AUSTRALIA's 1.4 million sole traders face dire circumstances due to COVID-19 according to Fitness Australia CEO, Barrie Elvish, whose organisation represents more than 10,000 fitness industry sole traders.
He is calling on the Federal Government to provide more financial support and assistance to this business sector, claiming not enough was being done to ensure they can survive the current environment.
“In Australia, more than 62 percent of small businesses are sole traders and it appears to date the government has provided no means of financial support to these hard-working Australians,” Mr Elvish said.
“Small business is at the core of the Australian economy employing more than 2.2 million people and we are already starting to see businesses really struggling and don’t know how long they can continue to survive.
“We are calling on the Australian Government to provide financial support and assistance to sole traders, casual employees and small business, many of whom proudly operate in the fitness industry," he said.
“Already the sole traders in our member network, many of whom operate as personal trainers, have seen a sharp drop in their clients due to travel restrictions, social-distancing and self-isolation.
"While we applaud and fully support the government on their recommended health and safety measures, nothing is being done to support this section of the business community that is greatly impacted,” Mr Elvish said.
In addition to advocating for more financial support for sole traders, Fitness Australia is also urging the government to consider gyms an essential service.
“Exercise is imperative to our mental health and wellbeing – gyms need to stay open to allow people to continue their regular exercise. Protecting and managing mental health during this uncertain and concerning time is essential," Mr Elvish said.
“With the strict hygiene, health and safety measures in place, gyms can stay open. We are actively working with our members every day to ensure government laws and guidelines are being met, while also providing additional recommendation on how facilities can continue do more to ensure the safest possible environment to exercise.”