Western Australian small businesses are running out of time to safeguard their business continuity in the wake of rising Omicron cases in Western Australia.
While many WA businesses have lived with the threat and occasional restrictions of COVID-19 for two years, 2022 is a different environment.
At present, there is still some varying government support, but the big-ticket items such as JobKeeper are gone. Businesses in Western Australia, particularly smaller ones, need to be as ready as they can for a high case environment and have multiple contingencies in place to ensure their business survives.
All of us need to be asking: what can I do if I, a member of my family, one of my staff or customers test positive? It’s about being prepared and, as much as possible, avoid making decisions on the fly.
We have seen the impact of Omicron in the eastern States, and one of the biggest disruptions to small businesses was the lack of staff due to illness and them needing to self-isolate.
Businesses in WA that have been identified as potential exposure sites have experienced a reduction in trade and that is going to continue as the virus spreads within the community.
Below is a checklist to guide business owners and managers:
- If your business premises are declared an exposure site – know what the Dept of Health requirements are and have the details of a provider who can carry out a ‘deep clean’.
- Communicate – keep your customer base informed. Let them know when you will be re-opening.
- Think laterally – can I do things differently to continue to trade or provide a service?
- Staff continuity – having relief staff available to cover for employees that get COVID or need to isolate to care for a loved one who tests positive.
- Financial back-up – access to funds from your own reserves or ability to borrow if needed due to lockdown closure or other disruptions to trading.
- Government assistance – keep up to date on available support (which continues to change), including State and Federal payments such as small business assistance grants or payments to people who can’t work due to isolation requirements.
There’s no doubt it is a concerning time for businesses and the broader community with a big dose of the unknown thrown in, but we can still take steps to be as ready as we can when a positive COVID case directly impacts us.
West Australians have always banded together when needed, and we can all support WA businesses by buying locally and being patient if they are short staffed or cannot meet our immediate needs when things get rough.