Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Daniel Andrews have agreed on a support package to help workers affected by Victoria’s snap five-day lockdown.
More than six million Victorians are living under stay-at-home orders for the fifth time since the start of the pandemic, due to a growing outbreak of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
The rules applied during June’s lockdown have been reimposed, including a five-kilometre travel limit for exercise and shopping and compulsory mask-wearing indoors and outdoors.
“We’ve got no choice. We don’t want this getting away from us and being locked down for months,” Mr Andrews said.
Late on Thursday, the federal government announced the COVID-19 Disaster Payment scheme would be available to people who work or live in greater Melbourne, as well as the local government areas of Moorabool Shire, the City of Greater Geelong, Borough of Queenscliffe and the Surf Coast Shire.
People who have lost at least 20 hours a week will get $600 while those who have lost between eight and 20 will receive $375.
No liquid assets test will be applied to the payments.
Under a key change to the federal government’s income support package announced earlier in the week, income support will be available from the first week of a lockdown and is determined by hours of work lost, not the length of stay-at-home orders.
Employment Minister Stuart Robert confirmed the deal on Friday.
“The deal last night – literally at 10.30 finalised – was to say to Victorians whilst these personal income payments for 10 days or more of course will cover Victoria after five days,” he said.
“They will go to Services Australia and be able to claim that payment if they have lost those hours of work.”
The Victorian government will provide “significant additional economic support to businesses”.
Mr Andrews has warned there is no guarantee the lockdown will end as planned at 11.59pm on Tuesday.
“It may be longer because it depends on what every Victorian does,” Mr Andrews said.
However, he flagged restrictions in regional Victoria could be lifted earlier if it was safe to do so
Several hundred people gathered outside Flinders Street Station on Thursday night to protest the latest lockdown, listening to speeches and chanting “sack Dan Andrews”.
A flare was lit as they marched to parliament. Police confirmed no arrests were made.
Victoria’s snap lockdown was imposed after two additional local COVID-19 cases on Thursday afternoon, taking the number of community cases linked to the NSW outbreak to 18.
Most are connected to NSW removalists who breached their worker permit conditions and spread the virus during a drop-off at the Ariele Apartments in Maribyrnong, in Melbourne’s inner-north-west, late last week.
A Victoria Police spokesman said it was helping to establish the three-person crew’s movements as part of a health department investigation.
Of greatest concern to authorities are three cases of suspected “stranger-to-stranger transmission” at an AFL match between Carlton and Geelong at the MCG on Saturday.
- See Victoria’s virus exposure sites here
A positive case also attended the international rugby clash between the Wallabies and France at AAMI Park on Tuesday night, with stadium management working with health officials to identify close contacts.
There are more than 110 exposure sites across Melbourne and regional Victoria, including the MCG and several stores at Chadstone shopping centre.
Victorian locations where there is a risk you may have been exposed to COVID-19: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/exposure-sites