“Our greatest fear is restrictions ease then we have another outbreak and we’re back to square one. That will be the final nail in the coffin for a lot of businesses,” Mr Parkin said.

“The announcement of different grants is obviously welcome for any business … Everything helps with cash flow and the ongoing assessment of the viability of the business.

“In future years as businesses get over this thing, there’s no doubt we pay it back anyway when we become profitable and pay tax.

“It just adds that little bit extra to get through this six to 12 months.”

Under the third round of state government business support grants, businesses with a payroll of less than $650,000 will be eligible for $10,000 grants, those with a payroll between $650,000 and $3 million can receive $15,000 and those with a payroll between $3 million and $10 million can receive $20,000.

Licensed hospitality businesses such as pubs and reception centres will be eligible for grants worth up to $30,000 based on their capacity and location.

About $1.7 billion in payroll tax deferrals will be granted and the government will waive $27 million in liquor licence fees for 2021. A detailed breakdown of the $3 billion package can be found here.

Chrissie Maus, who represents traders in the Chapel Street precinct, said she was “relieved to finally see the Andrews government announcing critical cash support to Victorian business”.

“They needed help and hope. This monetary boost could not come soon enough, as many were going to the wall,” she said.

“It’s now important we do everything we can to support our local businesses, so each and every one of us can together help get every single business to the other side of this pandemic.”

Mr Parkin said the downturn disproportionately hurt the hospitality sector.

“Discussing wines with people and having a personable experience is a major thing for us,” he said.

David Gandolfo, director of Quantum Business Finance.Credit:Josh Robenstone

“The positive is, if we can get through this, this time next year will feel like a walk in the park.

“If you’re going to take a 50 per cent-plus revenue decrease, you’d sure as hell rather take it in winter than in summer … so hopefully we can all make it through to November and December and have a profitable summer.”

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David Gandolfo, owner of business-to-business lending firm Quantum Business Finance, said cash grants were welcome but payroll tax deferrals, rather than waivers or reductions, had the potential to create “zombie” businesses.

“It’s great as a headline, but when you just defer the problem you create a problem down the track,” he said.

Mr Gandolfo, also the deputy chair of the Council of Small Business, said businesses may need to pay a far greater amount of payroll tax in future years, which would be seen as a liability by banks and hamper their ability to receive credit.

“In one or two years, no one will be in a position to pay double,” Mr Gandolfo, also the president of the Commercial and Asset Finance Brokers Association of Australia, said.

“The intention is good …. [but] waivers or reductions would be much better, or a payment plan where you know what you will pay next year.”

Mr Gandolfo said the absence of relief for sole traders was a “glaring omission”.

“They don’t employ others but they employe themselves … They got nothing.”

The state government said it would detail financial assistance for sole traders later.

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Paul is a reporter for The Age.

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