Many offices are still empty as big businesses and even some government departments continue remote work arrangements, despite premier Mark McGowan last week saying “people should keep going to the office, going to work, and keep taking basic precautions to stay COVID-safe”.
Hospitality businesses are especially struggling from a lack of coffee-chugging and sandwich-snaffling city workers.
Last week Mr Zempilas urged CBD office workers to get back behind their desks, saying their city needed them.
At the March 29 council meeting he put up Perth council staff as exemplars leading the way back to the office.
“I wanted to acknowledge also all of our staff who continue to lead by example and come in to work on a regular basis.
“Nobody should be shocked by that statement, I know, but in our community it’s absolutely fabulous and I want to thank CEO Michelle Reynolds and every member of the staff down, particularly those who operate out of this building.
“I want to thank all of our staff for leading by example and I note that in some sections of our local government community here in Perth some local governments are actually closed.
“You can’t enter their buildings. There is no one in there. And clearly, the example that we are looking for is the one that’s being set here and I want to thank everybody for coming to work.”
He said some local businesses were starting to get bookings again from tourists now that borders had opened and the Covid peak neared.
In response to city business’ continued struggles, last month the council launched a “Bounce Back” plan to hand out quick grants worth up to $5,000 for those impacted by covid, and they’re also trialling cheap day-time parking and free night-time parking in an effort to get things lively again.
Mr Zempilas said this week the grants had been working out so far and “$30,000 has been approved to 12 businesses and we’re working through more applications as quickly as possible”, and they’d extended the application period for the first round.
by DAVID BELL