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Covid-19 News Updates

SA returning to 50 per cent capacity limits from Thursday but mask mandate to remain

SA returning to 50 per cent capacity limits from Thursday but mask mandate to remain

From midnight on Wednesday 4 August, a number of restrictions on businesses in South Australia will be eased, but many rules including mask mandates and private gatherings limits will remain as the state tentatively returns to pre-lockdown settings.

The eased restrictions will come a week after SA completed a seven-day lockdown which saw an outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19 successfully suppressed in the state.

As of 12.01am on Thursday 5 August, businesses can return to 50 per cent capacity or the one person per two square metre rule while gyms will move to the one per four square metre capacity rule.

Sports will return for competition but there will be some conditions with regards to the number of spectators that can attend.

Masks will still be mandated in all high risk settings, for personal care appointments, on public transport and in indoor public spaces where social distancing is difficult.

Home gatherings will remain limited to 10 people, singing and dancing will still be banned, and schools will keep mask restrictions in place.

The state's border bubble arrangements will also change slightly, allowing competitive sport to occur.

"Historically, [border bubble travel] has been for school, for shopping, medical or work-related services," SA Premier Steven Marshall said.

"We'll be adding a further one this week which is for people to attend sport - we recognise that in the country competitive sport is very important to mental health and wellbeing."

The state's Premier also encouraged South Australian residents currently in Southeast Queensland to consider returning home soon as there is a possibility travel restrictions could tighten if the state's outbreak worsens.

Currently SA is only allowing returning residents to travel from Southeast Queensland who must quarantine at home for 14 days on arrival.

"If they can return to South Australia now, this would be our advice. We don't know that this week is going to hold for Queensland," Marshall said.

"We know that the lockdown in Southeast Queensland has been moved from three days right through to Sunday this week.

"This is something everybody should consider at the moment because there is a possibility that we could move to level six restrictions for South Australian residents as with those people in New South Wales."

Updated at 12.32pm AEST on 2 August 2021.

NSW records 207 new locally acquired COVID cases and another death

NSW records 207 new locally acquired COVID cases and another death

With around a quarter of New South Wales' 207 new COVID-19 cases confirmed to have been in the community for their entire infectious period, the state's Premier has once again stressed the need for vaccination rates to continue improving this month.

"August is the month where all of us should come forward and get vaccinated," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

"I've been saying for some months that 80 per cent of the adult population vaccinated we get our freedoms beyond lockdowns, that's 10 million jabs.

"But clearly when we get to five million jabs or when we get to 9.2 million jabs, which is the 70 per cent number, we'll be able to have a bit more freedom."

The comments came after the state was notified of another COVID-19 related death - a man in his 90s from South West Sydney who had received one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine - bringing the total number of deaths connected to the current outbreak to 15.

Of today's 207 locally acquired COVID-19 cases, 89 were in isolation throughout their entire infectious period, 21 for part of their period and 51 for the entire period. The isolation status of 46 cases remains under investigation.

VIC tightens border bubble restrictions

Travelling across the border south into Victoria from border bubble communities in New South Wales is set to become more restricted from 11.59pm tomorrow when new rules kick in.

Announced today by the Victorian government the new rules will mean those in border communities without a travel permit must have one of six reasons to go south.

The six categories of permitted activity for border bubble residents without a permit are:

  • For necessary goods or services
  • For care and compassion reasons
  • For paid or voluntary work
  • For education
  • To receive a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Or for sport or exercise.

Fines will apply for cross-border travel for inessential reasons.

Updated at 11.49am AEST on 2 August 2021.

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

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

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.

Berejiklian issues stern warning to would-be protesters as NSW records 170 new community cases

Berejiklian issues stern warning to would-be protesters as NSW records 170 new community cases

"Do not give the ones you love the most a death sentence," said New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

With New South Wales today recording 170 locally acquired cases of COVID-19, the state's Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned protesters planning to demonstrate against lockdowns in Sydney this weekend that they are putting lives at risk.

"Can I please warn against anybody taking up illegal activity and protesting tomorrow - you could be taking the disease home and passing it onto your parents, your siblings, your brothers and sisters," she said.

"Do not give the ones you love the most a death sentence.

"This Delta strain is contagious, it's deadly and it's affecting people of all ages."

The Premier's statements were backed up by NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller who said would-be protesters will be met by 1,000 police.

"We know this is such an important time for New South Wales in terms of winning the battle against the virus, and coming into town to protest is not the answer," Fuller said.

"If you think you can splinter from that and protest somewhere else in Greater Sydney, that force will be mobile and we'll be waiting for you."

Of today's 170 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, 52 were in the community for part or all of their infectious period and 53 cases remain under investigation.

187 COVID-19 cases are currently in hospital, of which 58 are in intensive care and 24 are on ventilators.

The state's Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant today urged people to come forward and get tested as soon as any symptoms of the coronavirus present.

"Tragically, we've seen people present very late for care. When people present very late we haven't got the opportunity to provide them with the great care that our health services can provide and outcomes can be much poorer," Dr Chant said.

"Please get tested if you have COVID symptoms, and just to remind the community they are cough, fever, headache, loss of tastes and smells, sore throats, muscle aches and pains."

In order to mass vaccinate the cohort of Year 12 students in the eight local government areas (LGAs) of concern in Western Sydney (those being Fairfield, Canterbury Bankstown, Liverpool, Cumberland, Blacktown, Parramatta, Georges River and Campbelltown), who will return to face-to-face schooling on 16 August, a new immunisation hub will be opened soon.

As announced today by the Premier, from 9 August the Qudos Bank Arena will be transformed into a mass vaccination hub to give those Year 12 students the jab. Once it has performed that duty, it will become a regular hub for those in NSW to get inoculated.

Updated at 11.34am AEST on 30 July 2021.

Brisbane student tests positive to COVID: "I'm struggling to understand how she's acquired it"

Brisbane student tests positive to COVID: "I'm struggling to understand how she's acquired it"

Queensland Health is conducting whole genome sequencing to understand a new case of COVID-19, after a student from Brisbane's Indooroopilly State High School tested positive to the virus.

The 17-year-old female resides in the adjacent suburb of Taringa, but very little other information is known at this stage and Health Minister Yvette D'Ath has urged people to keep an eye out for updates.

"She became unwell yesterday and overnight her result has come back positive," D'Ath said, noting the student's family of five were all being tested as well.

"We're treating this as if the young lady was infectious from the 27th [of July] so she's been in the community for three days and at school for two days.

"I understand the school has already notified families and have closed down for a deep clean."

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young described the new case as quite concerning.

"I'm struggling to understand how she's acquired it," Dr Young said.

"We'll have to wait till we get whole genome sequencing results back later today to be able to work out from where she's got this.

"We do know that we have had 13 incursions of the virus into Queensland over the last six weeks, and we know that in any particular outbreak someone can get infected, not have symptoms, and then spread the virus to someone else which is why it's critically important that we all remain very, very cautious until the vast majority of people have been able to be vaccinated."

Updated at 8:47am AEST on 30 July 2021.

New rules for areas of concern as NSW records 239 new COVID cases

New rules for areas of concern as NSW records 239 new COVID cases

"Based on those numbers, we can only assume that things are likely to get worse before they get better," New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

New South Wales will increase its police presence in eight Western Sydney local government areas (LGAs) of concern to monitor compliance and crack down on uncooperative businesses as the state records 239 new cases of community transmission - the highest daily total in this latest outbreak and to date in 2021 for any state. 

The eight LGAs of concern (Fairfield, Canterbury Bankstown, Liverpool, Cumberland, Blacktown, Parramatta, Georges River and Campbelltown) are now under new rules that will see masks mandatory everywhere outside of the house, and the imposition of a 5km travel limit.

It is part of the state's latest crackdown on the areas of concern, with compliance to be monitored by "thousands" of additional police which will be deployed in the LGAs today and given new powers to close a worksite or business if health orders are flouted.

"The powers particularly will focus on those people who are not doing the right thing," NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said.

"Many will do the right thing - they will follow the health advice. They shouldn't be punished for the few who are doing the wrong thing."

In addition, the fine for not wearing a mask will be increased from $200 to $500 to allow for that extra level of compliance and ensure another layer of deterrence to those who would do the wrong thing.

Of today's 239 new COVID-19 cases, 88 were infectious in the community for all of part of their infectious period, and the isolation status of 70 cases remains under investigation.

"Most of these transmissions are occurring amongst households and in workplaces, but also in health settings," Premier Berejiklian said.

"If you are going to a pharmacist or GP, make sure you don't have symptoms. Make sure that you're asking for medical help from home."

Updated at 11.28am AEST on 29 July 2021.

Another week of masks for SEQ as authorities reveal backpacker case was turned away in WA

Another week of masks for SEQ as authorities reveal backpacker case was turned away in WA

With all eyes on the Sydney COVID-19 outbreak where another month of lockdown was announced yesterday, the minor inconvenience of having to wear masks for another week will be a small price to pay for residents and visitors in Southeast Queensland.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young has repeatedly emphasised the beneficial - although not panacean - effects of mask wearing in containing the spread of COVID-19, so it is unsurprising the requirement has been extended for seven more days given the uncertainty around the spread from new cases.

There were no new community-transmitted cases of the virus announced overnight, but more details have emerged about yesterday's new case, most importantly that he flew to Western Australia after completing hotel quarantine and was sent back to Queensland, that he was in a shared room at a Brisbane hostel, and that he has the Alpha strain of COVID-19.

"I can report now that the genomic sequencing has come in from the gentleman who came in from the Philippines to Brisbane and who is staying at the Roma Street City Backpackers. What we have identified is he is a direct match with three other travellers who he was on two flights with - Philippines to PNG and PNG to Brisbane," Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said.

Those three travellers had different hotel quarantine arrangements to the case concerned who was at Quest Chermside, which D'Ath said confirmed he had contracted the virus while in transit on the plane or through the airport.

"We can confirm also that it is the alpha variant that we are dealing with. I want to thank the Backpackers because the manager there has been absolutely incredible, provided a lot of data which has allowed us to identify and test all individuals associated with that Backpackers," D'Ath said.

Authorities have received 59 negative results from the 62 people exposed to the gentleman in the hostel, with the remaining three results expected today as they were taken last night.

But it is the story of how he ended up at the backpackers that raises the most questions, particularly given his long incubation period with the virus.

"We know that around 1 per cent of people can have an incubation period of longer than 14 days, as has happened with this gentleman," Dr Young explained.

"When he got out of hotel quarantine here in Brisbane, had done his 14 days and got three negative tests, he then on-travelled to Western Australia but they turned him around - they put him into a hotel for two days till there was a suitable flight, and then he was placed on that flight and returned to Queensland.

"I'm just getting the details of that flight he was on. I don't have that yet, but we will contact trace the people who sat around him given he's got the Alpha variant."

Young said when the man arrived back in Brisbane he was already starting to have some symptoms of COVID-19 and upon arrival at the hostel he "essentially stayed in his room there because he was starting to feel increasingly unwell".

"The other two people in the room have tested negative which is good," she said.

Dr Young added the individuals who were at the hostel will be tested frequently.

"We're going to keep those people in the backpackers hotel, we're not moving them into a quarantine hotel, because we're quite comfortable with some extra support for that hotel. We can manage all of these people there - we'll just have to work out which of them have been close contacts and which [are] casual, so who needs to remain there and who we can allow to return to their normal lives.

"We still have those other outbreaks that we're managing with large numbers of contacts," she said, adding there were currently 2,000 people in home quarantine in Queensland.

"It's too early for us to relax at this stage, which is why I've asked that masks remain in place for the 11 LGAs (local government areas) for another week," she said.

Updated at 11:02am AEST on 29 July 2021.

Commonwealth raises COVID-19 Disaster Payment to JobKeeper levels

Commonwealth raises COVID-19 Disaster Payment to JobKeeper levels

The Federal Government's COVID-19 Disaster Payment will see eligible Australians receive financial support more in line with what was on offer through the now-defunct JobKeeper programme, following an upgrade of the emergency payments.

Announced today, the government has upped support to eligible workers who will now receive $750 per week if they lose 20 hours or more of work due to state government lockdown restrictions, while those who lose between eight and less than 20 hours will receive $450 per week.

The new level of payment for the top tranche of workers ($750 per week) is equivalent to what the Commonwealth previously offered through the JobKeeper programme.

That support, which ended earlier this year, saw the Federal Government support businesses and workers with a $1,500 per fortnight wage subsidy paid to employees via their employer.

The COVID-19 Disaster Payment differs from JobKeeper in that those eligible will receive the money directly from the Federal Government.

In addition, individuals who currently receive an income support payment (like JobSeeker or Youth Allowance) will receive an additional $200 on top of their existing payment if they can demonstrate they have lost more than eight hours of work and meet the other eligibility requirements for the Disaster Payment.

The upgrade to the Disaster Payment comes as the New South Wales state government announced further business support measures in light of the month-long extension of its COVID-19 lockdown.

"This new level of payment recognises the significant impact that the new COVID-19 Delta strain is having on communities, businesses and workers," the Federal Government said.

"The Commonwealth Government will provide financial support to those in a declared Commonwealth Hotspot. The provision of financial support outside of these areas will be provided where requested at the cost of state or territory governments."

The new rate will commence for payments processed in the week commencing 2 August and will be automatically updated for those already in the Services Australia system.

It will be available from day one of any potential lockdown in the future, with claims made from day eight in arrears for the previous seven days. A weekly payment will then be made for the duration of the hotspot declaration.

There will be no liquid assets test applied to eligibility for these payments and an individual does not need to use up their personal annual leave before making the claim.

"Our Government will continue to support Australians facing the economic consequences of extended lockdowns," the Federal Government said.

"The Commonwealth Government, through Services Australia, has processed more than 955,000 COVID Disaster Payment claims, paying out more than $490 million to workers in New South Wales and Victoria."

Updated at 3.13pm AEST on 28 July 2021.

NSW bulks up business stimulus as lockdown extended by four weeks, retail radius imposed

NSW bulks up business stimulus as lockdown extended by four weeks, retail radius imposed

With New South Wales today recording 177 new cases of community transmission, the state's Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was "fairly obvious" residents would not be leaving lockdown this week and has extended the settings for another month until 28 August.

From midnight tonight residents will be restricted in where they can shop, testing requirements will be extended to more workers, new rules will apply for the construction industry, a 'singles bubble' will be introduced, and further financial assistance will be extended to more people and businesses. 

Given low vaccination rates, the current stay-at-home orders will remain in place for four more weeks across Greater Sydney including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour.

"Whilst we're looking closely at those areas outside the Sydney metropolitan area, based on health advice it's too risky at this state to release any of them," Berejiklian said.

"So therefore, all those areas currently in lockdown will continue to be in lockdown for a further four weeks."

Premier Gladys Berejiklian emphasised higher vaccination rates and following the health orders were the only way to guarantee a further easing of restrictions.

"Though the Pfizer supply is insufficient there is plenty of AstraZeneca, and updated federal health advice recommends anyone aged 18 and over in Greater Sydney should access the jab," Berejiklian said.

"If you are unvaccinated, please organise a jab as soon as you possibly can, especially if you live in an LGA of concern."

The extension of lockdown settings comes as NSW recorded 177 new cases of community transmission today, 46 of whom were in the community while infectious.

Retail radius imposed

In addition to the lockdown extension, new rules will be put in place from midnight tonight which will see residents given more consistent rules around shopping for essential goods and services.

This means residents of the locked down areas must limit their shopping to within their local government area (LGA) or within 10km from home if the item is not available locally.

Singles bubble introduced

Those living alone can now nominate one designated family or friend to visit for companionship during this extended lockdown period.

This means if you have been living by yourself you are permitted to nominate one person who can visit you, but it has to be the same person every time they visit and they must be someone within your LGA.

"It has to be the same person, it can't be a different person every day," Berejiklian said.

"You have to nominate the one person that is your buddy or part of your singles bubble for the next four weeks to make sure that we don't spread the virus.

"Apart from workplaces where critical work has to occur households remain the biggest problem in New South Wales."

Financial assistance extended

Businesses in NSW will benefit from the extension of the 'JobSaver' scheme, giving greater support to businesses and individuals impacted by the extended lockdown.

JobSaver payments will now be available to businesses with an annual turnover of between $75,000 and $250 million, up from $50 million, which have experienced a revenue decline of 30 per cent or more.

The maximum weekly payment has also been substantially increased, with employing businesses that maintain their employee headcount now able receive between $1,500 and $100,000 per week, up from $10,000, with payments based on 40 per cent of their weekly NSW payroll.

Berejiklian said the additional support would help deliver businesses and individuals the financial assistance needed during the extension of the lockdown.

"We know these restrictions are tough but necessary to get the current situation under control and that is why we are coming to the table to help businesses and individuals with more financial support," Berejiklian said.

"We don't want people to have to worry about how they are going to keep the lights on or reopen their businesses when restrictions ease, which is why we are investing billions to give people that peace of mind."

New rules for the construction sector

Construction will remain banned during the lockdown for eight LGAs that have been designated as areas of concern (Fairfield, Canterbury Bankstown, Liverpool, Cumberland, Blacktown, Parramatta, Georges River and Campbelltown), however outside of those areas construction can recommence in non-occupied dwellings.

In addition, outside of those eight LGAs tradies are permitted to visit a home so long as they won't have contact with anyone while they are working.

"Construction will resume on Saturday 31 July, with safety measures such as controls on movements between sites, reduced contact between workers within sites, improved tracing capability and a focus on encouraging workers to get vaccinated," NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said.

"Works in occupied premises including residential homes can also resume from this Saturday where there is zero contact between workers and residents. There will be a limit of up to two workers for indoor services and five workers for outdoor services, and works will only be possible where it is feasible for residents to vacate the area. If contactless arrangements are not possible, work cannot go ahead.

"Unfortunately, construction will not resume in the eight LGAs of concern - Fairfield, Blacktown, Cumberland, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool, Parramatta and Georges River Local Government Areas."

Year 12s to get vaccinated ahead of a return to school

The NSW Government will roll out the Pfizer vaccine to some Year 12s who are to return to face-to-face schooling in two weeks' time on Monday 16 August.

"I want to be clear that this is based on the fact that within those eight LGAs of concern the New South Wales Government will be vaccinating students 16 to 18 years of age who are in Year 12," Berejiklian said.

"So year 12s, because the Pfizer vaccine is allowed in young adults or young children or adolescents, the New South Wales Government will start a vaccination program.

"I want to stress we haven't been given extra doses of the vaccine from any other government or the states or the Federal Government."

Every other student in the state will continue home schooling until the extended lockdown period finishes.

Tougher restrictions for LGAs of concern

Residents living in LGAs of concern to NSW Health will not be permitted to work outside of the areas they live in because of high rates of case numbers being recorded in those specific areas.

As such, residents living in the LGAs of Fairfield, Canterbury Bankstown, Liverpool, Cumberland, Blacktown, Parramatta, Georges River and Campbelltown must not work outside of their area unless they're a healthcare worker or an aged care worker.

"We don't want anyone leaving the house in those areas unless they absolutely have to," Berejiklian said.

"The virus is now circulating in their community at a rate that we think is too dangerous to allow them to go out for work unless it's in those critical industries that we've identified."

The state government has also expanded its three-day testing regime to include every single worker that lives in the Canterbury Bankstown LGA.

"Canterbury Bankstown has now become the central spot where most cases are being generated," Berejiklian said.

Workers from the Fairfield LGA will no longer have to present for a COVID-19 test every three days, except for those working in the aged care or healthcare industries.

Updated at 12.01pm AEST on 28 July 2021.

Fresh $400m Victorian business support package targets SMEs, tenancy relief and more

Fresh $400m Victorian business support package targets SMEs, tenancy relief and more

The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments will jointly fund a new $400 million round of support packages to help Victoria's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) recover from the recent lockdown, including assistance for commercial property renters and landlords.

The news comes as the state emerges from its fifth COVID-19 lockdown with daily community case numbers back in the single digits with eight reported overnight, and comes hot on the heels of a $283 million stimulus announced a week ago.

The latest scheme, funded 50-50 and to be administered by the Victorian Government, includes a new $85 million Small Business COVID Hardship Fund and a $156 million Business Continuity Fund, as well as boosts for existing hospitality and alpine business support mechanisms.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Victorian businesses have borne the brunt of the heavy cost of lockdowns that kept the state and Australia safe.

"Together we can and we will recover from this," the Prime Minister says.

"Last year, Victoria and our nation faced heavy blows from COVID, but with the right supports in place our economy and businesses came back strongly and a million people returned to work.

"We will continue to do what is necessary to support Victorian businesses as we face the evolving challenges of COVID-19."

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says the package is all about protecting and growing jobs to support the state's economic recovery.

"With this funding we'll continue driving jobs and economic recovery here in Victoria, and for the nation," the Premier says.

The treasurers of both governments have also stressed the importance of these new measures to help Victorians on the pathway out of lockdown.

"No amount of support can make up for what business owners have experienced over the last year and half, but this latest package will support them as they reopen after this latest lockdown," Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, a Victorian himself, says.

"We're supporting Victorian businesses each step of the way as we continue to fight this pandemic," adds Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas.

"We know small businesses have been doing it tough and this new fund will give them the support they need to recover," Pallas says.

Further details on the new supports are as follows:

Business Continuity Fund

A $156 million Business Continuity Fund will be established to deliver $5,000 grants to up to around 30,000 businesses that remain impacted by capacity limits placed on businesses by necessary public health restrictions.

Twenty-four eligible sectors are covered by the fund including gyms, cafes, restaurants, catering services and hairdressers.

Recognising businesses located in the CBD will continue to be impacted due to restrictions on the number of staff allowed in office buildings, they will be eligible to receive an additional $2,000 recognising reduced foot traffic due to office density limits.

Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021

The Licenced Hospitality Venue Fund will receive a $70 million boost, with grants of up to $20,000 to be made available to support licensed venues as their operations continue to be impacted by current restrictions.

These grants recognise that larger venues depend more on dine-in and have higher operating costs, so need more support than smaller operations.

Again an additional $2,000 will also be made available to the business if it is located within the CBD.

To receive this funding, venues will need to have received or been eligible for the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021.

Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme and Landlord Hardship Fund

The package, to be fully funded by the Victorian Government, will deliver $80 million to provide support to landlords that provide rent relief to their tenants.

The Commercial Tenancies Relief Scheme will be reinstated to provide much needed rent relief to small to medium commercial tenants and their landlords with more details on the roll out to be provided by the Victorian Government soon.

A mediation service for tenants and landlords will further support fair tenancy negotiations.

Tenants and landlords will be encouraged to enter negotiations directly, with the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) available to provide mediation if parties cannot reach satisfactory agreement. Landlords will not be able to lock out or evict tenants without a determination from the VSBC.

Legislation will shortly be introduced to enact the Scheme, which will be applied from today to ensure rent relief can start immediately.

"As we emerge from lockdown, this is exactly the right time to provide relief for those businesses that need extra assistance to get back on their feet," says Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford.

"We're calling for good-faith negotiations between tenants and landlords, and the hardship fund will mean landlords who find reasonable common ground will be supported."

Small Business COVID Hardship Fund

A new $85 million fund will be established to support small businesses who have not been eligible under existing business support funds.

Small businesses with a payroll of up to $10 million who have experienced a 70 per cent or greater reduction in revenue will be eligible for grants of up to $5,000.

Alpine Business Support Program

Alpine Business Support will receive a further $9.8 million to deliver grants of between $5,000 and $20,000 to 430 Alpine based businesses in recognition of restricted inter and intra-state travel during the peak winter season.

The funding also includes an additional $5 million support to alpine resort operators and management boards.

The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments continue to work together to support Victorians through this challenging time.

Updated at 11:54am AEST on 28 July 2021.