COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Business Support


For information on Council managed facilities and services, please visit our COVID-19 (Coronavirus) page.

Expand the drop-down lists below to view current business support options available.

Outdoor dining facilitation and support

Wellington Shire Council is on hand to assist local businesses re-activate as the region begins to open up again following the state government's further lifting of its COVID-19 restrictions.

Victoria has moved to the Last Step of the government's roadmap to recovery, which means businesses serving food can provide a dine-in option to up to 300 people outside and 150 inside, with caps determined by COVID-Safe regulations. There is no limit on the size of the group you can dine with. Nightclubs may open for seated service.

For hospitality venues with an indoor space of less than 200sqm, a two square metre rule must be applied, which allows for a maximum of 50 patrons. To be able to use the two square metre rule businesses must use QR codes for contact-tracing record keeping.

Venues with an indoor space of more than 200sqm must apply a four square metre rule to their indoor space and the two square metre rule to their outdoor space.

An eight square metre rule applies to all indoor food courts.

Staff are not included in the tally of people in a venue for the purposes of the square metre rules.

Venues must keep a log including first name and phone number of each person who attends the premise for more than 15 minutes. Records must be kept for 28 days.

Patrons may, of course, take their face mask off once seated for eating or drinking.

Part of Council's reactivation plan is a commitment to the hospitality industry, to assist wherever possible to facilitate outdoor dining for businesses who may never have offered this service before and assist other businesses to expand their outdoor dining options.

Council is working with Wellington's cafes and restaurants to identify outdoor dining options and help them facilitate their activation.

Consideration has been given to expanding dining areas along footpaths and outside-the-box thinking to utilise other outdoor spaces, including planter boxes and furniture that can be used to expand al fresco zones. Council is willing to look at creative solutions including the temporary use of car parking areas and even partial road closures.

Support won't be limited to facilitation and smoothing red tape but also financial support. The state government has announced both Council and business funding specifically to help with outdoor dining.

Government grants of up to $5,000 to help businesses pay for practical things to assist in setting up for outdoor dining such as umbrellas, outdoor furniture, screens and other equipment are available via application until funds are exhausted or until 11.59pm on 11 December 2020, whichever is earlier.  

Council has waived all outdoor dining fees. We also have staff available to discuss your needs and how Council can help make this Last Step easier.

While Council will continue to waiver any permit costs associated with outdoor dining, business looking to serve alcohol may need extend their red line to accommodate additional outdoor dining.

Council has received information from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) that they are on board and will process any application as quickly as possible.

Wellington has a reputation for exceptional food and wine. The hospitality industry is a major part of our local economy.

Let's get Wellington re-opened for business by re-activating our local eateries and providing that great hospitality to our locals and visitors once again.

For further information about the state government grants, visit

Council enquiries via Geoff Hay, Senior Business Development Officer, phone 5142 3043

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Frequently Asked Questions - Cafes, Restaurants and Hotels

How many patrons can I have at my restaurant/cafe/hotel at any one time?

Indoor dining: Limit of 150 patrons, but with density caps determined by COVID-Safe regulations. Numbers are subject to density requirements of one person per four square metres at indoor venues of more than 200 sq m, one person per two square metres at indoor venues of less than 200 sqm that use QR codes for contact tracing.

If QR Codes are not being used, then a maximum of 50 patrons applies, subject to a density quotient of one patron per four square metres.

Venues with an indoor space of more than 200 sqm must apply a four square metre rule to their indoor space and the two square metre rule to their outdoor space.

An eight square metre rule applies to all indoor food courts. Outdoor food courts can operate at a number permitted by the density quotient of one person per two square metres, limited to 50 patrons per area.

Outdoor dining: Capacity of 300 patrons per venue subject to density requirements of one person per two square metres. This number can be spread over several outdoor spaces. Staff are not included.

Staff are not included in the patron count.

Who needs to wear face coverings?

All staff must wear face coverings while on shift. Customers must wear a face covering at all times other than when seated. Diners sitting outdoors who are unable to maintain a 1.5m gap to those who are not part of their dining group must wear a mask.

What defines an indoor eating space?

Each area must be separated by permanent structures or be a discrete area of the premises that is sufficiently separated from any other area of the premises. Walls separating areas should either reach from floor to ceiling, or be at least 2.1 metres high for the space to be considered sufficiently separate.

What defines an outdoor eating space?

An area with no roof, or an open-air space designed for the consumption of food and/or beverage including a balcony or verandah, courtyard, rooftop, marquee, street or footpath or any similar outdoor area.

An open-air space may have a temporary or fixed cover, as long as the cover has at least two open sides to the outdoors for airflow.

What is seated service?

Ordering from a table should be encouraged, to limit counter or kiosk ordering. Encourage use of contactless payment methods. Consider using physical barriers such as screens.

Can I provide buffet service?

No. You also cannot provide communal cutlery, glass drink or condiment stations. Free drinking water should be provided to seated patrons.

Are there any limits on group bookings?

There are no limits on the size of group you can dine with and sit in.

How far apart must tables be from each other?

Each table must be spaced so that any diners on a neighbouring table remain 1.5 metres apart.

Are walk-in diners permitted?

Yes, but encourage bookings.

Can patrons order only a drink?

Yes, however, they must remain seated.

Can bar or lounge areas be converted to dining areas?

Yes, as long as each table is spaced appropriately and is subject to the relevant patron per square metre rule.

Are shared plates allowed?

Yes, as long as they are shared with patrons on the one table.

What about trading hours?

Trading hours can remain normal. Those with liquor licences will be subject to the conditions of their licencing.

Can children's playgrounds operate?

If they are outdoor play areas, yes, they can operate. Indoor play facilities must remain closed. Keep in mind that children in the playground areas count towards the number of patrons in the venue.

What about entry and exit points?

Wherever possible, use separate entry and exit points. Where there is no separate door, use bollards and direction arrows to guide guests in and out. Also use floor markings or directional signage to assist with physical distancing.

Do temperatures need to be checked?

There is currently no requirement for temperature checks for hospitality businesses.

What patron details need to be collected?

Any person who attends a hospitality business, whether they be patrons, staff, contractors or delivery people and they are on site for longer than 15 minutes must provide:

  • Their first name
  • Date and check-in time
  • Contact phone number
  • Spaces they have visited at the venue
  • Their relationship with the business (eg customer, staff)

Business owners must protect the personal information and also destroy the information 28 days after the visit. They must also explain the reason why the information is being requested, which is for contact tracing.

What if someone refuses to provide their information?

They cannot be compelled to.

Will I need to extend my liquor licence if I start/extend outdoor dining?

If you already have a liquor licence for your outdoor area and you are not proposing an extension, then you won't need to amend your liquor licence and can operate as normal. If you extend your outdoor dining area and would like to serve alcohol in this area, you will need to amend your Planning Permit and liquor licence.

We can assist to make this process as simple as possible. You will also need to refer to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR). We are working closely with the Victorian Government to advocate for liquor licences to be amended as quickly as possible.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) website has implemented a streamlined process to ensure licensed venues can be swiftly provided with a Temporary Limited Licence. The VCGLR will endeavour to process applications within three days. This will help to fast-track businesses ability to offer predominantly outdoor dining in the Last Step of Victoria's roadmap for reopening.

In the first instance, contact Council and we will provide any necessary documentation required by the VCGLR.

Businesses that don't have a liquor licence can still operate outdoor dining if they have local council approval to operate an outdoor dining area.

Where can businesses find advice about protecting customer privacy?

Please visit The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Wellington Shire Council COVID-19 Support Package

Wellington Shire Council resolved to allocate $470,000 towards initiatives to support local small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The package includes waiving of business fees including:

  • Portable Advertising Permit fee (12 months)
  • Alfresco Dining Permit fee  (12 months)
  • Roadside Trading Permit fees (8 months)
  • Tenancy costs for Council managed commercial properties and four caravan parks (5 months)
  • 2021 annual Food and Health Registration fee
  • Planning permit application fees for business and/or commercial developments (April-December)

In addition, Council will cover the cost of annual membership for businesses to join their local Business and Tourism Association, including:

  • Dargo Business and Tourism Association
  • Heyfield Traders and Tourism Inc.
  • Loch Sport Business and Tourism Association
  • Maffra Business and Tourism Association
  • Port Albert Progress Association
  • Rosedale Chamber of Commerce
  • Sale Business and Tourism Association
  • Stratforward (Stratford BTA)
  • Yarram Traders and Tourism Inc.

The package also includes a plan for practical support including meeting with businesses directly to assess their needs and provide connections with relevant Government support; the establishment of a social media platform to encourage people to shop locally and a Wellington-based advertising campaign once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Federal Government Support

Job Keeper Initiative

The JobKeeper Payment is a scheme to support businesses and not-for-profit organisations significantly affected by COVID-19, to help keep more Australians in jobs. The JobKeeper Payment is administered by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

The JobKeeper Payment will be available to eligible businesses (including the self-employed) and not-for-profits until 28 March 2021. More>

Job Keeper Payment for sole traders

Sole traders may be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment if their turnover has reduced. Following registration by the eligible business, the Government will provide  $1,200 per fortnight (for Tier 1 businesses) or $750 per fortnight (Tier 2). From 4 January, the rate will fall to $1,000 per fortnight (Tier 1) and $650 per fortnight (Tier 2). More>

Restrictions on non-essential services

The Australian Government has announced social-distancing measures to protect the Australian community from the spread of the coronavirus. Restrictions have been placed on a number of non-essential services. More>

A hold on evictions for renters

The Prime Minister has announced new measures to help renters. Evictions will be put on hold for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress, who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of the coronavirus. More>

Boosting cash flow for employers

Provides up to $100,000 back to small and medium-sized businesses, with a minimum payment of $20,000 for eligible businesses. The payments will provide cash flow support to businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million and not-for-profit entities that employ staff. The payment will be tax free. More>

Supporting apprentices and trainees

If you employ an apprentice or trainee you may be eligible for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of their wage paid from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. You can register for the subsidy from early April 2020. More>

Increased and accelerated income support

Expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time limited coronavirus supplement. Payments commenced 27 April 2020. More>

Early access to superannuation

Individuals affected by the coronavirus can access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. You will be able to apply for early release of your superannuation from 20 April 2020. More>

Supporting the flow of credit

The Government, Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority have taken coordinated action to support the flow of credit in the Australian economy, in particular for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). More>

Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

There is a temporary increase to the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive. This includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent, and providing temporary flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001 to provide temporary and targeted relief from provisions of the Act. More>

Increasing the Instant Asset Write-Off

The instant asset write-off threshold has been increased from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanded access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million). This applies from 12 March 2020 until 30 June 2020, for new or second-hand assets first used or installed ready for use in this timeframe. More>

Backing Business Investment (BBI)

A time limited 15 month investment incentive to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. This applies to eligible assets acquired from 12 March 2020 and first used or installed by 30 June 2021. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50 per cent of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset cost.

Tax Support (ATO)

Find out what tax support is available if you or your employees are affected by the coronavirus. More>

State Government Support

State Government Business Support Fund (Round 3)

The Victorian Government recently announced a third round of the Business Support Fund – ensuring businesses impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19)restrictions continue to receive the support they need to make it through restricted trading. The How we work roadmaps outline steady, safe and sustainable steps towards a COVID Normal. Grants from this program will help businesses in these sectors make it through extended restrictions.

Through this third round of the Business Support Fund, eligible businesses will receive grants of $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000, depending on the business’ annual payroll.  More>

State Government Economic Survival Package

The Victorian Government has established an economic survival package to support Victorian businesses and workers through the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A summary of initiatives available under this package is summarised below however for more detailed information view the State Government's Economic Survival Package.

Payroll Tax Refunds

Businesses with annual taxable wages up to $3 million will have their payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year waived. This will support 24,000 businesses and up to 400,000 workers.

Liquor Licence Fees Waived

Renewable liquor licence fees for 2020 will be waived. Businesses that have already paid will be reimbursed.

Business Support Fund

The $500 million Business Support Fund will support the hardest hit sectors, including hospitality, tourism, accommodation, arts and entertainment, and retail.

Working for Victoria Fund

Under the $500 million Working for Victoria Fund, displaced workers will be eligible to apply for different types of work. This presents opportunities for paid work and an opportunity to contribute to Victoria's ability to manage this event and support the community.

Land Tax Deferral

Landowners that have at least one non-residential property and total taxable landholdings below $1 million have the option of deferring their 2020 land tax payment until after 31 December 2020.

Rent Relief for Commercial Tenants in Government Buildings

The Government will work directly with commercial tenants in government buildings who can apply for rent relief. Private landlords are also being encouraged to provide rent relief or holidays to help businesses.

Business Specific Support

Premises that sell/provide food to the public

The Victorian Government has released the Business Victoria Industry Restart Guidelines - Hospitality. Visit the Business Victoria Accommodation and Food Services sector guidance page to view a copy of the guidelines along with frequently asked questions. Free Online Training is also available.

Advice for food businesses is available on the Advice for food businesses on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) page of the Health Victoria website and also the Novel Coronavirus and Food Safety page of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website.‍

Accommodation providers

The Victorian Government has released the Business Victoria Industry Restart Guidelines - Accommodation.

Advice for hotels and hotel staff is available on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for hotels and hotel staff page of the Australian Government Department of Health website.‍

Environmental Cleaning

Advice on cleaning protocols is available from the Australian Government Department of Health Environmental Cleaning and disinfection principles for COVID-19 fact sheet.‍

Promotional materials for public display

A range of promotional material for businesses is available on the Promotional material - coronavirus disease (COVID-19) page of the Victorian Government Health and Human Services website.

Food Business Home Delivery Guide

The Food Business Home Delivery Guide is for food businesses that offer home delivery of perishable food items in unrefrigerated vehicles.

Contactless thermometers for local businesses

In light of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) environment, Wellington Shire Council is distributing a limited supply of infrared thermometers to eligible local businesses. These thermometers are a further preventative measure businesses can take to make them COVIDSafe.

Eligible businesses are:

  • Businesses that have a registered Victorian premises (ABN number)
  • Businesses that are still operating with staff physically on site
  • Businesses that employ at least 5 staff members who work concurrently at the same premises
  • Businesses that have not been able to procure a contactless thermometer from a supplier

There is a strict limit of one thermometer per business site, per 20 employees. If your business is eligible and you have more than one premises, you may request multiple thermometers.

If your business meets the above requirements, you can request a free infrared thermometer is sent to you by calling the Wellington COVID-19 Relief Information Line on 1300 137 218.

Gippsland Business Connect

Gippsland Business Connect is a B2B platform sponsored by the Wellington Shire Council.

It is free for local businesses, and will help you:

  • Build your brand and promote your expertise, goods and services
  • Find local business events and training relevant to you
  • Share your business’ good news
  • Access local business leads and hear about big projects and procurements
  • Find local suppliers
  • Discover other local businesses you did not know existed.

It is completely free and is a great way to connect your business with other businesses and new customers.  

Find out more, or sign up at

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This page was last published on: 
Tuesday, March 16, 2021

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