Melbourne workers who have not had shifts due to the extended Covid lockdown will be entitled to aid of up to $ 500 after the Prime Minister announced a new temporary payment in the event of a Covid disaster .
Scott Morrison said Thursday that disaster payment would be available in areas declared a Commonwealth hotspot when any lockdown has lasted for more than seven days.
A weekly payment of $ 500 will be available for people who work more than 20 hours per week while $ 325 will be available for those who work less than that.
Support will only go to people over the age of 17, who worked before the lockdown and can no longer work. They should have less than $ 10,000 in savings.
There are other restrictions, including whether other leave – beyond annual and sick leave – is available to cover the lockdown period. People who already have income or business support, or pandemic leave disaster payment, will not be eligible either.
Applications for Melbourne workers will open on Tuesday via Services Australia.
Payment will not be available to Regional Victorians, however, as their lockdown will only last for a week. Acting Prime Minister James Merlino said on Wednesday that areas outside of greater Melbourne would come out of lockdown at midnight on Thursday. The state capital will remain closed until midnight on June 10 at this point.
There were three new local cases of Covid in Melbourne officially reported on Thursday, including a previously reported case at the Arcare Maidstone elderly care facility. Victoria’s deputy health director Professor Allen Cheng said the two additional cases were a staff member at a Port Melbourne workplace and a child from a previously identified case in Whittlesea.
The three cases were isolated throughout their infectious period, meaning there were no new sites of exposure on Thursday.
Morrison said the level of government that would fund the new disaster payment would be discussed in the national cabinet on Friday. He said two options were on the table: first, for the state government to pay for business support, as Victoria did, and for the Commonwealth to fund individual income support; or alternatively, for the federal and state governments to divide the total cost.
Speaking ahead of the Prime Minister’s announcement, Merlino said he preferred the state to cover business support and the Commonwealth to manage income support.
“State responsibility supports Victorian businesses and we have done so with almost half a billion [dollars] support and we will provide additional support, ”he said. “The federal government [should provide] income support for workers is their sole responsibility, and it would be disappointing if they stepped away from it.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Treasury and Finance Department was working to cost the temporary payment in the event of a Covid disaster. It’s estimated that for 100,000 people, it could cost $ 50 million per week, and with half a million casual people in Melbourne, the cost could be $ 250 million just for the next seven days.
Cheng said Victoria is reviewing the number of cases every day. It was too early to say whether Melbourne’s lockdown would end before June 10, he said.
Victoria administered 23,192 doses of the Covid vaccine on Wednesday and Cheng said the surge had strained Pfizer vaccine supplies.
“There is a strain on Pfizer vaccines in Victoria,” he said. “If we had more, we would give more, but there is a supply chain. It’s from the Commonwealth and it’s from overseas and we’re making do with what we have right now. “
Morrison said Victoria had received 71,000 doses of Pfizer out of the additional 130,000 made available last week and that more could be made available to meet demands from the Victorian government.
The prime minister said the federal government respected decisions by state and territory governments to introduce restrictions based on health advice. But he has repeatedly said that the virus is not to be feared.
“Resilience, strength, character, determination. That’s what beats a virus, fear not, ”Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
Merlino said Victoria did not want to be stranded but followed health advice which was based on only 2% of the population being fully vaccinated.
“The only way out of this pandemic is the successful deployment of the vaccine. The virus is our enemy and the virus does not sleep. The virus mutates – the virus thinks it is a race.