Scott Morrison announces $500 weekly cash payment for those stuck in a Covid hotspot and unable to work due to state’s lockdown – but a lot of Victorians will miss out
Residents who live or work in an area defined by the Commonwealth as a virus hotspot will be able to claim money from the federal government once a lockdown goes on for more than seven days.
Workers who cannot do their jobs will be entitled to a $500 weekly payment if they ordinarily work more than 20 hours a week or $325 if they normally work fewer than that.
Scott Morrison has announced a new ‘temporary Covid-19 disaster payment’ for Australians who are stuck in lockdown and unable to work. Pictured: Melbourne on Thursday
They must have less than $10,000 in savings and must have used up any pandemic sick leave to qualify.
Anyone on JobSeeker does not qualify because they are already receiving support.
Melbourne residents currently in lockdown will be able to apply for the cash on the Services Australia website from Tuesday.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he did not know how much the scheme will cost, but said if 100,000 people sign up that will amount to $50million per week.
There are around half a million casual workers – the people most likely to qualify for the payment – in the Melbourne metropolitan area, he said.
The money will be transferred into workers’ bank accounts under the disaster payment scheme which also applies during fires and floods.
Regional Victorians are not eligible because they are coming out of lockdown tonight.
Stacked restaurant furniture is seen outside a business along Lygon Street in Melbourne
What is a Commonwealth hotspot?
The Commonwealth trigger for consideration of a COVID-19 hotspot in a metropolitan area is the rolling 3 day average (average over 3 days) is 10 locally acquired cases per day. This equates to over 30 cases in 3 consecutive days.
The Commonwealth trigger for consideration of a COVID-19 hotspot in a rural or regional area is the rolling 3 day average (average over 3 days) is 3 locally acquired cases per day. This equates to 9 cases over 3 consecutive days.
Mr Morrison will propose a 50-50 payment model to share costs with the states at Friday’s National Cabinet meeting.
The Victorian government has already given grants of up to $7,000 to businesses.
‘What matters is that businesses get the support they need and households get the support they need and the politicians don’t need to have a discussion in public about how that is going to get done,’ Mr Morrison said.
When did states introduce a uniform QR code system?
SA: December 1, 2020
NSW: January 1, 2021
ACT: March 6, 2021
TAS: May 1, 2021
QLD: May 1, 2021
VIC: May 28, 2021
WA and NT: Not mandatory
‘They just need to know it is going to get done… we just need to get on with it to ensure they have the confidence about moving forward into the next week.’
The decision comes after the Victorian government relentlessly lobbied the prime minister for financial support.
Victoria was plunged into its fourth lockdown last week due to an outbreak which originated in hotel quarantine in Adelaide.
It was due to last seven days but on Wednesday the government announced Melbourne would be shut down for another week in accordance with its strategy to eliminate the virus.
State government sources predict restrictions may be in place for weeks.
Three new Covid cases were recorded overnight, taking the total infected in this cluster – which involves the Indian variant of the disease – to 63.
In total, Victoria has suffered five and a half months of lockdown during the pandemic, costing the state an estimated $26billion.
Students have been stopped from going to school for 23 weeks, compared to just seven weeks in New South Wales.
The government has been slammed over its struggling contact tracing system and for failing to implement a mandatory universal QR code check-in system until Friday, five months after New South Wales.
The Liberal-National Opposition has said it would only use lockdowns as a ‘last resort’ and would make them targeted and proportionate rather than across the whole state.
Opposition leader Michael O’Brien also said he would publicly release health advice that lockdowns are based on if he were in power.
A sign on the door of a business in Melbourne after the extension of lockdown was announced