$260m business package released as Southeast Queensland lockdown extended to eight days

$260m business package released as Southeast Queensland lockdown extended to eight days

Brisbane Grammar School is one of several exposure sites listed, with more expected to come. Residents of Southeast Queensland have been encouraged to check the list regularly. 

After reporting 13 new cases of COVID-19 linked to the Brisbane school cluster, the Queensland Government has concluded a Tuesday lockdown lift will be "insufficient" and has extended the stay-at-home orders until 4pm Sunday, 8 August.

Eligible businesses will receive a payment of $5,000 at an estimated cost of $260 million, on top of the COVID-19 disaster payments which were confirmed yesterday with the Federal Government's hotspot declaration for the locked-down areas.

Treasurer Cameron Dick noted previously retail and consumer spending had bounced back following short lockdowns, but the situation has been more challenging lately.

"But now we've had two lockdowns in the space of one month and that just hasn't allowed Queensland businesses to be able to recover from the impact of the first lockdown," Dick said.

"So today I'm announcing a $260 million package to support Queensland businesses, particularly small and medium sized enterprises. We'll be opening a 2021 COVID business support grant program that'll be $5,000 grants available to Queensland businesses; not just businesses in the lockdown area, but that'll be available to all Queensland businesses.

"That recognises the impact that the Delta variant has had on those businesses because it stopped the visitors, it stopped the tourists coming from other parts of the country who are also in lockdown."

Within the lockdown areas of Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Ipswich, Logan City, Redlands, Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Somerset, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and the Gold Coast, the government will also be ensuring those grants are available to large businesses that operate in the hospitality and tourism space.

"Can I just say to businesses across Queensland, thank you for your strength and resilience. You have been terrific, you've been fantastic during the pandemic, you've kept businesses going, you've kept our economy going, and now we're providing some support to you.

"Every lockdown is different and every lockdown requires a different response at multiple levels from government, but this is an important step.

"We're also calling on councils to look at how they can help businesses. The Federal Government's dug deep, the State Government's dug deep - we've gone into deficit and borrowed to help. We're looking to councils now to do their bit to help businesses in their affected local government areas as well.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath has also revealed the Delta variant in Queensland is leading to higher rates of hospitalisation than in NSW. She emphasised this outbreak was not like any seen before in the state, and the lockdown in turn was also much tougher.

"Please don't just rely on what you know have been the lockdown rules previously. This lockdown is harder for a good reason. We're trying to save lives," Minister D'Ath said.

"The number of people you're allowed in your households, which is zero, where you can go, what you can do, the rules are stricter this time...check for exposure sites on a regular basis, multiple times a day.

"Retail shopping is not essential. Food shopping is but only go out when you really need to go shopping and getting your groceries."

Dr Jeannette Young explained the source of the first infection in the outbreak - the 17-year-old student of Indooroopilly State High School (ISHS) - is still unknown, and her previous speculation that a University of Queensland (UQ) medical student passed it onto her has been disproven.

"Now I am very confident that the medical student did not take the virus into that household with five people in it where the 17-year-old was. One of that household gave it to the medical student, so I don't know where the missing link is," Dr Young said.

"All I know is we had two people arrive from overseas into the Brisbane International Airport on the 29th of June, and subsequently those two people were found to have the Delta variant with a particular whole genome sequence, and now this outbreak, 29 additional people later, are all clustering with those two.

"But I don't know how it's got from those two original people to this household of five."

There are now 31 cases linked to the cluster that became known with the reporting of the case from ISHS on Friday. Of the latest cases, seven are Ironside State School students, five are household or family contacts of theirs, and another is linked to a case from a karate school that trains at the school.

The Ekka has also been cancelled for Brisbane in light of the circumstances.

"This is the first time that we've seen an outbreak like this one spreading in schools amongst students, teachers and parents, and by extracurricular activities and public transport. It will likely see thousands of people subject to home quarantine directions," Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.

"Clearly now the lockdown extends beyond the intended start day of the Ekka, and that means we've had to make the very regrettable decision to advise the Ekka to cancel their event fo this year. It will not be able to go ahead.

"I know that's sad and disappointing for many Queenslanders who love their annual ritual, their annual trip to the Ekka - we just can't afford to have an event like that where people travel into town and circulate in in large numbers. The risk is too great."

He added there were still too many people on the road in Brisbane at the moment, and too many people out and about.

"If you absolutely have to leave your home, please make sure you wear a mask. Just because you worked in previous lockdowns doesn't mean you should work through this lockdown," Miles said.

"This is a message to employers. Does your staff really need to be coming into work? Do they need to be coming into the office? Can they be working from home? If the answer is yes, then that's where they should be," added Minister D'Ath.

"The obligation is as much as employers as it is the individual workers to ensure that their staff are staying home unless it's absolutely essential."

Click here for an updated list of exposure sites. At the time of writing, five schools have been listed as exposure sites - ISHS, Ironside, Brisbane Boys' Grammar, Brisbane Girls' Grammar, and St Peters Lutheran College, among numerous other sites in Southeast Queensland.

Updated at 10:15am AEST on 2 August 2021.

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