Covid-19 disaster payments to be available to Queenslanders amid lockdown

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Queenslanders who lose work as a result of the southeast’s snap three-day lockdown will be able to apply for financial support.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham confirmed the Commonwealth assistance would be made available to millions of impacted residents in the 11 local government areas ordered to stay home from 4pm on Saturday.

Just a few days after it was revealed the disaster relief payments would be boosted in the wake of the extended lockdown in NSW, Queenslanders will be eligible to receive $750 per week if they lose 20 hours or more of work as a result of the lockdown.

For those who lose between eight and 20 hours, $450 will be handed out.

The Morrison government and Labor state premiers had publicly clashed over the decision to order stay-at-home directives throughout the pandemic, but Mr Birmingham said the highly contagious variant devastating NSW had changed the way leaders approached Covid-19 policy.

“We recognise the Delta strain is highly transmissible, that it is 100 per cent more transmissible than the types of Covid-19 we’ve dealt with last year and the right thing is to go in early, go in hard and get on top of it,” he told reporters on Saturday afternoon.

The finance minister said the trigger to make payments available for those in Queensland’s southeast was the area being declared a hotspot by federal chief medical officer Paul Kelly, which Mr Birmingham assured would happen at some stage on Saturday.

He said Scott Morrison and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had already spoken and both agreed the snap lockdown was the best course of action.

The applications to apply for the payments will be available by August 7, according to Mr Birmingham.

On Saturday morning, Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the state government was considering rolling out financial support for workers or business owners.

In NSW, the Berejiklian government has provided business grants up to $100,000 but the Sydney-wide lockdown is expected to last more than two months.

“We just ask you to bear with us throughout the day as we work through those details and hopefully have something to talk about tomorrow at our update,” Mr Miles said, who fronted the media for the announcement while Ms Palaszczuk was holed up in hotel quarantine.

The three-day lockdown through to Tuesday afternoon is the strictest of the many enforced on Queensland throughout the pandemic, with health authorities increasingly anxious of a destructive outbreak similar to the current crisis devastating NSW.

No visitors are allowed in households and exercise is restricted to within 10km of homes.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the crisis in Sydney was a pressing factor in the decision to lockdown millions of Queenslanders.

“New South Wales had one case on 16 June. Thirty-eight days later, they are at 3000 cases,” she said.

“From that one person — 38 days, 3000 cases. Sadly, 13 people have died just from that one cluster.

“We have to get this right.”

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