- Victoria announced $534 million support package for affected businesses by Melbourne’s 6-week lockdown.
- Package includes funds for hospitality, tourism, mental health and small companies to ensure the survival of these businesses amid the second phase of lockdown.
- Victorian Treasurer stated that 6-week lockdown would take off 14% of the previous June quarter GDP estimates, Victoria will take up to 3 years to recover.
- Scott Morrison announced to halve the number of inbound travellers into Australia each week as recent arrivals spiked the number of cases.
- Australians have been urged to maintain hygiene as well as social distancing as the country stands at the edge of the second wave.
The new wave of coronavirus has been threatening Australia to reverse all the lockdown and quarantine measures it took initially to combat the virus. Australia had gained early success in flattening the coronavirus curve. However, a mixture of contentment due to the easing of restrictions and blunders in quarantining of travellers who returned from overseas resulted in a fresh outbreak in Victoria.
A rising number of cases in Melbourne city and some other parts of severely hit Victorian state forced authorities to impose a second lockdown for the next six weeks.
Australia has reported more than 9500 cases of COVID-19 and more than 100 deaths from coronavirus till date.
About 5 million people went into lockdown as Melbourne grappled with virus cases. The flame led the rest of Australian states to ban Victorians from entering and halting hopes for a speedy recovery of the nation’s economy. Victoria has been essentially sealed off to protect the rest of Australia’s success in combating the virus.
Victoria announces $534 million support package
Victoria reported a record 288 cases on 10 July, a record daily rise for any part of the country sparking fears of a second wave and forcing the state to go into another lockdown.
Below is the graph showing the number of cases, deaths, tests and recoveries in the state of Victoria.
Source: Victoria State Government, Health and Human Services
As the majority of population in Victoria enters the second coronavirus lockdown, struggling businesses in the state have been given further support by the Victorian government. The government has announced a supplementary Business support package of $534 million which adds to total virus support to $6 billion till now.
About half a billion-dollar package included cash grants for struggling businesses, relief for regional tourism operators to cover refunds as well as marketing and small businesses in Melbourne’s Central Business District in addition to mental health support for business owners. The package also includes funds for hard-hit hospitality businesses, especially those ruined by the closure of Melbourne’s night-time economy.
Treasurer less optimistic on Victoria’s recovery
Treasurer Tim Pallas stated that the well-being and health of Victorians are of utmost importance. The virus is going to be there for a long time as there is no vaccine which sparks the need for continued efforts to slow down its impact. He apologised for the pain and hardship Victorians will have to get through in coming weeks.
The Treasurer highlighted that new support package would permit businesses to take advantage of extended payroll tax deferral that will allow eligible businesses with payroll up to $10 million to defer liabilities for the first half of the financial year. He also expressed his curiosity on finding out if the Federal government would extend the JobKeeper program, which is due to be announced on 23 July.
However, Mr Pallas stated that a 6-week lockdown could wipe off 14% of previous GDP estimates for the June quarter concluding that the state of Victoria could take up to 3 years to recovery. There will be billions of dollars written off the anticipated size of the Victorian economy, while unemployment could peak at 11%.
Further, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg stated that the Australian economy will get an economic hit of A$1 billion per week from the closing of borders and Melbourne lockdown.
Cap on International arrivals
On 10 July, Scott Morrison stated that Australia would halve the number of citizens allowed to return home from overseas every week as the country struggles with rising cases in Melbourne city of Victoria. There has been growing concerns about security failures which led to returning Australian citizens, and permanent residents spread the virus even after taking quarantine measures.
About 357,000 people have returned to date, and the country has planned to cap the number of Australians returning to 4175 each week with a mandatory 14-day quarantine in a hotel which was being paid by the government until now.
Morrison also announced a nationwide review into hotel quarantine after the revelation that a lot of cases in Victoria were related to the conduct during the 14-day quarantine. He added that it was an important step to have confidence in the quarantine arrangements put in place. He noted that the decision was taken to divert resources towards more testing and tracing.
New Chief Health Officer Professor Paul Kelly confirmed the issue of community transmission in Melbourne. He added that all Australians are at risk of COVID-19 regardless of where they live, while asserting the need for social distancing and maintaining hygiene to control the virus spread. He also recommended the use of masks in places of community transmission and where social distancing is not possible.