Kristie Hammond in her Belgian Gardens home with Lilliane, 8, Finn, 3, and Penny, 5. Picture: Evan Morgan
Kristie Hammond in her Belgian Gardens home with Lilliane, 8, Finn, 3, and Penny, 5. Picture: Evan Morgan

Virus crisis hits small business as workers laid off

CORONAVIRUS is forcing the hand of Townsville businesses, some of which are already rolling out redundancies.

In a worst-case scenario, some predictions indicate national unemployment may reach 10 per cent.

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said national unemployment could reach 7 per cent by October 2020. Townsville's unemployment rate is already at 8 per cent.

TP Human Capital managing director Clayton Cook said there would be some negative effects on employment in the short term but these were at an early stage.

"Obviously sectors in anything that involves large groups of people gathering together will be affected," Mr Cook said.

He said that included hospitality, events, travel and tourism. Education and training, as well as weddings and funerals, would be affected.


He said there would be flow-on impacts to businesses involved in everything from the supply of flowers to catering and dressmakers, while the loss of income and disposable income would flow through to the wider economy.

While people employed as casuals were exposed to loss of income, Mr Cook said permanent employees, depending on the entitlements, could also be in trouble.

He said the high proportion of public sector employees in Townsville would put the city in a better position than other centres like Cairns which was reliant on tourism.

Townsville Enterprise tourism and events director Lisa Woolf said hospitality, events and tourism businesses were trying their "absolute hardest" to keep people employed but redundancies were occurring.



Restaurateur Jamie Fitzpatrick said the hospitality, tourism and events sector was bearing the brunt of impacts "on the front end" but that the professional services, the construction industry, accountants and solicitors would feel the lag of a slowdown in industry at some time.

Belgian Gardens mum Kristie Hammond found out she no longer had a job on Tuesday.

She had been working for a national generator company.

But after a month of no supplies coming from China and less work available, she was made redundant.

Ms Hammond worked 12-15 hours a week while her three children - 8, 5 and 3 - were at school and daycare.

But Ms Hammond considers herself one of the lucky ones, because she had Centrelink payments to fall back on.

"I was pretty shocked and tried not to cry at work," she said.

"Things are going to be tight, but I will be OK. I could be among all the people losing their jobs."

With so much uncertainty, Ms Hammond said there was no point in looking for a new job just yet.

"Nobody is going to be hiring unless it's Woolworths," she said. "No one is going to be hiring in the industry I was in. We don't know if the schools are going to be closed, and I'm going to have to be at home with the kids."

Ms Hammond, who is also an intuitive healer, has a backup for a little extra income.

Originally published as Virus crisis hits small business as workers laid off