SMBI chamber of commerce president Jasmine Person rolls out plan to support small businesses on Bay Islands

BAY island businesses will close, many will not be in a financial position to re-open their doors in the coming months if residents do not take COVID-19 restrictions seriously.

SOCIAL DISTANCING: Bay islands residents may not be taking separation restrictions seriously at the water taxi terminals, on the water taxis and in the local grocery shops.

SOCIAL DISTANCING: Bay islands residents may not be taking separation restrictions seriously at the water taxi terminals, on the water taxis and in the local grocery shops.

She said it was unfortunate that many residents on the islands had not been taking the isolation and separation restrictions seriously.

"It has been apparent at the water taxi terminals, on the water taxis and in the local grocery shops. BITS have now implemented measures which will force people to separate on the water taxis which is great," she said.

She said the business community was slowly adhering to directions from the state and federal government and the SMBICC hoped that this would continue.

"The slower the reaction to isolation measures, the increased risk of COVID-19 spreading. It is arguable that our local economy will suffer significantly more than the mainland because of our unique demographics," Ms Person said.

SMBI have an aged population, a high level of unemployment, low household income and an economy that is reliant on community spend.

The effects to the economy will be devastating if residents do not adhere to the latest rules to prevent the spread of the virus.

"Businesses will close, many of which will not be in a financial position to re-open their doors in the coming months.

Our recovery process will also be slower because many residents live week to week on a shoestring budget. They have no monetary buffer," she said.

Ms Person feared if bay islands businesses were forced into bankruptcy or insolvency, in the short to medium term, their community would need to utilise goods and services from the mainland, which would be significantly more expensive, unaffordable to most and logistically unfeasible.

SMBICC was assisting small businesses during this tough time and information was available on the chamber website.

"We are currently working with an accountant to create a video to explain some of the immediately available assistant packages for business and how businesses can apply, she said.

"We will also be working with the business to establish exactly what assistance they need, given our unique constraints, rather than being given assistant that is not helpful," Ms Person said.