One of Ballarat's best known companies has calculated that it lost more than half a million dollars due to the 'snap' lockdown that ended last Wednesday.
Haymes Paint has estimated its lost or delayed income at a total of around $620,000 across the five days, a figure calculated by comparing forecast revenue around its retail stores and warehouses with what eventuated.
The figure arrived at a time when the state government was finalising a "Circuit Breaker" relief package. The grants will total $143 million and will mostly target the hard-hit tourism sector, it was announced on Sunday.
However, the recent lockdown has created a knock-on impact on sectors spread much more widely than education, tourism and hospitality workers - arguably for the first time in the region.
From all the evidence we have seen, the construction industry has worked to incredibly robust standards. There hasn't been any real explanation why it needed to be shut down in the regionMatt Haymes, Haymes Paint
Matt Haymes, a director at the company, said the sharp dip in sales was largely due to the shutdown of construction work. The pause in building site activity, brought in as part of the Stage 4 restrictions was an unprecedented measure for regional Victoria since the pandemic began. "Most of [the loss in revenue] is from the trade market because of the shutdown of the building industry," Mr Haymes told The Courier.
He said he would like greater clarity from the government in any future approach towards restriction.
"We know there are plenty of worse off industries," he said. "I want to be very clear: we are not sitting here having potshots at government, we're not sitting here playing politics, they have a truly unenviable job."
"We just want to know why [the construction industry was shut down]. That hasn't happened before.
"From all the evidence we have seen, the construction industry has worked to incredibly robust standards.
"There hasn't been any real explanation why it needed to be shut down in the regions."
Mr Haymes said employees still worked as contactless payments and pick-ups were possible from stores even though the doors were closed - but trading was significantly impacted.
"We just want to be working constructively with the government on what happens going forward," he said.
Smaller companies including plumbers other tradespeople are likely to have felt the effect of the shutdown even more sharply - without the financial cushion of some of the larger companies.
The impact of the lockdown was raised in Victorian Parliament on Friday, when the Liberal MP for Western Victoria Bev McArthur asked the Minister for Small Business and Ballarat local Jaala Pulford whether she was aware of the financial damage suffered by Haymes Paint.
Meanwhile Tim Porter, the Australian director of construction group Madica, whose workers were unable to pick up their tools in a professional capacity during the shutdown, echoed Mr Haymes' calls for greater clarity.
Also acknowledging that the construction sector had not previously been badly affected by the pandemic, he said there were no clear guidelines on how employers needed to approach the lockdown, and whether they needed to take annual leave or be paid as if they were working.
"Not only are you behind on your workload, you are also affected financially," he said, adding that he would be "100 per cent" behind any push to introduce a more nuanced approach to any further lockdowns.
"We need to sectionalise our approach so the state can keep going," he said.
As in previous shutdowns, the hospitality and tourism sector faced major losses as a result of the restrictions, which were put in place across .
On Sunday, the Victorian minister for jobs Martin Pakula introduced the "Circuit Breaker" relief measures.
They will include payments of $2000 to 50,000 businesses to compensate for their inability to trade over the five-days, which included Valentine's Day and the Lunar New Year.
Mr Pakula said the payments would target businesses with an annual payroll of up to $3 million directly affected by the closures, including restaurants, florists, live entertainers and accommodation providers.
"They are the ones most profoundly affected by the lockdown and they are the ones we are targeting with this support," Mr Pakula said.
Companies in Ballarat within the tourism and hospitality sector recorded losses of up to $100,000 according to a survey carried out by Ballarat Regional Tourism (BRT).
This week, the CEO of the Committee for Ballarat Michael Poulton together with Commerce Ballarat chief executive Jodie Gillett and BRT chair Iain Gunn are expected to send a joint letter to Premier Daniel Andrews.
They will urge for a change in tack away from a "one size fits all" approach for any future lockdowns, as well as greater clarity in the measures introduced.
- With AAP
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