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COVID-19 update: Lockdown extensions, new business support available

Benjamin Kluwgant

20TH JULY, 2021

With NSW, Victoria and South Australia all battling COVID-19 outbreaks, both the Federal and State governments have confirmed business support is on the way.

As case the list of Victorian exposure sites and primary close contacts of confirm cases continues to grow, Premier Daniel Andrews has extended the state’s lockdown for an additional seven days.

The state’s most recent outbreak, which has been confirmed as being the highly infectious Delta strain of COVID-19, has led to identification of hundreds of sites across the state, including popular sports venues, a school outside of metropolitan Melbourne, cafes and public transport.

While the lockdown was initially meant to last just five days, Premier Daniel Andrews has since confirmed that, due to the extensive number of primary close contacts of confirmed cases across the state, contact tracers will need an additional seven days to break the chains of transmission and drive numbers down.

An easing of restrictions has now been pegged for 11:59pm on Tuesday July 27.

“This extension is not what we wanted to do but it is the only option, it’s what must be done,” Andrews said.

“We see how challenging this can become in a very short space of time. We need to avoid what is going on in Sydney at the moment. We are determined to do that.”

Throughout the upcoming seven days, Victorians will only have five reasons to leave home, including to purchase essential goods, exercise, to provide or receive care, to conduct work or receive education where it cannot be done at home, and to be vaccinated.

“Essentially there are those five reasons to leave for reasons from last year plus going and getting your jab and being vaccinated as part of the Commonwealth government’s program,” Andrews said.

The five-kilometre travel bubble will remain in place for this period as well.

Federal and State business support payments available

With the lockdown affecting thousands of businesses and their ability to operate, a $200 million financial support package was announced by Premier Andrews, a scheme that will effectively top up payments to all businesses who were eligible for the payments in the last lockdown.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also announced that financial support in line with what was recently announced for NSW was on the way for Victorians, with individual COVID support payments for those whose work hours have been reduced being paid out for the first week of a lockdown on an arrears basis once the second week started.

“As we’re learning with the Delta strain, it’s highly infectious and it’s important we understand if these things become necessary, then Australians and Australian businesses have the confidence about what the arrangements will be,” Morrison said.

The Prime Minister also flagged that the liquid assets test would be waived from the outset of a lockdown, and that the post 14-day of lockdown business support payments between $1,500 and $10,000 would be available as well if the situation worsened.

South Australia enters one-week lockdown

In South Australia, five positive cases of the Delta variant have been identified, leading Premier Steven Marshall to announce a week-long lockdown across the entire state.

From 6pm on 20 July, South Australians will only be allowed to leave for five reasons, schools will close, elective surgery will be suspended, and all construction work will halt.

“I’m 100 percent convinced that South Australians will rise to the challenge,” Marshall said.

A State-driven business support package for South Australian businesses is expected to be announced tomorrow.

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