Sydney Lockdowns Extended: Here’s the Support Available
Published 10:57 pm 31 Jul 2021
Sydney’s Lockdowns have been extended for a further 4 weeks – and that might be just the beginning. Here’s the support that’s available to help you get through it.
Table of content
- Australian Defense Force to be Deployed
- Could the lockdown be extended further?
- JobKeeper Won’t Return
- Disaster Relief Payments For Individuals
- Support For Businesses: JobSaver Program Expanded
- One-off Payment for NSW Businesses
- Rental Relief for Victorian businesses
- Support From Banks – Deferrals & Moratoriums on Foreclosures
- Protecting your wealth
In a press conference on Wednesday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that Sydney will remain in lockdown for an additional four weeks until August 28 following continually high outbreaks of COVID-19.
On Saturday, NSW recorded 210 new cases of COVID-19, and a man in his 60s from southwest Sydney died in his home yesterday, becoming the 14th fatality since the Delta outbreak began on June 16.
The Queensland Government also entered a snap lockdown beginning at 4 pm Saturday and ending at 4 pm on Tuesday following an outbreak of 6 local COVID-19 cases.
Below, you can find a live ticker of the latest cases of COVID-19 across Australia:
Residents from Georges River, Parramatta and Campbelltown LGA’s will join Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool, Cumberland and Blacktown in not being able to leave their local community to work unless they are on the list of authorised workers.
Residents in the above LGA’s are required to wear a mask at all times outside the house and cannot go more than 5km from home for exercise, shopping or single bubble visits.
A stay-at-home order will apply to those in Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour, with individuals only allowed to leave home for the following reasons:
- To shop for essential items (one person only within LGA/10km)
- Care and compassionate reasons (one visitor only)
- Exercising in groups no more than 2
- Work and education that cannot be conducted remotely
Students will need to be homeschooled during this period, though the NSW Government aims to have Year 12 students back in school by August 16 in order to help them prepare in classrooms for their HSC exams. In order to achieve this, the government is redirecting roughly 40,000 Pfizer vaccines toward students.
Australian Defense Force to be Deployed
In an effort to ensure people abide by the lockdown laws and mask mandates, fines have been increased for those caught without masks from $200 to $500 across the state.
Furthermore, the NSW Police Commissioner Michael Fuller has requested that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) assist with the ongoing COVID-19 efforts, stating:
“I have now made a formal request to the Prime Minister for ADF personnel to assist with that operation.”
The NSW Police Commissioner continued to say that the state will be “significantly expanding” the law enforcement presence in the state, with 300 ADF personnel requested to “boost its operational footprint”.
“This will be a functional, effective and dynamic team to fight this pandemic,” said Mr. Fuller.
Could the lockdown be extended further?
While the extension to Sydney’s lockdowns were expected given the persistently high number of new cases within the city, the continued lockdowns will undoubtedly still present a challenge to those who will be unable to work as often or whose work is ceased entirely during the 4 weeks.
Moreover, some experts are already suggesting that the lockdowns may even be extended beyond August 28th due to the current rate of vaccination in NSW not keeping up with the goal of the NSW government to reach a vaccination rate of 80% by the end of the four weeks.
The NSW Government has stated that an 80% vaccination rate is necessary for COVID restrictions to be ended and for interstate travel to resume.
If the lockdowns continue to be prolonged, some experts speculate that Australia could be plunged into a recession.
The lockdowns will cost the economy of Greater Sydney $750 million per week according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and some estimates suggest that as many as 300,000 jobs could be lost, in conjunction with a 2.7% contraction in the national economy this quarter.
Already, more workers in Greater Sydney are claiming the COVID-19 disaster payments available during the lockdowns than the number that claimed JobKeeper at the peak of lockdowns in 2020.
If you’re one of the many Australians who will be struggling during these latest lockdowns, here are some of the forms of government support that may assist you.
JobKeeper Won’t Return
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ruled out bringing back JobKeeper during these latest lockdowns, stating that the JobKeeper wage subsidy is “not the right solution for the problems we have now.”
“What we are doing now is faster, it is more effective, it is more targeted, it is getting help where it is needed far more quickly,” said the PM.
Instead, both the NSW and Federal Governments have implemented various forms of financial aid to those affected by the lockdowns, beginning with an expansion of the COVID-19 disaster relief payments that are being sent out.
COVID-19 Disaster Relief Payments For Individuals
People who lose more than 20 hours of work a week while in lockdown will now be eligible for a maximum payment of $750 per week, and those who have lost between eight and 20 hours will be eligible for a $450 payment.
This is a further increase from the $600 and $375 payments that were provided to the respective groups, which was itself an increase from earlier payments of $500 and $325.
Welfare support recipients who lose eight or more hours of work will also become eligible for payments of $200 per week.
You can access the disaster relief payment page here.
COVID-19 Support For Businesses: JobSaver Program Expanded
Alongside the announcement that lockdowns would be extended throughout Greater Sydney, the NSW and Federal Governments have announced that the existing JobSaver Program would be expanded.
The payments will remain conditional upon businesses maintaining their employee headcount as of the 13th of July, in order to maintain employment levels. Additionally, businesses need to have suffered a 30% or more decline in turnover to be eligible for the payment.
Depending on staff levels, annual turnover and the impact of the lockdowns, businesses were previously eligible for between $1,500 and $10,000 per week. On Wednesday, that cap was increased to $100,000.
Additionally, the expanded payment would see that eligible entities, including not-for-profits, are eligible to receive payments between $1,500 and $100,000 per week with the maximum turnover threshold increased from $50 million to $250 million.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has said that this threshold increase would double the number of eligible businesses to 460,000, which could help roughly 3 million employees.
Sole traders that have experienced a 30% or more decline in their turnover will be eligible for $1,000 payments.
One-off Payment for NSW Businesses
Businesses, sole traders and not-for-profit organisations in NSW that have been impacted by the recent lockdowns may be eligible for a one-off grant that is dependent upon the reduction in their turnover.
As stated on the Service NSW website, businesses, sole traders and not-for-profits can access the grants for the following reductions in turnover over a minimum 2-week period from 26 June 2021 to 17 July 2021, compared to the same period in 2019:
- $7,500 for a decline of 30% or more
- $10,500 for a decline of 50% or more
- $15,000 for a decline of 70% or more.
Applications for the one-off grant will close at 11:59 pm on 13 September 2021.
Visit the Service NSW website for more information about the one-off grant.
Rental Relief for Victorian businesses
On Wednesday, the Victorian Government announced that the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme would be reintroduced, providing rental relief for eligible tenants in addition to an $80 million fund for landlords that are also struggling.
Businesses with less than $50 million in turnover with a 30 per cent reduction or more or in their earnings can claim a proportionate rent reduction, to either waive or defer their rental payments.
Support From Banks – Deferrals & Moratoriums on Foreclosures
In addition to federal and state government support, the Australian Banking Association (ABA), which is comprised of 22 of the country’s biggest lenders, announced various support measures several weeks ago, designed to assist those struggling financially with the lockdowns.
The relief includes repayment deferrals of up to three months for small businesses with loan debt less than $3 million and a turnover of $5 million or less.
Additionally, both individuals and businesses can request payment deferrals on their home loans, which will then be re-assessed on a monthly basis by the bank.
We welcome the support measures the banks have announced to help businesses and homeowners affected by the NSW lockdowns.
— Dom Perrottet (@Dom_Perrottet) July 8, 2021
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia also announced on the 19th of July that it will be implementing measures to help Australians who are struggling with the pandemic, including a moratorium on any home foreclosures until February 2022 for customers who are unable to make their home loan repayments.
Commbank’s CEO Matt Comyn said that “extending our freeze on any foreclosures will give those customers who are again impacted by COVID-19 more time to get back on their feet, and reassurance that they can remain in their home this Christmas and into next year.”
The conditions surrounding the moratorium are as follows:
“The moratorium will allow Owner Occupier customers who have made their home loan repayments on time for at least 12 months prior to their deferral, but are again unable to make their full repayments, to remain in their home until at least February 2022.”
The freeze on foreclosures was scheduled to end in September this year but will be extended for five months in light of the renewed lockdowns across the nation.
Additionally, CBA customers can access a two-month deferral on their home loan repayments, which the bank states would be “especially helpful for those in the Fairfield, Liverpool and Canterbury Bankstown LGA’s and for customers in the construction and discretionary retail sectors.”
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