Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Thursday night agreed to a new COVID-19 support package that will make it easier for business owners and workers to access emergency income support when a state or territory forces them into a CCP virus lockdown.
As part of the new arrangement, when a state or territory, such as in the case of Victoria, imposes a lockdown of fewer than seven days, the Commonwealth will provide income support through the COVID-19 Disaster Payment.
Workers who have lost between eight and less than 20 hours of work can receive a payment of $375, and those who’ve lost over 20 hours can receive $600. No liquid assets test will be applied to eligibility for these payments.
The costs will be shared between states and territories and the Commonwealth.
“The Commonwealth Government will provide income support for those who work or live in the areas declared as a Commonwealth Hotspot. The provision of income support outside of these areas will be provided where requested and at the cost of the State or Territory Government,” the PM’s statement read.
Almost 12 million Australians are now subject to stay-at-home restrictions after Victoria announced another snap lockdown.
The lockdown is the state’s fifth and comes in response to a growing outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
The Commonwealth has declared hotspots for Greater Melbourne, Moorabool Shire, the City of Greater Geelong, Borough of Queenscliff, and Surf Coast Shire, effective 11.59 p.m. on Wednesday until 11.50 p.m. on July 20.
Meanwhile, the Victorian premier has declared a five-day statewide lockdown effective 11.59 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Commonwealth will fund the payments for people who live and work in the Commonwealth-declared hotspots, and Victoria will find the rest.
“Payments will be made in arrears on application to Services Australia 7 days after the commencement of the lockdown (that is from Friday 23 July 2021),” the statement reads.
More information about the payments can be found on the Services Australia site.
Travel restrictions are in place, with gatherings capped at two people and no visitors allowed to homes.
There are only five reasons to leave the house, including essential shopping and getting vaccinated.
More than 100 exposure sites have been listed across Victoria, which has recorded 36 active cases.
There are fears the statewide closure could stretch beyond five days if case numbers explode.
“Should the Victorian lockdown be extended, the additional features of the upgraded and revised economic support arrangements proposed by the Commonwealth will be activated by agreement,” the PM’s statement reads.
This comes as Sydney residents in New South Wales face at least another two weeks of restrictions.
With the country’s two major cities in lockdown, Morrison said the changes to the COVID support package would simplify and streamline the assistance package.
National cabinet will meet on Friday afternoon to discuss the vaccine rollout and support payments.
AAP contributed to this report.