“I’ve got to keep breathing. It will be my worst business mistake if I don’t.”  Steve Martin, Actor

When we met with Minister McGurk in the Boardroom last month with the leaders of our hospitality and attraction venues things looked pretty grim. Low patronage, aggression to staff arising from those anti vaccine mandates and tough eligibility criteria to access support grants made for challenging conversation. You could tangibly feel the pain in the room. This week for the first time since then it feels like there is breath and light at the end of the long long COVID tunnel.

The eligibility criteria for venues to access support has been adjusted – the 30% downturn rather than 50% will make a significant difference for those now eligible for the support. At 50% downturn a business would have had to be trading insolvent or not paying staff or suppliers to even qualify. More details on this below.

The end of mask wearing for those who chose will also hopefully mean a sign of confidence that people will feel more comfortable getting out and about. Our businesses, particular those on our high streets rely so much on traffic and people being out of their homes and exploring. Fremantle is traditionally a great Winter destination and hopefully this Winter will signal a complete change of season in more ways than one.

Supply chain hold ups and labour shortages remain a challenge for our region. We will be discussing supply chain logistics, costs and systems at our next Set the Month in Motion learning forum, sponsored by the City of Fremantle’s Building Business Capacity Program, on Wednesday 4 May. We have an exceptional panel lined up and encourage your attendance in person to put your questions to the panel.

We also announce our collaborated event with the University of Notre Dame, The Fremantle Network, Oxfam and Shipping News to bring you The Federal Election Candidates debate on Tuesday 10 May. We have some big asks coming up in the region around the Southern Transport corridor to connect our residential heartland, and the harbours down to the Coast to the Australian Marine Complex which are economic imperatives that will require Federal Government support, along with support for our innovation, marine and creative emerging industries. We hope to see you there to hear first hand the candidates thoughts on these issues are more.

We look forward to hearing from Fremantle Ports this week on the results on their recent planning work to activate and connect Victoria Quay and more generally getting slowly back to life as we used to know it.

Read more on the Chamber Weekly here.