Business should have had a seat at the table when the ACT government made decisions on its pathway out of lockdown, a committee hearing has heard.
The ACT's Legislative Assembly select committee inquiring into the government's pandemic response heard from members of the business community on Thursday, with one warning iconic Canberra businesses could possibly shut.
"Some iconic Canberra hospitality businesses, and I'm not going to say who they are out of respect to them, [they] don't intend under the current roadmap to be doing business by December, they will close in the next six weeks," Australian Hotels Association ACT general manager Anthony Brierley said.
Mr Brierley claimed about 10 to 20 per cent of the association's membership in the ACT was at risk of shutting.
Canberra Region Tourism Leaders Forum chair David Marshall said business input into the easing of restrictions could have cleared up elements of the pathway that were confusing.
"The imposition of restrictions, they are confusing, they have been, they still are and I believe the decisions surrounding some of these would have been enhanced if business had actually had direct input into how these restrictions had been rolled out," Dr Marshall said.
"I think that is one of the biggest dilemmas we face and we can see it highlighted with the cross border issues that we're now confronting."
Applications for the jointly-funded ACT and federal government business support grants have come to a finish.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr revealed on Thursday that 11,691 businesses had applied for the grants and $220 million in payments had been approved.
So far, 8300 applicants had received payments and of those businesses, more than 5000 had received a top-up payments.
Mr Barr said 1125 businesses had passed through the first stage of applications, with 709 needing further information and 158 had been outright declined.
He said the remainder had been received in the last few days of the scheme and were going through the assessment process.
MORE COVID-19 NEWS:
The scheme has been criticised for its sluggish rollout and burdensome application process. Mr Barr defended the scheme on Thursday.
"That's the single largest grants program in the history of the Australian Capital Territory," he said.
But Phillip Business Community president Tom Adam said the grants team had little engagement with businesses and requests for follow-up information were unclear.
"In fact, [on Thursday], I spoke to another business who applied on the 15th of September, and late [Wednesday] received an email asking for further information for their application," Mr Adam said.
"But it was not detailed what that information was. When they followed the steps of how to do it, there was no information requiring them to do it, a phone call was received by a blocked number and a message left with no way for them to contact them and call back."
Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this outbreak of COVID-19 in the ACT and the lockdown is free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. You can also sign up for our newsletters for regular updates.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: