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Sunday, July 25, 2021

More NSW government assistance imminent: treasurer

The NSW treasurer has acknowledged the state government will need to stump up significantly more financial assistance to businesses and individuals as the likelihood of a long-term Greater Sydney COVID-19 lockdown grows.

He said the NSW government may also make use of federal income support platforms to administer state government-funded financial assistance, if required.

The lockdown of Greater Sydney is due to end on July 16 but both Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Treasurer Dominic Perrottet have in recent days admitted it will likely be extended.

NSW recorded 50 new local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, 37 of which were active in the community for all or part of their infectious period.

Some 16 COVID-19 patients are currently in intensive care, with four ventilated.

Mr Perrottet on Sunday said he expected the lockdown provisions to be extended and this would, in the absence of JobKeeper, cause major damage to businesses and workers.

He said the government would thus be obliged to splash more cash on assistance, and that a second business support package would be announced later this week.

NSW has already spent $1.4 billion on business support amid the current lockdown.

“Last year there didn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel whereas now the vaccine program is rolling out across the state – this gives hope this will hopefully be the last time we have to go through this,” Mr Perrottet told Sky News.

“We’re going to have to do more, that’s just the reality.”

Mr Perrottet was reportedly opposed to the extension of the initial two-week lockdown in Greater Sydney and surrounds due to its effect on business.

While he acknowledged on Sunday that NSW could not currently let the virus run rampant through the community due to low vaccination rates, he said Australians would one day need to adjust and accept the presence of COVID-19 in the community.

“At some point in time we will be opening up the international borders – we can’t be living here on the other side of the world as a backwater,” Mr Perrottet said.

NSW Health on Saturday issued numerous alerts for venues of concern across Sydney.

They include Coles at Kareela, a KFC in Rockdale, Penrith Barbeques Galore, a Bunnings in Padstow and a popular cafe in Centennial Park. 

The busy Broadway Shopping Centre in Ultimo posted on social media it had been alerted to a COVID-positive shopper who visited on Thursday.

Several major outlets, including Aldi, Kmart and JB Hi-Fi, were visited by the case and NSW Health on Saturday evening listed the centre as a venue of concern. 

As case numbers grow, Ms Berejiklian urged Sydneysiders to adhere to lockdown rules. 

“The vast majority of those (new) cases are close family or friends of people who have COVID,” she told reporters on Saturday.

“If you truly love your parents, your sisters, your best friends, please stick to the rules.”

After a further update to public health orders, Sydneysiders are now required to wear masks in all indoor areas of construction sites and common areas of apartment blocks.

The new rules come after city-wide restrictions were tightened on Friday afternoon, with exercise now limited to groups of two and only one person per day from each household allowed to leave the house to go shopping.

AAP

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