News Coronavirus Victoria stimulus to bust Omicron economy ‘fog’

Victoria stimulus to bust Omicron economy ‘fog’

Victoria stimulus plan
Minister Martin Pakula has announced a $200 million economic stimulus package for Victoria. Photo: AAP
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A $200 million stimulus package has been unveiled to boost Victoria’s economic recovery as its “fog” from the COVID-19 Omicron variant dissipates.

The state government on Monday announced the funding, which includes about $100 million in rebate schemes to entice people to spend on dining, entertainment and travel within the state.

“We think this is the best way to target support,” Victorian Industry Support and Recovery Minister Martin Pakula told reporters.

The state will pour another $30 million into its long-running travel voucher program, allowing people to claim rebates when spending $400 or more on accommodation, experiences, tours or attractions.

Mr Pakula anticipates the latest 150,000 vouchers will be available by mid-March, well before the Easter holidays.

The Melbourne Money scheme will also be brought back, with $10 million to lure diners back into the city’s bars, cafes and restaurants.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the payback scheme, which will give diners rebates of 25 per cent on bills between $40 and $500 from Monday to Thursday, will be available from March 7.

She is confident it will be a great boost for Melbourne traders, after previous iterations of the rebates poured almost $60 million into the hospitality sector.

“The Omicron fog is lifting. COVID caution is turning to COVID confidence,” she said.

The concept will be extended to a $30 million program to provide rebates on food, wine and experiences in regional areas, while a further $30 million will reimburse patrons for tickets to theatre, live music, cinemas, museums, galleries and other events.

These rebates will likely become available towards the end of March, Mr Pakula said.

In addition, businesses will share in $60 million to purchase equipment to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and improve customer confidence and another $34.2 million will be used to place workers in more than 1500 jobs across hospitality, warehousing, logistics, tourism and food processing.

The stimulus package comes as Victoria welcomed its first international tourists in two years as a flight from Singapore landed at Melbourne Airport on Monday morning.

Melbourne Airport chief executive Lorie Argus said the arrivals marked a “critical turning point for aviation”, ahead of more international flights landing throughout the day.

The arrival signals the first day of operation for the state’s new $200 million quarantine hub, which will welcome its first cohort of unvaccinated international travellers on Monday.

Meanwhile, delays are continuing to plague Ambulance Victoria.

A 74-year-old Rowville man collapsed from severe COVID-19 symptoms on January 30 and waited almost six hours for paramedics to arrive, the Herald Sun reports.

An Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman said it would reach out to the family to understand their concerns and will review the case to help better understand what happened.

Victoria recorded three more COVID-related deaths and 5611 new cases on Monday, taking the state within 2000 of tallying one million infections since the pandemic began.