Almost 1400 Canberra businesses affected by the Covid lockdown applied for support payments in the first day of a government-funded scheme, and a further 1000 have started their applications.
A range of businesses across the territory are hoping for a lifeline today, as ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr may announce minor changes to restrictions.
The ACT's cabinet was briefed by chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman on Thursday afternoon about possible changes to public health settings.
Businesses were finally able to apply for support grants of up to $10,000 from jointly-funded $75 million ACT and federal government scheme.
More than 8700 businesses are expected to apply, after they expressed interest in the scheme prior to its opening.
Mr Barr again defended the decision by his government to impose tough restrictions, which has banned construction and prevented a wide range of retail businesses from operating.
"These are incredibly difficult times. No one wants to be in this position. We are not the only people in Australia or around the world in this position," he said.
"There are a range of alternate scenarios that could have played out had we taken a different path in our response."
Opposition leader Elizabeth Lee has also called on the Chief Minister to provide certainty for businesses.
"Small business plays a vital role in the Canberra community and we need to ensure these businesses are still there when we come out of lockdown," Ms Lee said.
"We support and respect the health advice from the chief health officer and her team, but we are asking the Chief Minister to provide certainty and have a plan on how some businesses can safely recommence operations within the health advice."
Canberra's construction industry has been among the most vocal to call on the government to ease restrictions on its industry. Construction has been banned under the territory's public health directions since lockdown started on August 12.
The ACT has construction industry has had the longest shutdown of any state or territory since the pandemic started.
Canberra's largest construction union CFMEU ACT officially called on the territory government to end the shutdown on Thursday.
ACT assistant branch secretary Zachary Smith said the industry needed a clear plan from the government and argued construction had proved it could manage Covid risks effectively.
"It is time for the ACT government to give the green light so we can start getting everyone in the Canberra construction industry back to work," he said.
"The ACT has adopted some of the hardest economic lockdown measures of any state of territory, but now is the time to reopen construction, get people back to work and enable the industry to take up its role as a strong driver of the ACT economy once again.
"Construction can open safely and should do so within the next week. It is our members that are bearing the economic pain of the strictest lockdown laws in the country.
"This pain on working people is only compounded by any further detail from the ACT government."
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Mr Barr again acknowledged the impacts on construction but stressed a number of industries were also doing it tough.
"We are very conscious of the issues that have been raised with us by the construction sector, by many other industry associations," he said.
"It's not just about construction, as important as construction is there is a much bigger economy than just the construction sector.
"This has impacts on retail and hospitality, on professional services, you name the area of the economy, there's likely to be an impact."
The Canberra Times also understands some large chain retailers have been investigated by Access Canberra in the past days for possible breaches to public health directions.
Staff have expressed concerns that some businesses have found a way around essential retail provisions.
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