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Support for Small Businesses and Organisations

Learn about the latest changes that may affect your small business or organisation. If your operations are affected by the coronavirus and you need assistance, view the types of support offered by the Australian government.

Latest Updates


Mentally Healthy Workplaces by Black Dog Institute

Mentally healthy workplaces can prevent mental health issues and promote recovery, not only benefitting the individual but the whole workplace by engaging workers, increasing productivity and reducing turnover.

Mental health training is a key action to creating a mentally healthy workplace. Training can help business owners, managers, and workers build their personal resilience by increasing their understanding of their own mental health, how to support others and how to access support if they (or someone they know) need it.

The Black Dog Institute in partnership with the NSW Government is providing free mental health training to any NSW private sector business with less than 200 employees, and not-for-profit organisations of any size.

Workplace mental health toolkit

A free practical guide for workplaces with information and strategies to support wellbeing at work. View more information.

Expert Insights for Workplaces

Free webinar series designed for managers to help lead mental health in the workplace. View more information.


The Small Business Fees and Charges Rebate 

A new $1500 rebate designed to help small businesses pay for NSW Government fees and charges will open next month.

Eligible businesses can use the rebate to claim back the cost of NSW and local government fees and charges up to $1,500. Eligible fees and charges include food authority, liquor and tradesperson licenses, business vehicle registration fees, and council rates. 

To be eligible, the applicant must be a small business, sole-trader or not-for-profit organisation, have an Australian Business Number (ABN) registered in NSW or business premises physically located and operating in NSW, and be able to report a payroll below the NSW 2020–2021 payroll tax threshold of $1.2 million. 

Visit the Service NSW website to view the full eligibility criteria and the guidelines.

Live Music Support Package funding 

Businesses that operate a live music venue that has suffered financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 may be eligible for funding from the NSW Government's Live Music Support Package. Eligible businesses can apply for funding to be used for operational costs related to running the venue.

Applications open Tuesday 6 April and close Monday 19 April 2021.

For more information, visit the Service NSW website.

This program is part of the NSW Government’s Tourism Support Package.

New COVID-19 compliance measures for venues – UPDATE

26 March update:

A number of COVID-19 restrictions across NSW will be eased from 12:01 am Monday 29 March. These include:

  • all venues to move to the one person per 2sqm rule (venues will be allowed at least 25 people before the 2sqm rule applies)
  • 100% seated capacity at entertainment venues including stadiums and theatres.

Businesses and other organisations must continue to ensure they keep accurate records of all attendances, including through QR Codes, to enable fast contact tracing in the event of any community transmission. 

Dine & Discover NSW

Customers can now redeem “Dine NSW” vouchers on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, as well as Monday to Thursday. New Dine & Discover NSW Terms and Conditions are available to view here, and they will also be emailed to businesses directly.  

For more information about the scheme, visit Dine & Discover NSW

Additional support 
Local businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 can access the online information hub for small businesses here


Dine & Discover NSW

The NSW Government is launching Dine & Discover NSW to encourage the community to get out and about, supporting dining, arts and tourism businesses and stimulating spending in the economy.

Initially the scheme will invite customers to use their vouchers with participating COVID Safe businesses, as part of a testing period, in The Rocks and Broken Hill in early February. Dine & Discover NSW will then be piloted with a larger group in Sydney CBD, Northern Beaches and Bega Valley from late February. The statewide rollout will commence in March.

Learn more about Dine & Discover NSW and support dining, arts and tourism businesses.



7 December

Venues including hospitality venues and retail:

  • 1 person per 2sqm (with 25 people permitted before the rule applies), except for: gyms and nightclubs (1 person per 4sqm, with a maximum of 50 people allowed in gym classes or on the dancefloor at nightclubs)

Stadiums and theatres:

  • outdoors: 100% seated capacity, and 1 person per 2sqm rule for unstructured seating areas
  • indoors: 75% seated capacity. 

Gatherings in outdoor public spaces:

  • up to 100 people for outdoor gatherings (up from 50)
  • up to 5,000 people for outdoor events that are fenced, ticketed and seated (subject to the 2sqm rule)
  • up to 3,000 people for other organised outdoor events i.e. community sport and outdoor protests (subject to the 2sqm rule).

Dance floors:

  • up to 50 people indoors.


  • up to 50 performers indoors, no maximum cap outdoors
  • advice is for congregation/audience to continue wearing masks if singing. 

Under the changes, maximum capacity caps will be removed subject to the 2sqm rule for:

  • bookings at hospitality venues
  • weddings
  • funerals
  • regional agricultural shows
  • corporate events
  • religious services.



24 November

Council has endorsed to extend financial assistance to waive outdoor dining fees and food inspection fees until March 2021.


(a) That in the spirit of cooperation with the NSW State Liberal Government in supporting local businesses to recover from the effects of COVID-19, the City of Ryde suspend outdoor dining fees and food inspection fees until the end of March 2021.

(b) That the proposed resolution (as identified in part (a) above) be exhibited for a minimum period of 28 days with a further report being brought back to Council to determine the resolution following the public exhibition period.

(c) That all local businesses in Ryde be informed of Council’s decision to exhibit the proposal through all media channels.  

NSW Government Out & About Scheme (NEW)

19 November

From late January 2021, the NSW Government will be rolling out their new Out & About Scheme to support local hospitality, arts and tourism providers across the state.

NSW residents and aged 18 and over will be eligible to receive four $25 vouchers ($100 in total). The vouchers can be used at participating eligible NSW businesses and venues who are registered as COVID-19 Safe.  

The Out & About Scheme will be divided into two categories: 

  • dining out – two vouchers can be used to purchase food at venues such as restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs. 
  • going out – two vouchers can be used for activities, such as visiting cultural institutions, performing arts, cinemas and amusement parks.  

For your business to be part of the Out & About Scheme, you need to:  

  • have a MyServiceNSW account
  • be operating in NSW  in one of the eligible industries (details to come)
  • have a valid bank account 
  • have an active Australian Business Number (ABN) as of 31 October 2020 and be registered for Goods and Services Tax (GST). 

COVID-safe businesses can use their MyServiceNSW business profile to manage the scheme for their business. 


NSW Small Business Supports Quick Reference Guide

View the NSWSBC Quick Reference Guide(PDF, 600KB) which outlines current key NSW Government small business resources and supports.

Grants for COVID 19 solutions

Businesses can apply  for an (unmatched) funding pool totalling $1.5M ($500k each round). This funding comes from the Innovation Districts Challenges (IDC) and is designed to accelerate the commercialisation of research products that address the impacts of COVID-19 by businesses in partnership with universities and CSIRO in NSW.

More information can be found at the Macquarie University website as well as the NSW Treasury Website which includes the eligibility criteria.

Easing of COVID-19 restrictions: information for small businesses – UPDATED

22 October

The number of people who can attend outdoor gatherings, restaurant group bookings and weddings will increase under a relaxation of COVID-19 rules. 

From Friday 23 October 2020:

  • 30 people can gather outdoors in public spaces (this was previously 20)
  • 30 customers for each booking and 30 customers at each table at hospitality venues (previously the rule was a maximum of 10).

View the media release for more information or visit the NSW Government website.

Information for businesses about protecting customers and staff – UPDATED

22 October

A toolkit developed by the Department of Customer Service can help businesses to communicate with customers about COVID-19 related health and safety information. The toolkit includes content and links to download additional materials, and cover the following topic:

  • The three types of Public Health Alerts NSW Health might issue to a community. Link to toolkit.

13 October

From Friday 16 October 2020, restrictions at hospitality venues will be eased to allow one patron for every two square metres in outdoor areas (previously this was one person per four square metres). Businesses wishing to take advantage of the relaxed restrictions must use electronic methods, like QR codes, to record and keep contact details.

Under changes effective immediately, 500 people are able to attend outdoor seated music performances and rehearsals, subject to the four square metre rule and people being seated.

More information is available here.


NSW Government’s COVID Safe Check-in tool now live

10 September

The NSW Government has developed a free digital registration tool called the COVID Safe Check in, on the Service NSW app. This tool will help businesses to remain COVID safe and meet requirements for the collection and storage of customer contact details

How the COVID Safe Check in will work

  • When a business registers as COVID Safe at, they will be given a unique QR code to display in their store.
  • When a customer visits, they simply scan the QR code to check in.
  • The customer will be prompted to download and install the Service NSW app if they need to.
  • The Service NSW app will then verify the customer and register them as being at the business.
  • Customers can use the app to check in quickly and easily. It’s contactless (so they don’t need to share a pen) and their personal data is stored securely.
  • Businesses will find the app is a free, secure, easy way to meet requirements for the collection and storage of customer contact details, which may be used for contact tracing purposes if required.

Visit Customer record keeping at for a full explainer on customer record keeping options and QR codes. 


Business connect - Free online toolkit 

27 August 

Many small businesses are facing challenges as a result of COVID-19. In response, Business Connect has launched an online toolkit packed with over 40 pre-recorded webinars, training videos and factsheets. 

Resources are free and accessible 24/7, offering practical advice and training on a range of topics. From building an online store and understanding Facebook marketing to redefining your product or service for recovery, businesses can find a wealth of tips to help them cope and adapt.

The online toolkit complements Business Connect's advisory service, providing tailored, independent advice and a busy calendar of live interactive webinars and online workshops to help small businesses start, run, adapt or grow. 

Free webinars for small businesses – UPDATED

26 August update

Free webinars are available for businesses navigating the impacts of COVID-19 from AusIndustry, the Australian Government's agency for delivering assistance, programs and services which support industry, research and innovation.

Visit Eventbrite to register for the webinars. Topics include adapting to change and creating value through research and innovation. 

Information for businesses about protecting customers and staff – UPDATED

26 August update

Safe Work Australia has developed a new guide to help businesses decide how to manage the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace.

It provides practical guidance for work health and safety (WHS) duty holders about how to work safely during the pandemic.

The National guide for safe workplaces - COVID-19 is now available on the Safe Work Australia website.

Export assistance grant – UPDATED

26 August update

Applications are now open for the Export Assistance Grant. Established exporting businesses in NSW are eligible to apply for 50% reimbursement of eligible exporting enabling expenses, such as marketing and e-commerce, already paid for at the time of application.

Visit the Service NSW website to view the eligibility criteria, guidelines and to apply

Opportunity for NSW businesses to help fill the medical supply chain

20 August update

The NSW Government has introduced a $5 million grants scheme to locally manufacture critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during COVID-19.

The new grants are available for manufacturers who can demonstrate their ability to ramp up or repurpose manufacturing of items including masks, gowns, disinfectant, hand-wash and soap or their components, reducing our dependence on imports and providing a secure source for Australia’s future needs.

The application process, program guidelines and eligibility criteria will be released shortly.

COVID-19 recovery grant to help small business re-launch – UPDATED 

17 August update

The deadline for applications for the Small Business Recovery Grant of up to $3,000 has been extended until 11:59pm Monday, 31 August 2020. (Previously applications were due to close on Sunday 16 August.) 

The list of highly impacted industries has been broadened to include 18 additional industries, which means that more small businesses can apply. 

The additional 18 industries are:

1. Building and Other Industrial Cleaning Services
2. Creative Artists, Musicians, Writers and Performers
3. Employment Placement and Recruitment Services
4. Interurban and Rural Bus Transport
5. Labour Supply Services
6. Metal Coating and Finishing
7. Motion Picture and Video Production
8. Music and Other Sound Recording Activities
9. Optometry and Optical Dispensing
10. Other Allied Health Services
11. Other Goods and Equipment Rental and Hiring not elsewhere classified
12. Other Motor Vehicle and Transport Equipment Rental and Hiring
13. Other Social Assistance Services
14. Physiotherapy Services
15. Post-production Services and Other Motion Picture and Video Activities
16. Printing
17. Takeaway Food Services
18. Urban Bus Transport (Including Tramway).

View the media release for more information. Visit the Service NSW website to apply.

Business Connect: free advisors and online workshops – UPDATED             

17 August

The NSW Government’s business advisory service, Business Connect, has developed a new toolkit to help businesses as they continue to navigate the challenges of COVID-19.

The toolkit includes more than 35 webinars on a range of business-related subjects, fact sheets and training videos.

View the media release for more information, or register interest


Latest rules for hospitality venues

24 July update

From 24 July 2020, cafes and restaurants, breweries, cellar doors, clubs, bars and casinos must now follow the same restrictions as pubs and will need to register as a COVID Safe business. Venues that do not comply may face fines. For more information, view the latest venue rules and media release.

SafeWork NSW recovery @ work toolkit

24 July update

Mental health is paramount at this challenging time. Many people and businesses are operating from home or working in different workplaces altogether. The COVID-19 recovery@work toolkit provides a one-stop shop for tips and resources to help with adjusting to new ways of working.

Outdoor markets. Are they allowed to operate?

24 July update

Food markets provide essential goods and have always been able to operate during the pandemic. Non-food markets are also able to operate provided they have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place that addresses certain criteria and ensures no more than 1 visitor per 4 square metres of publicly accessible space.

Commercial tenancy leases during COVID-19 – UPDATED

24 July update

A step-by-step interactive commercial leasing tool is now available on the Service NSW website. The tool assists tenants and landlords to negotiate a commercial lease where a tenant is having difficulty paying rent as a result of COVID-19.

COVID-19 NSW border entry permit – UPDATED

24 July update

New border entry rules apply from 22 July.

Under the Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Amendment Order 2020

  • changes have been made to the eligibility criteria for permits
  • a “border zone resident” has been redefined.

If eligible, people can apply for a new permit containing a QR code. Permits issued before 4pm on 21 July expired at 11:59pm on 21 July, except those issued under compassionate grounds, which remain valid until the expiry date.

Visit NSW Government’s Border restrictions page for more information and updates.


17 July update

On 17 July, the NSW Government announced they will tighten COVID-19 restrictions around “higher risk” activities as the pandemic enters a new phase of community transmission.

From 24 July 2020, the following rules will be force:

  • Compliance measures introduced to pubs will be extended to restaurants, bars, cafés and clubs:
    • Limiting group bookings to a maximum of 10 people (except for weddings, funerals and corporate events). There should not be more than 10 customers per table
    • The capacity of the premises must not exceed 300 patrons, or the number allowable by one customer per four square metres of space, whichever is leser
    • Mandatory COVID-Safe plans and registration as a COVID-Safe business
    • A digital record must be created within 24 hours and maintained for a period of 28 days. QR codes and contactless record keeping is encouraged
  • Venues must have assign one staff member as a COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshall
  • Weddings and corporate events will be limited to 150 people subject to the four square metre rule and registration as a COVID-Safe business. Strict COVID-Safe plans must be in place and high-risk activities including choirs and dancing must not occur
  • Funerals and places of worship will be limited to 100 people, subject to the one person per four square metre rule and a COVID-Safe business registration.

For more information, view the media release.

New COVID-19 compliance measures for pubs

17 July update

New rules have been introduced to pubs across NSW from Friday 17 July that limit group bookings to a maximum of 10 people and cap the number of customers inside a venue to 300 people. The new measures follow the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

For more information and to view the full set of requirements, read the media release and visit COVID-19: What you can and can't do under the rules.

To complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan and register as a COVID Safe business, visit the COVID Safe businesses page on the NSW Government website.

COVID-19 NSW border entry permit (NEW)

NSW has temporarily shut its border with Victoria to contain the spread of COVID-19.

From 8 July, a border entry permit is needed to travel from Victoria to NSW (exceptions apply). Visit the Service NSW website to apply, and view the media release for more information.

A new permit will be available Thursday 9 July to allow people to travel between NSW and VIC for work. Workers whose employer has a COVID-19 safety plan will not be required to self-isolate.

Visit the Border restrictions page on the NSW Government website for more information.

Support for employers to assist injured workers (UPDATED)

9 July update

SIRA’s Support4work grant for small business provides financial assistance of $4,000 paid in two payments, to help a small business manage the recovery at work of an injured person, while the business recovers from the economic impact COVID-19. Visit the SIRA website for more information.

Business Connect: free advisors and online workshops (UPDATED)

9 July update

Business Connect has a range of pre-recorded webinars available to support small businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit the Business Connect website for more information.

Loan repayments deferment to help business owners (UPDATED)

9 July update

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) has confirmed banks will extend deferred repayments on loans for up to four months for customers continuing to experience financial difficulty and reduced income as a result of COVID-19. For more information, please visit the ABA website.


Support for community sporting clubs and associations (New)

A one-off grant of up to $1,000 will be provided to close to 12,500 local sporting clubs and associations across NSW to assist clubs when sport resumes on 1 July. The grant is part of NSW Government’s $27.3 million Community Sport Recovery Package to help the sector get back on its feet.

View the media release and visit the NSW Office of Sport website for more information.


16 June update

From 1 July:

  • Cultural and sporting events at outdoor venues with a maximum capacity of 40,000 are allowed up to 25 percent of their normal capacity. Events must be ticketed and seated and follow strict guidelines.

View more information on the 1 July changes. For more information on current restrictions, click here.

Information for businesses about protecting customers and staff (Updated)

15 June update

A small business planning tool is available from SafeWork Australia to help businesses manage work health and safety during COVID-19, and as restrictions ease. The tool outlines key steps and considerations for small business when operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit the SafeWork Australia website for more information and view the new planning tool.

COVID-19 recovery grant to help small business re-launch (New)

A new grant of up to $3,000 will help NSW small businesses in industries highly impacted by COVID-19 to safely re-launch their operations. Applications will open by 1 July 2020.

View the media release for more information.

Export assistance grant (New)

A $10,000 Export Assistance Grant will be available for up to 1,000 export ready or export capable NSW businesses, helping them access new markets or re-enter old ones where business has ceased. The grant is part of a $13 million package to boost regional business.

View the media release for more information.

NSW Government launches COVID Safe Check for business

10 June update

Businesses will be able to check, test and promote their COVID Safe credentials with the launch of the NSW Government’s online COVID Safe Check.

When businesses complete their COVID-Safe Plan online and self-declare, they are registered as COVID Safe. They will receive collateral (posters, stickers and digital assets for use in their premises and online) allowing customers to know that their business is COVID Safe.

Customers are invited to provide feedback on how successfully the business is achieving a COVID Safe environment. Customer feedback will be kept private and stored securely, and will be combined with overall feedback and provided to the business as statistics. This feedback will assist business owners with the knowledge and awareness to operate in an increasingly COVID Safe way.

View the media release and visit the NSW Government website for more information.

Business Connect: Free advisors and online workshops

10 June update

New Business Connect advisors are being deployed in NSW (in both metropolitan and regional areas) to help provide valuable advice and guidance.

Among the 40 new advisors are those who have experience running their own businesses in industries impacted by COVID-19, including the arts and creative industries, retail and tourism. Advisory sessions with Business Connect are currently free of charge.

View the media release and visit the NSW Government website or call 1300 134 359 for more information.

Resources to support healthy workplaces as restrictions ease

13 July update

The following resources can help businesses stay resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond:

  • Beyond Blue has a range of free resources to help employers, employees, managers and small businesses create mentally healthy workplaces, and a 24-hour hotline to support the mental wellbeing of Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Call 1800 512 348 or visit the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service.
  • The My Business Health web portal offers dedicated holistic support for businesses to access financial support, to prepare, respond and recover as the economy reopens, and for seeking out emotional support.
  • Ahead for Business by is designed to help businesses understand mental health and manage business stress, and the service provides tailored recommendations, information and programs.

3 June update


Commercial tenancy leases during COVID-19

28 May update

Content has been added to the Service NSW website outlining steps for tenants to negotiate commercial rents.

View lease negotiation steps.

Fee waivers for small business

28 May update

Premium rates for the Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer (which is managed by icare and covers many businesses and workers) will remain unchanged from 30 June 2020.

Customers can contact icare on 13 44 22 to discuss their individual business circumstances. Further details on COVID-19 measures and impacts are available on the icare website.

Easing of COVID-19 restrictions: information for small businesses

View the updated Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 4) 2020 for detailed information.

Information on the NSW Government website helps businesses get back to work in a COVID-safe way, covering topics such as:

Changes have been made to the list of premises required to have a COVID Safety Plan. COVID Safety Plans can be accessed here. This includes plans for the following industries:



Financial support available to assist small-medium arts, cultural and screen organisations impacted by COVID-19

Funding will be available to NSW not-for-profit arts and cultural organisations assessed as being in financial distress across NSW on a case-by-case basis, in a $50 million package announced by NSW Government.

The Rescue and Restart package will be delivered in two stages:

  • Funding available now to enable NSW not-for-profit arts and cultural organisations to hibernate temporarily
  • Funding available in the coming months to enable NSW not-for-profit arts and cultural organisations to restart operations after the COVID-19 pandemic.


Service NSW

The NSW Government is providing financial support to ease the pressures on small business as a result of COVID-19.

A stimulus package is available for small businesses and covers taxes, rents and parking, and licence, registration and permit fee waivers. Other support initiatives include JobKeeper payments, small and medium enterprise guarantee scheme, access to superannuation for sole traders, instant asset write-off, boosting cash flow for employers and backing business incentives.

NSW workers and businesses can also access a range of advice and support on non-health related COVID-19 enquiries via the Service NSW contact centre on 13 77 88.

NSW SMall Business Commission

Businesses struggling with cashflow and making usual payments such as rent and a lease can contact the NSW Small Business Commission for advice. The Commission offers a confidential dispute resolution service and can also assist small businesses with issues in relation to insurance and regulatory concerns.

Find out more about:

SafeWork NSW

SafeWork NSW has launched a new web portal to support business and help them provide a mentally healthy workplace for all employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit the portal.

Business Connect

Business Connect is now offering free online workshops and free advice. Their website contains over 60 workshops and webinars covering cash flow, emergency planning, pivoting a business model, setting up e-commerce and more.

All advice is now free advice – the client contribution has been waived. The cap on hours is also waived, and businesses who have previously accessed the maximum volume of services can now access more support if needed.

To find events specific to the coronavirus, visit their website and search for "COVID-19".

JobKeeper Subsidy

This subsidy helps eligible employers and employees stay connected. A payment of $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) will be paid to eligible employers, for up to six months, for each eligible employee that was on their books on 1 March 2020

First payments are expected to be received by eligible employers in the first week of May. Eligible employers can apply for the payment online and are able to register their interest via the Australian Tax Office (ATO) website.

On 21 July the government announced proposed changes to JobKeeper including an extension through to 28 March 2021 and the introduction of tiered payments for eligible staff from 28 September 2020. Visit the ATO website for more information.

Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC)

If you are experiencing difficulties meeting your obligations to the ASIC due to COVID-19, you have the option of discussing payment plans and applying for fee waivers. Visit the ASIC website for more information.


Mental health is paramount at this challenging time. Many people and businesses are operating from home or working in different workplaces altogether. The COVID-19 recovery@work toolkit provides a one-stop shop for tips and resources to help with adjusting to new ways of working.


Further Information

Visit The Treasury for more information including guidelines on employer and employee eligibility. For more information on services that support small businesses, visit our Support Services page.

Last updated on 12 April 2021