Council to help shire businesses while appealing to residents to help keep beaches open

Ray Nelson, proprietor of Zimzala on Cronulla beach, where the restaurant is closed but takeaway coffee and food is still available. Picture: John Veage
Ray Nelson, proprietor of Zimzala on Cronulla beach, where the restaurant is closed but takeaway coffee and food is still available. Picture: John Veage

Sutherland Shire Council will help businesses by providing rent relief and cutting fees and charges during the coronavirus pandemic.

The council has also suspended more services, while appealing for residents to help keep beaches open by observing crowd numbers.

Mayor Carmelo Pesce announced the changes at Monday night's council meeting.

Earlier in the day, the council announced the closure of a range of facilities and services.

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Cr Pesce said small businesses were "the backbone of our local economy".

"Restaurant, cafe, bar and club operators across the shire have been directed to provide takeaway and home deliver services only," he said.

"This is a significant burden being borne by our hospitality business community to ensure public health.

"I recognise that those in the hospitality industry adversely affected by necessary government directions, need our support, and we can offer this by way of rent relief; for outdoor dining areas and other rents, food shop inspections as well as other fees and charges.

"Council will develop a comprehensive small business support package."

Cr Pesce said the suspension of more council services included "some specific library programs such as deliver and collection of books to retirement homes and aged care facilities, and select art classes at Hazelhurst Art Gallery".

"Our libraries and Hazelhurst Art Gallery [but not the theatrette] itself remain open, in recognition of their importance to our community," he said.

"All these indoor areas will adhere to the 1.5 metre social distancing and the four square metres per person rule.

"Council's community halls continue to be available, however users must also adhere to social distancing and space requirements.

"Council's early education centres remain open, supporting parents to continue to be able to attend work and deliver critical services."

Cr Pesce said the council recognised "people still need be maintain their mental and physical well-being and being outdoors, and at our beaches, is an important part of daily life in Sutherland Shire".

Natalie Trpeski enjoys Cronulla beach with her children, Anabelle, 3, and Nicholas, 2, earlier this year. The council wants people to continue enjoy beaches by keeping numbers below 500. Picture: John Veage

Natalie Trpeski enjoys Cronulla beach with her children, Anabelle, 3, and Nicholas, 2, earlier this year. The council wants people to continue enjoy beaches by keeping numbers below 500. Picture: John Veage

"This can continue, but only in a responsible way.

"Following the federal government directive, there is to be no more than 500 people in any one outdoor gathering and a minimum of four square metres per person, on the beach and in the water.

"I ask for the support of our dedicated and civic-minded surf club communities, working in partnership with Council's professional lifeguards and the NSW Police, to ensure our beaches remain safe.

"If we must, we will close our beaches, and direct people to vacate until we have safe numbers. We would prefer civic-mindedness over regulation."

Cr Pesce said the council was committed to supporting its staff and providing a safe workplace during this pandemic.

"As the level of government closest to community, we will play our important part in bringing issues of concern and need expressed by our residents that come to our attention during this pandemic, to the attention of other levels of government in a collaborative and constructive manner," he said.

"We will act to give voice to the needs of those who find themselves isolated without support during this pandemic.

"We will work within the set emergency protocols, through our local and regional emergency management structures and we will obey and implement directives and orders. We are all in this together."

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