WA businesses ready to reopen

CCIWA Chief Economist

Aaron Morey

New survey data from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA) reveals the vast majority of WA businesses were ready for the now-abandoned February 5 reopening of our borders. In a survey conducted in the 24 hours prior to the cancellation of WA’s reopening, 73 per cent of WA businesses indicated they are sufficiently prepared.

Just one in ten WA businesses (10%) felt they were “not prepared” for the border transition on February 5th.

Despite being prepared for the border to reopen, respondents confirmed the significant challenges facing business.

Their biggest concern is uncertainty over border rules and testing and isolation protocols (87%).

Businesses in health care and social assistance (86%), manufacturing (75%) and cafes, pubs and bars (80%) indicated they are highly impacted by the uncertainty. Since the survey was released that uncertainty has only increased, with no date currently set for Western Australia’s reopening to the world.

Respondents also confirmed challenges of: access to workers (82%), wage pressures (82%), and supply chain disruptions (72%) and rising input costs (71%).

Nearly two-thirds of respondents expect these issues will intensify as Omicron spreads. Indeed, half of all survey respondents, and nearly two-thirds of small businesses, are expecting cash-flow to worsen as Omicron spreads. To prepare for the presence of COVID in WA, most WA businesses plan to shift to a hybrid model of office and remote work (57%), more than the share who will continue working from the office (55%). Just 11% expect to shift entirely to remote working.

Small businesses identify they need help from Government to acquire and fund rapid antigen tests (77%), and financial grants if they must close due to isolation rules or revenue losses (61%).

While WA’s reopening has been delayed, the spread of Omicron in Western Australia is assured. To prepare for this inevitability, CCIWA has recommended that the Government use the time it has to establish a range of support measures for the business community.

CCIWA is calling on the State Government to provide financial assistance to businesses impacted both by the delayed border reopening, and the inevitable spread of COVID-19 within the community. We are also calling on the Government to assist businesses to acquire and fund purchase of rapid antigen tests.

The rapid-fire business survey summary is attached.

This survey attracted 372 responses in around 24 hours.

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