Once again this morning has seen wall to wall media conferences by state premiers and the federal treasurer.
The big news is that the Sydney lockdown will continue for another week while the Melbourne lockdown will ease from midnight Thursday.
Metropolitan Melbourne will be brought into line with regional Victoria, which means all COVIDSafe settings will apply statewide.
Masks will continue to be required in indoor, public-facing settings unless an exemption applies.
A range of venues across Melbourne will now be able to apply the same density limits that apply in regional Victoria, one person per two square metres, provided a COVID Check-in Marshal is on-site to make sure people are checking in.
Crowd numbers will increase at approved public events. Outdoor stadiums can welcome 75 per cent of their capacity, up to 40,000 people, and indoor stadiums can open to 75 per cent of their capacity, up to 7,500 people. Theatres will also open to 75 per cent of their capacity, up to 2,000 people.
So while the Sydney lockdown is onerous it is actually not as bad as what Melburnians have been through previously.
Now to those media conferences
NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, is keen to see that this will be the last lockdown and is actually planning ahead (unlike Scotty who just puts out a plan for a plan that might be a plan)
“I do also want to foreshadow the New South Wales government in the next few days will be putting forward a specific plan that shows what life will look like the day that we exit the lockdown and also what life looks like a few weeks after that time.
So we want to provide certainty to businesses. We know businesses have to plan ahead when they are taking bookings, when they are ordering perishable items.”
Berejiklian was hammered by reporters this morning regarding the effect on businesses and points out that the Commonwealth provides support to individuals while the states provide support to businesses. She indicated that the NSW Treasurer is looking at further support for businesses.
This exchange thanks to The Guardian blog.
Oooft! The premier is getting a grilling from one of the reporters at the press conference, who takes issue with only $10,000 being offered to businesses damaged by the lockdown.
“The platitudes around business are fine but that is what they see it as – platitudes. The most you are offering business so far in New South Wales is $10,000 cash and you are mandating that they shut. Should you be doing more?”
“There is always opportunities for us to consider what more we can do and I can confirm our state Treasurer. They have been in touch with his counterpart at a federal level, we are considering all those options. I know and appreciate how difficult it is and the New South Wales government has already contributed billions towards our economy over and above what we anticipated to support everybody during Covid, where it is various measures, direct grants or our measures we have under taken.”
“Right now ultimately business there are some that won’t come back after these three weeks and there are employees right now who aren’t earning a wage and the best you are doing is $10,000 cash, that is nowhere near enough?”
“I’m sorry, in terms of individuals, the Commonwealth is offering…”
“That is $350. That doesn’t pay rent in Sydney.”
“That is why our Treasurer has been in touch with his federal counterpart to have a conversation about those matters.”
So what was Frydenberg’s response?
“The treasurer of New South Wales has written to me asking for the reinstatement of JobKeeper. We are not bringing back JobKeeper.
That was an emergency support payment that we introduced at the height of the pandemic. We then extended it beyond the initial six months to 12 months. We brought in a tiered payment to take into account the number of hours worked and that JobSeeker payment played a very important part in our economic recovery particularly in keeping the formal connection between employers and employees.”
Let’s bring this into the perspective of a SME, me. I asked my accountant what I should do with the two staff I currently employ. His response was to move them from full time to casual and to stand them down for two weeks so they can claim the support from the federal government. I’m considering my options.
Now for those of you of a certain generation
On Monday, the New South Wales health minister, Brad Hazzard, likened the Australian vaccine rollout to dystopian young adult fiction series the Hunger Games – begging the immediate question: has he actually read the Hunger Games? Does he realise, in this scenario, Prime Minister Scott Morrison would be tyrannical dictator President Snow?
Well, have a read of this article by Matilda Boseley in The Guardian. If you have followed The Hunger Games then I’m sure you will understand the associations, and if you are like me and had no idea what he was referring to – it is enlightening.
So welcome #SnowMo