When Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced the ACT's path out of lockdown on Monday, it set off a chain reaction for people trying to book hair and other appointments.
In the case of Kundalini Hair in Barton, this meant a flood of emails and phone calls from people eager to get an overdue haircut.
"We got over 200 emails last night alone, on top of the hundreds of emails we've been getting throughout the week," Kundalini Hair director Susie Dimov said.
But while the Chief Minister's announcement provided some clarity for Canberra's small businesses, there are still concerns surrounding the lockdown's overall impact. Mr Barr on Tuesday outlined business support extending beyond the end of the ACT's lockdown.
The lifting of restrictions means that hairdressers, beauty and personal services will be allowed to recommence from October 15 with five customers.
However, Ms Dimov said for large salons such as Kundalini Hair, which has room for the business' 20 employees as well as clients, the announcement is disappointing.
"It means that staff are going to be quite short of hours and we're going to have to completely change the way that we work," she said.
"We'll have to work six days a week and it still doesn't mean that they'll get paid what they usually get paid, because we can't physically do 80 hours in a week and split up the team.
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Ms Dimov said she feels fortunate to have a large team to help as people try to rebook appointments, as well as throughout the lockdown. This has included creating at-home colour kits for those who wanted them during the lockdown.
"I do feel for businesses that perhaps don't have that support and new businesses that are already finding their feet without having to navigate through what's going on at the moment," Ms Dimoc said.
'Some will be treading water'
He also said no politician could guarantee that businesses would survive "for the rest of time" even in non-crisis situations.
Canberra Business Chamber chief executive Graham Catt said there was a strong case for more support for businesses affected by restrictions, but he expected it would be targeted at particular sectors.
"The reality is, although we welcomed the roadmap yesterday and the detail in there, there are sectors and there are businesses that are still going to be trading at potentially at 95 per cent or more of their takings reduced, or some cases just not able to open doors because it doesn't make financial sense," Mr Catt said.
Mr Catt said there was also a strong argument for a wage subsidy style program, similar to the federal government's JobKeeper or the NSW government's JobSaver program, which connected employees and employers while supporting businesses' bottom lines.
The territory government will offer support through COVID-19 small business hardship, commercial tenancy support, and accommodation and tourism venue operator support schemes, and the small tourism operator COVID recovery payment.
Mr Barr also said hospitality businesses would receive relief through licence and fee waivers.
These included waivers for the food business registration fee, which will be extended until March 31, 2022, and outdoor dining permit fees, which have been waived for another 12 months until June 30, 2022.
The annual licence fee waiver for some liquor licences has been tapered to provide another 50 per cent reduction for 12 months from April 2021 for eligible licensees.
Mr Barr said payroll tax waivers and deferrals were also available for businesses not already exempt from payroll tax.
"We recognise there will be a need for ongoing support for a good part of the hospitality sector," he said.
The ACT government is still negotiating other financial support for businesses - particularly in hospitality, tourism, arts, events and personal services sectors - with the Commonwealth. Mr Barr again expressed frustration at the absence of JobKeeper payments from the federal government during the ACT lockdown.
The ACT government gave Canberrans a pandemic roadmap on Monday, with some restrictions to change at the end of this week and more to follow later in October. Businesses have been given a plan to restart, but the hospitality industry is frustrated at the reintroduction of the one person per four square metres rule.
The Australian Hotels Association on Monday blasted the government's reopening plan, saying it would stop businesses from opening up viably until late November or early December.
Mr Barr on Tuesday said the government understood that a rule requiring one person per four square metres was unviable for some parts of the hospitality sector.
"That's why economic support will continue in that industry sector, but the hospitality industry doesn't set the public health directions, nor does it set what the virus will do, and the Delta strain is obviously much more contagious," he said.
"These are high risk settings."
The social distancing rules would be viable for some hospitality businesses, and the government decided to reopen "the safer end of the industry" rather than keep the whole sector shut until December.
Mr Barr said the government had to balance the decision against the need to reopen other parts of the economy, while considering public health.
"We don't just view this through the lens of hospitality," he said.
Asked whether some hospitality businesses would have to close before the end of 2021, Mr Barr said that wasn't "necessarily the conclusion".
"Certainly we'd hope that's not the case. I know some will just be treading water, and will be breaking even, and some might need some additional financial support.
"No politician can guarantee, even in normal circumstances, that every single business will survive for the rest of time. You just can't do that."
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