Our COVID-19 response

Information about measures introduced by the Council to support the community.

Our support measures

The Council has adopted seven support packages, budgeted at an estimated $19 million, to assist businesses, community groups and residents impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Support Package Seven

The following measures, with a combined value of $2.04 million, were approved on 23 November 2021:

  • Free CBD on-street parking in two-hour metered zones for the month of December 2021.
  • Fee and rent relief for sporting and community tenants in City facilities, through to March 2022.
  • Grants worth a combined $590,000 to assist community groups and the arts, culture and heritage sectors in their recovery from the pandemic.
  • $200,000 to media and marketing campaigns to encourage more domestic tourists to the region.

Support Package Six

The following measures were announced on 21 September 2020:

  • Extension of rent waiver for community and sporting tenants of Council-owned land/grounds and buildings until 31 March 2021: estimated value $415,000.
  • Early season (October) opening for Lara Aquatic Centre: $110,000.
  • COVID-19 Gender Impact Analysis: $30,000.
  • Improved community digital access: $25,000.
  • Development of guidelines towards establishing community gardens: $20,000.
  • Food registration fee waiver for 2021: $1.32 million.
  • Health premise fee waiver for 2021: $250,000.
  • A-frame fee waiver for 2021: $88,000.
  • Alfresco fee waiver for 2021: $39,000.
  • Planning for Jobs initiative: $885,000.
  • Business Recovery Grants: up to $500,000.
  • Extra funding for COVID-19 Arts, Culture and Heritage Recovery Grants: $155,000.
  • Town centre activation surveys: $30,000.
  • Short-term parking for businesses: $10,000.
  • COVID-19 recovery marketing and communications: $100,000.
  • Outdoor dining and activation initiatives: up to $200,000.

Support Package Five

The following measure was announced on 25 August 2020:

  • Parking in central Geelong will be free from 31 August until the end of 2020. The decision is a response to Greater Geelong’s return to stage three COVID-19 restrictions.

Support Package Four

The following measures were announced on 30 June 2020:

  • Free parking in 2P spaces in central Geelong: $3.16 million (estimated)
    Continuation of free parking in 2P spaces in central Geelong until 31 December 2020. From 1 January 2021, resumption of free 30-minute parking in 2P spaces, until 30 June 2021.
  • Tourism and Events campaigns: $500,000
    To support three targeted tourism and events campaigns aimed at attracting visitation in the current environment: a Domestic Short Break campaign ($200,000), a Visiting Family and Friends campaign ($150,000) and a Business Events Program ($150,000).
  • Heritage, Arts and Culture initiatives: $490,000
    A range of initiatives recommended by the Geelong COVID-19 Arts Recovery (G-CAR) panel, including skills and training ($30,000), employment opportunities in creative industries ($330,000) and grants ($150,000).
  • Kardinia pool winter opening: $300,000
    For Kardinia pool to remain open throughout July, August and September, allowing increased opportunity for lap swimmers while gathering limits at pools remain in place.
  • COVID-19 Quick Response Grants for community groups: $250,000
    Allows for 125 grants of up to $2000. Aims to help community groups reactivate their venues and programs.
  • Targeted commercial rent relief: $232,000 (estimated)
    Waiver of rent for the next three months for commercial tenants of Council-owned buildings who have been most impacted by the pandemic.
  • Support for international students: $133,000
    A range of initiatives aimed at reducing the isolation and hardship faced by international students in Geelong.
  • Small Business Expert Support Program: $100,000
    Continuation of the program started in March, providing free expert advice to local businesses in financial management, digital marketing and HR, as well as industry-specific mentoring.
  • Continue the COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy
    Opportunity for businesses and individuals to defer rates, fees and charges owing to the City. Call 5272 5272 or email [email protected] to discuss your options.

Support Package Three

The following measures were announced on 28 April 2020:

  • Council rates waived from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020 for the estimated 130 Greater Geelong businesses which have been required by government directions to fully close, at a cost of approximately $262,000.
  • A total of $283,907 in financial support to the 1,482 local businesses who pay the Central Geelong Special Rate, which will cover a quarter of the annual special rate.

Support Package Two

The following measures were announced on Tuesday 14 April 2020:

  • The creation of a financial hardship policy (details below);
  • $50,000 towards the purchase of fresh food to support food security;
  • $100,000 to fast track a business case to build 100 new social housing units in Greater Geelong;
  • $80,000 for a small business online training program;
  • $20,000 for a new Arts and Culture Advisory Group, which will be established to help develop targeted support to the sector;
  • $30,000 to digitise the Heritage, Arts and Culture Program to support increased access online ;
  • Redeploying staff to the Finance team to help reduce payment times for contractor and supplier invoices to between seven and 14 days;
  • Extending the refund of food and health premises registration fees from three months to 12 months (estimated value $1.18 million); and
  • Extending the waiver of rent for community and sporting groups using City of Greater Geelong-owned land/grounds and buildings from August until 30 September (estimated value $90,000).
  • The council also supported the decision by the City’s administration to provide off-street CBD carpark permit holders the option to suspend their permits until further notice, and to provide 1000 special free all day parking permits to employees of Barwon Health’s University Hospital.

Support Package One

The following measures were announced on Tuesday 24 March 2020:

  • development of a Council COVID-19 financial hardship policy including consideration of rates
  • waiver of rent/fees for community and sporting groups within City owned land/grounds and buildings for six months from 1 March 2020
  • reduction of rent by 50 per cent for eligible commercial tenants in City buildings or on City land for six months from 1 March 2020
  • refund of Alfresco Dining permit fees for 12 months
  • refund of A frame permit fees for 12 months
  • refund of food premises registration fees for three months of the 2019-2020 financial year
  • refund of health premises fees for three months of the 2019-2020 financial year
  • development of Business Support Portal for local businesses
  • development of Small Business Expert Support Program utilising local businesses
  • Geelong Business Concierge Service Expansion to support business program development and
  • free casual on and off street parking in the Geelong CBD until 30 June 2020.

Councillors have also agreed to the development of a medium to longer-term package to be funded in the 2020-2021 financial year and presented to the council by June.

COVID-19 financial hardship policy

The financial hardship policy provides businesses and residents who pay rates, rent, fees and/or charges to the City the ability to apply to:

  • defer their payments for a mutually agreed period and
  • create a payment plan for rates that suits their individual circumstances.

It includes the following opportunities for those suffering hardship:

  • Waiver of penalties for late payment of pet registration fees and the option to enter a payment plan;
  • Commercial waste customers can suspend, cancel or amend their collection service without penalty; and
  • Event organisers can be refunded any associated fees or charges paid to the City where the event was cancelled or closed due to government COVID-19 directions.

The City has also stopped referring outstanding debts for debt collection and is waiving interest on all debts from 14 March until 31 October 2020.

Anyone wishing to discuss their options under the policy is invited to email [email protected] or call 5272 5272.

Community Grants Review

Community groups and organisations will be able to apply for a share in more than $4.33 million in funding after the Council approved an expanded 2020-21 Community Grants program.

All grants streams will be maintained at their existing funding levels, with two new streams added as part of the latest COVID-19 support package.

It means the total funding available through the 2020-21 grants program is $400,000 higher than in 2019-20 and $2.62 million above 2018-19 levels.

Applications will open on 17 July. Details of all Community Grants as well as information about how to apply will be available at www.geelongaustralia.com.au/grants.


Parking in the Geelong CBD

The City is running a 'buy one hour, receive the second hour for free' initiative in 2P zones on weekdays during 2021-22, to encourage people to enjoy shopping and dining in central Geelong.

This follows a period of free casual parking in all our CBD spaces, which was provided via a COVID-19 support package for the community. 


Eligibility for 50 per cent rent reduction

The aim of this relief package for commercial tenants in City buildings or on City land is to support local small businesses affected by COVID-19.


Eligibility for rent/fee free package

The aim of this relief package for community and sporting groups using City-owned land, grounds or buildings is to support community groups and clubs that have been affected by COVID-19 requiring the closure of facilities and/or inability to use grounds for their activities.

Geelong Business Support

The City's Geelong Business Support program gives local businesses access to free expert advice on digital marketing, finance and human resources, as well as access to expert business mentoring. 

Apply now to receive personalised support and expert one-on-one help. 

COVID-19 support information for local businesses

The City has created a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Business Support page to keep local business people informed about assistance available to businesses impacted by Coronavirus.

The page outlines the City's support packages and lists available state and federal government assistance, mental health support and other helpful links.

Page last updated: Wednesday, 1 June 2022