• Staff writer

Maybe there is a free lunch – every Hawkesbury resident over 18 to be handed $100 vouchers

To help business get back on their feet after being hit hard by Covid, the State government is set to hand out $25 dollar vouchers to every Hawkesbury resident aged over 18, up to a total of $100 per person.

Two $25 vouchers can be used for eating in at restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and clubs from Monday to Thursday, excluding public holidays.

Two $25 vouchers are to be used for entertainment and recreation, including cultural institutions, live music, and arts venues, available seven days a week, excluding public holidays.

The vouchers can only be used within businesses that have implemented a Covid Safety Plan and are registered as Covid Safe.

Eligible businesses in the Hawkesbury can now register to take part in the NSW Government’s Dine & Discover NSW.

The program is aimed at creating an economic boost for local dining, arts and tourism businesses, which have been impacted by Covid-19, and to encourage customers to get out and about safely.

It’s not happening overnight though, with trial programs to be rolled out across NSW first. At the moment, Hawkesbury is not on the list, but should be by June at the latest, possibly sooner.

Service NSW is launching an app for businesses who sign up, so they scan and track voucher usage over the life of the program. The scanner will read, validate and accept the vouchers.

Businesses will be able to use the online Service NSW Business Profile to check their transaction history and payments pending.

$50 in total to buy a meal in a cafe or restaurant. Pic: Min An

After applying online, NSW businesses will be able to track the progress of the application through their MyServiceNSW Business Profile. Business owners will then receive a step-by-step process on how to get ready.

The program will be rolled out in a few steps so the government can assess the way it works and hopefully lead to a seamless customer experience.

Phase one will include a pilot at The Rocks in Sydney and in Broken Hill this month.

The pilot will then be expanded to the Northern Beaches, Sydney CBD and Bega Valley Shire Council, which is expected to come on stream by late February.

The findings from the pilots will inform the state-wide rollout, which is expected to begin in March and continue into June.

Hawkesbury MP, Robyn Preston, who announced the voucher-splash, is encouraging local businesses to register and get ready so they can hit the ground running when the program goes live.

“We’ve heard loud and clear just how tough it has been for businesses in our community. This program will help reinvigorate the local economy and provide customers with hip pocket relief,” Ms Preston said.

“With a high uptake of the vouchers expected across the state, the Business Profile provides one, easy-to-use location for businesses to stay on top of voucher transactions,” Ms Preston said.

“All eligible businesses will receive an email from Service NSW with details on how to register. I also urge residents to do yourself a favour and download the Service NSW app now in anticipation of the rollout.”

The vouchers can only be used within businesses that have implemented a Covid Safety Plan and are registered as Covid Safe. For more information on Dine & Discover NSW business registration and eligibility, visit www.nsw.gov.au

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Main pic: cottonbro

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