National cabinet works on rental relief for small businesses, residential tenants

As non-essential retailers brace for shutdown, the national coronavirus cabinet is scrambling to protect small businesses and residential tenants during the crisis, by saving them from eviction and offering rent relief.

Small businesses forced to shut their doors for months could be protected from eviction and relieved of rent payments to help them make it to the other side of the coronavirus crisis.

The national coronavirus cabinet, which meets again on Friday, is developing radical support measures to enable businesses starved of revenue to effectively hibernate while the country is locked down.

Help for residential tenants is also in the works, with the states considering laws to ensure vulnerable renters can stay in their homes without rental increases.

As non-essential retail stores brace for a shutdown order in Victoria, expected within days, governments are investigating ways to reduce or waive lease payments for commercial tenants who are no longer allowed to operate. Relief for landlords would also be required — perhaps through land tax or council rate discounts — while Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has engaged the big banks for further assistance.

After unveiling a $17.6 billion economic stimulus boost and a $66 billion support package, the federal government is now urgently working on a “hibernation” strategy for parts of the economy.

A key focus is understood to be measures which stop shuttered businesses racking up massive debts and liabilities so that they are in a position to reopen at the end of the crisis.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly spoken about building a “bridge to recovery” for businesses, with workers who are laid off during the crisis supported by welfare payments has doubled with a fortnightly $550 supplement.

“On the other side, we want businesses to be able to open their doors and get on back about their business,

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