Victoria has reported 41 new cases of COVID-19 and seven further deaths as the state remains on track to ease lockdown restrictions.
The Victorian government has unveiled a new $3 billion business support package to assist local businesses, as Metropolitan Melbourne prepares to changes to its coronavirus lockdown from midnight tonight.
The figures take the state’s death toll to 723 and the national count to 810 since the start of the pandemic.
#COVID19VicData for 13 September, 2020.Yesterday there were 41 new cases reported and 7 lives lost. Our thoughts go out to all those affected.More information will be available later today. pic.twitter.com/xylZ2wnfcp
Premier Daniel Andrews said the figures were encouraging and aided the state’s plan to ease lockdown restrictions, but he refused to rush the process.
« I can announce that we have extended the state of emergency and the state of disaster for a further four weeks, » he said.
As that occurs, Victoria’s government will introduce the state’s largest-ever economic relief package to assist struggling businesses on the road out of lockdown.
« No-one is enjoying the reality we face, but none of us have the option of ignoring the reality that we face. »
Treasurer Tim Pallas said there will be payroll tax deferrals for up to 12 months for businesses with payroll of up to $10 million a year which will come at a cost of some $1.7 billion to the state.
« Our priority as we move towards not only dealing with the insidious impacts that the virus has upon community health, (is) also recognising that the restrictions that are in place are having a profound impact upon our economy, » Mr Pallas told reporters.
Mr Pallas said $1.1 billion in cash grants will be provided to small and medium-sized businesses “most affected” by the lockdown, while $20,000 grants will also be offered to businesses in alpine resorts.
An additional $137 million in tax relief will be given on top of an existing $1.5 billion relief program.
Stamp duty on commercial and industrial properties in Regional Victoria will be slashed by 50 per cent.
Mr Pallas said $44 million will also be provided to assist businesses to adapt to COVID-safe regulations as the state re-opens.
“We know that we have to fight the virus first because we can’t get the economy operating in an effective way, without the confidence that the community has to be able to move in a COVID-safe,” he said.
Melburnians are also set to receive some relief from Monday, with the reduction in hours of the daily curfew, to 9pm to 5am and the allowance of ‘household bubbles’, providing company for those who live alone.
Victoria’s two weeks of low infection rates has prompted Mr Andrews to indicate the possibility that regional Victoria could jump two steps out of lockdown by mid-next week.
This will mean, among other things, that regional residents would very soon be able to go out for a coffee or meal.
The premier cautioned it is « highly unlikely » the state will meet the requirements to enter step three of the lockdown before 26 October, which would allow hairdressers and outdoor dining to re-open.
Victoria needs to record a 14-day average of five cases a day to lift the curfew and remove restrictions on leaving home.
You have got to do this not just safely, following advice, taking advice, but you’ve got to do it in a steady way.”
Meanwhile, the strain of lockdown on young Victorians is visible in hospital and mental health helpline statistics when compared to the same period in 2019.
Young people presenting to emergency for intentional self-harm and suicidal ideation is higher than the same period last year by 27 per cent.
Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline crisis support on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged 5 to 25). More information is available at Beyond Blue.org.au and lifeline.org.au
Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 8pm and 5am. During the curfew, people in Melbourne can only leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons.
Between 5am and 8pm, people in Melbourne can leave the home for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative. The full list of restrictions can be found here.
All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus
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