“From lockdown to boomtown” was the theme of a speech Capp delivered for a TEDx talk at the Capitol Theatre on Friday afternoon.
“There aren’t many who will stand in front of an audience like this and say COVID has been good for anything or anyone,” she said in the speech.
“But I’m here to do just that.”
She discussed how lockdowns inspired an outdoor dining renaissance and new gourmet home delivery services.
The news media was not permitted to film Capp’s ticketed presentation, but her comments have still sparked a heated reaction.
Business owners have blasted the speech as premature, given many Victorians are still struggling after some of the world’s longest lockdowns.
“It’s very insensitive to the people who lost lives, lost businesses, lost their education, lost their marbles,” Cherry Bar owner James Young.
“Saying that COVID was good and we’ve already recovered is like playing the fiddle while Melbourne is burning as far as I’m concerned.”
The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said shutting Melbourne down for more than 260 days was a disaster.
“People lost their lives, people got sick, businesses were destroyed,” Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Paul Guerra said.
When asked about the comments in Capp’s speech, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy was completely in disagreement with them.
“Anyone who thinks that was a good thing is just tremendously out of touch,” he said.
Meanwhile, the premier had much less to say on the matter.
“That’s a matter for her,” Daniel Andrews said.
The Lord Mayor’s speech did acknowledge that many businesses are struggling, and that with city office occupancy rates around 45 per cent, there is still a lot of work to be done.