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With CBD on ‘life support’, businesses declare 2021 a write-off

Ms Hunter said Melbourne’s economic fundamentals were strong and the sector believed the city had an underlying resilience, but there was a growing impatience to see a long-term recovery plan from the state government.

“So far what we’ve seen have been incredibly important survival packages, but they haven’t thought beyond that and that’s what we’re concerned about. We need the life support super-charged.”

John Caldwell has given up hope that 2021 can be salvaged as a trading period and is concentrating on getting the two CBD branches of his health performance business through to 2022.

John Caldwell has given up hope that 2021 can be salvaged as a trading period and is concentrating on getting the two CBD branches of his health performance business through to 2022.Credit:Jason South

John Caldwell’s business, Absolute Health Performance, has branches on Little Collins Street and William Street, which provide health and fitness services to many office workers and have been hit hard by the lockdowns. Another site, in High Street Armadale, had fared better through the pandemic.

Mr Caldwell told The Age that he expected lockdowns or other forms of public health restrictions to keep people out of the CBD for the rest of the year, making trading conditions hard, if not impossible, and he had little hope of a significant recovery in 2021.

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“The plan is to find a way that the entities are viable entities in six months time, so that we can participate in, hopefully, what’s going to be the uptick,” Mr Caldwell said.

“So we’ll batten down the hatches and do everything in our capability to make sure these businesses are alive in 2022.”

The lord mayor said the council was doing everything it could during the lockdowns to save jobs and businesses in the city.

“These are incredibly tough times and Melburnians are exhausted,” Cr Capp said.

“We know that city businesses are fighting to survive, and if they make it through these latest lockdowns, it could take them more than a year to recover.”

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