The Sydney business community has advised the State Government to delay the rollout of its half-a-billion-dollar voucher scheme for residents.
The New South Wales Government said it was saving the rollout of Dine and Discover vouchers for quieter times.
It was due to be rolled out across Sydney’s CDB this month and statewide from January, but now the entire program will be pushed back to January.
The $100 vouchers for New South Wales residents above the age of 18 were a key part of the state budget.
Under the scheme, each resident would receive four $25 vouchers.
Two can be used on food at restaurants, cafes and clubs and the other two for entertainment activities, such as cultural institutions, performing arts, cinemas and amusement parks.
They cannot be used on alcohol, cigarettes, or gambling and can’t be combined.
Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said business was picking up during the festive season.
“This is actually a busy time for them,” Mr Dominello said.
“They would prefer for the pilot to take place in the months ahead during quieter times when the vouchers would have more impact.”
He said the vouchers would be trialled in the city and in one regional area from around mid-January, with about 50 businesses being invited to take part.
“These vouchers are designed to help stimulate the economy, the economy is going well, our confidence is up, the virus is under control, without being complacent about it,” he said.
Businesses have noticed an “uptick in foot traffic”, particularly in the Rocks area where the trial will be concentrated, the Sydney Business Chamber has told the ABC.
Waiting a few extra weeks will ensure businesses are getting “bang for buck” out of the program, the chamber’s spokeswoman Katherine O’Regan said.
It comes as the state recorded no new locally acquired coronavirus cases on Saturday.
But New South Wales Health said it was concerned about testing numbers falling again.
NSW Health urged anyone with even the mildest of symptoms to come forward for a swab.
Surveillance of sewage treatment plants has found traces of the virus in Batemans Bay and south-western Sydney.
NSW Health said the coronavirus fragments could be from people who have returned to their communities after being in hotel isolation.
But there were also fears there could be active cases in the local community in people who have not been tested.