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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Federal support package to NSW sets national framework

A generous federal support package has been agreed for NSW businesses hit by Sydney’s coronavirus outbreak.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian have announced JobKeeper-style payments that go above and beyond arrangements during Victoria’s most recent lockdown.

The new national framework will also apply to other states and territories struck by subsequent outbreaks.

“Clearly, here in NSW, the situation has taken a very different turn,” Mr Morrison said in Sydney.

“This support will be offered to any other state or territory that experiences an extended lockdown.”

From week four of a lockdown in a declared hotspot, the disaster payment will increase to $600 if a person has lost 20 or more hours of work a week or $375 for between eight and less than 20 hours of work a week foregone.

A direct payment to businesses will go to those with an annual turnover between $75,000 and $50 million who can demonstrate a 30 per cent decline in turnover.

Not-for-profit organisations will receive between $1500 and $10,000 per week based on the level of their payroll.

For sole traders, the payment will be set at $1000 per week.

“I’m grateful for the speed with which the Commonwealth has responded to the issues we raised,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

NSW reported 89 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, with cases nearing 800 since mid-June.

A second death was recorded from the latest outbreak, a man aged in his 70s from the eastern suburbs.

Payments will be made available across NSW, with the costs shared 50/50 between the NSW and federal governments.

There is also a $17.35 million mental health support package for NSW including for services through Lifeline, headspace and Kid’s Helpline.

The NSW government will separately offer rent relief for commercial and residential tenants and payroll tax deferrals for businesses.

Economists have estimated the cost of the lockdown at $1 billion a week, even with many businesses still open.

Regional NSW is also at greater risk, with a case confirmed at a Goulburn construction site that has now been shut down and workers sent into isolation.

With the rapid spread of the Delta variant across households, Sydney’s lockdown is likely to continue beyond Friday and into at least a fourth week.

Social services and union groups have demanded more support for affected residents across Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour areas.

Tougher restrictions are being brought in for Sydney’s southwest after a surge in infected family groups, with essential workers in the Fairfield local government area required to get a COVID test every three days. 

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said it was humiliating for Mr Morrison to admit he was wrong on ending the JobKeeper wage subsidies.

Labor called for rent relief, no evictions, and support on gas, power and internet bills.

Federal and state health authorities have continued to urge younger people not eligible for Pfizer vaccines to talk to a doctor about getting AstraZeneca.

A national expert panel has reassessed its advice as community transmission increases but maintained its position on Tuesday on preferring the Pfizer vaccine for people under the age of 60.

After weighing up the risks from the Delta variant, if Pfizer supplies remain unavailable then people should think about getting protection from AstraZeneca, officials said.

People in an outbreak area getting AstraZeneca are advised to cut the gap between the two required doses to four to eight weeks, not 12 weeks.

AAP

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