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Business Q&A - Ask us a question

Have your business questions answered about the impact of COVID-19 on your business.

We have been receiving many enquiries from business owners who are understandably concerned about COVID-19 and its potential effect on their business.

Both the Commonwealth Government and SA Government have announced COVID-19 stimulus packages for business, including tax rebates, wage subsidies and grants.
 
If you would like to discuss your business situation, contact us.
 

Explore the following categories for FAQs

  • Business support and financial assistance

    There is so much information out there, how can I work out what I am eligible for?
    Join our mailing list to stay informed through a dedicated COVID-19 email newsletter about what it means for your business. To join, see Subscribe.
     
    How can I keep paying my rent?
    Rent relief is now available for business tenants of government buildings who have been forced to close, or have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. The State Government will provide full rent relief to impacted tenants of commercial, retail, industrial and other non-residential site from the date the business was closed or impacted, up until 30 June 2020.

    For others, the Commonwealth Government has established a mandatory code to help private commercial landlords and tenants through the COVID-19 business downturn. Once legislated, it will apply to tenancies where either the landlord, or the tenant, is eligible for the JobKeeper program and where they have a turnover of $50 million or less.

    Under the code, landlords will be required to reduce rent proportionate to the trading reduction in the tenant’s business - through a combination of waivers and deferrals of rent - over the course of the pandemic period.

    These landlords must not terminate the lease, and tenants must also honour lease agreements.

    If you feel you are not being treated fairly by your landlord in an existing commercial lease agreement you can lodge a dispute with the Small Business Commissioner of South Australia for an independent investigation.

    Can I access my superannuation?
    Superannuation can be drawn down by affected people, by up to $10,000 in 2019-20, and a further $10,000 in 2020-21, without impacting social security payments. This can be accessed through the MyGov web portal.

    Is there any assistance available for exporters?
    The South Australian Government has established an expert industry taskforce to identify impacts across export sectors and to coordinate support for affected businesses.
     
    The Commonwealth Government is establishing an International Freight Assistance Mechanism to help exporters get their high-quality produce into key overseas markets. Return flights will bring back items critical to the ongoing health response, including vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment.
     
    For more information, visit the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

    As a new business or startup, am I eligible for financial support?
    The Treasurer has confirmed that, providing you meet other eligibility requirements, businesses who have launched or significantly grown over the last 12 months are not exempt from the Commonwealth’s JobKeeper Payment to help retain employees throughout the pandemic period.  
     
    While the payment criteria requires 'a business to prove a reduction in turnover compared to a year earlier', the Tax Commissioner will use discretion to consider other means of proof regarding the financial impact of coronavirus. View the Treasurer's JobKeeper factsheet or read Smart Company's analysis of the issue.
     
    Budding South Australian entrepreneurs are also encouraged to register for informal mentoring and support through the FIXE Mentor Program.
  • Medical and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

    What TGA requirements need to be met to produce sanitiser for hospitals?
    The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has made a new legislative instrument that allows local production of hand sanitiser to be carried out more readily.

    This includes sanitisers for healthcare facility use – including hospitals and aged care and other residential facilities - as well as for general consumer use.

    Small- and large-scale production of hand sanitiser can now proceed without requirement for TGA approval or notification provided that only one of two recipes developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and endorsed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are used.

    If these recipes are used, food grade alcohol, which is cheaper and available in larger qualities than medical grade alcohol can be used in the manufacture of the hand sanitisers.

    I would like to supply medical equipment to the Government
    SA Health has existing contractual arrangements in place that will meet increased demand for PPE items.
    However, you can register your capabilities on the national Industry Capability Network (ICN) portal which is being used to connect those organisations experiencing PPE shortages with suppliers.

    All South Australian companies with an interest in importing PPE items from overseas for potential on-selling to SA Health or other health authorities must be able to provide the following first stage information: product specifications, volume, price, timeline for delivery, country of origin, proof of certification with traceability to the certifier.

    How can my business manufacture PPE?
    All South Australian companies with an interest in manufacturing PPE items should register their details via this Austender RFI portal.

    The Commonwealth Government is currently mapping domestic production capability of medical personal protective equipment (PPE), including: surgical gowns, gloves, goggles, hand sanitisers, clinical waste bags, waste bag closure devices (ties), blood and fluid spill kits, mask fit test kits, and thermometers.

    Responses will be used to inform national activities and be shared with state authorities.

    How do I get PPE for my business?
    You can register your shortage on the national Industry Capability Network (ICN) portal that is being used to connect organisations experiencing PPE shortages with suppliers.

    Once registered, an ICN consultant will be in touch to discuss your needs in more detail and can conduct investigations across the national network.

    My company can provide technical and clinical solutions to COVID-19, who should I contact?
    If your company can provide technical or clinical solutions, such as test kits and medical equipment. Please contact the Department for Trade and Investment: DTI.Reception@sa.gov.au.
  • Essential business services

    How do I determine if my business is essential?
    Providing a simple definition of an essential service during COVID-19 is not straightforward – there are inconsistencies across different jurisdictions and countries depending on the stage of lockdown.
     
    During our community response to COVID-19 essential services will continue.

    The SA Health website has the latest information and the list of businesses and activities that are required to remain closed to the public until further notice.

    Businesses will likely need to put in place alternative ways of working to keep employees safe, including shift-based working, staggered meal breaks, flexible leave arrangements and physical distancing.
     
    Are there penalties for continuing to operate a prohibited service?
    Yes, if a business is required to close, penalties apply for continuing to run that business.

    For businesses that have been directed to close, South Australia Police have undertaken a major education focus to assist businesses fully comprehend what the restrictions really mean for them and their staff.

    Find out about prohibited activities and venues that are impacted by closure restrictions.
     
    I am concerned that my business may be impacted by future lockdowns.
    Can my business be considered as an essential service?

    There isn’t an application process for your business to become an ‘essential service’.

    The National Cabinet which consists of all Commonwealth, State and Territory leaders has overarching responsibility for developing the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the implementation of restrictions designed to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.

    For information about current restrictions and directions to businesses in South Australia, visit www.sa.gov.au/covid-19.
  • Border restrictions

    I have freight coming from interstate, can it still enter South Australia?
    Transport and freight services are still operating into South Australia. Transport and freight is considered an ‘Essential traveller’ service
     
    How do I get an exception from border restrictions?
    There is no application process for exemptions and no permit system. A self-assessment process applies. Persons entering South Australia may be stopped by police at checkpoints and Essential Travellers will be required to provide evidence of their status. If they are unable to provide evidence, they will be directed to self-quarantine.
     
    I am a FIFO worker, can I move across the SA border without quarantine restrictions?
    South Australia Police have updated border restrictions to allow essential workers to cross the state border without usual quarantine requirements. This includes FIFO workers, provided their employer is applying risk mitigation strategies at work.

    Other essential workers are:  
    • Active military and Defence Department personnel (including civilian staff and private contractors) and personnel required to support time critical national security and defence activities.
    • Health care workers, specifically persons who are requested by the Chief Executive of the Department for Health and Wellbeing, or by the Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Health.

    To enable cross-border transit to work sites:
    • Workers will be assessed at border control points and should carry photo identification such as a drivers’ licence to show to border control staff.
    • Employers are encouraged to provide transiting employees an authorisation letter stating their name, working dates, transit path and work location to show to border control staff as required.
    • Workers who live in South Australia and work interstate must satisfy the requirements of their destination State or Territory.
    For more information, read the full SAPOL Direction.
  • Workforce and training

    How can I keep on my apprentice or trainee if my business is struggling?
    Registrations are now open for eligible employers to apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for nine months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.

    Your Apprenticeship Network Provider can help you access this subsidy. You can also talk to your apprenticeship network provider about the choices you have in terms of continuing or suspending the apprentice or trainee should your business no longer be operational.

    For more information, visit Supporting apprentices and trainees.

    I’m winding down my business or temporarily closing, what can I do for my apprentice?
    There are a number of options to consider to keep your apprentice or trainee engaged in their learning, including using online learning for their off-job training, flexible rostering, suspending their training contract, asking them to take leave, or guiding them to another business that is in a position to offer them on-job experience.
     
    For more information, see Supporting staff.