More Support For Much-Loved Pubs, Clubs, Restaurants

The Victorian Government has announced further support to help much loved pubs, clubs and restaurants survive the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and rebound strongly on the other side of the crisis.

Like many businesses, restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus have hit pubs, clubs and restaurants hard, with many struggling to pay the rent.

But unlike many other commercial tenants, these venues are often in prime development locations, and many operators invest significant capital upfront on the assumption they will hold a lease for a long period of time.

In addition, these venues also hold valuable liquor licences that revert to the landlord in the event of default on a lease – creating a perverse incentive for the landlord to avoid striking a deal that helps their tenant’s business survive.

This isn’t fair. That’s why the Victorian Government has today announced that $40 million from the Business Support Fund will be available to licenced venues with an individual annual turnover of up to $50 million, but who are not covered by the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme, for rent relief.

Free mediation services through the Victorian Small Business Commission available under the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme will be extended to all tenants who hold a liquor licence, regardless of their size – helping tenants reach agreement with their landlord regarding rent relief during the pandemic.

The Victorian Small Business Commission will monitor the operation of these arrangements and provide advice to the Government. If required, the Government may seek further legislative changes, enforced retrospectively to 29 March 2020, to ensure these tenants are protected.

The Government will form a steering committee drawing membership from bodies including the Australian Hotels Association, Community Clubs Victoria, Music Victoria, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Restaurant and Catering Association Victoria to advise on the operation of the fund.

Former Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Mark Stone will chair the taskforce.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Coordination of Jobs, Precincts and Regions – COVID-19 Martin Pakula

“Pubs and clubs are a vital part of Victorian life and it’s important that size does not mean that operators are locked out of support and protections in lease negotiations.”

“We are supporting Victorian businesses so they can emerge from this crisis in the best shape possible and quickly rebuild their workforce.”