Millions of Sydney, Wollongong, Blue Mountains and Central Coast residents can now claim payments of up to $500 as large chunks of the state remain in lockdown.
People living in Sydney entered lockdown at 6pm on Saturday, forcing restaurants, cafes and other businesses to shut their doors.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there was no reason for anyone to be “stressed” about money, as she flagged support for businesses.
Individuals affected by the lockdowns can already claim the $1,500 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments if they have been required to isolate for 14 days due to COVID exposure or a positive test.
Also read: Major JobSeeker change for Sydneysiders
However, this only kicks in if the individual doesn’t have access to paid leave or other Government income support payments.
How do I access the $500 COVID lockdown payments?
When can I access them?
Sydneysiders will be able to access the payments from Thursday 1 July, Government Services Minister Linda Reynolds confirmed on Friday.
The payments, first announced during the Melbourne lockdown earlier this year, kick in once a region has been defined as a COVID hotspot by the federal Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly for at least seven days.
In order to access them, you need to have lost income for at least seven days due to COVID health restrictions.
Who can access the COVID payments?
You can access the payments if you reside in a Commonwealth defined hotspots. This includes the City of Sydney, Waverley, Woollahra, the Inner West, Randwick, Canada Bay and Bayside.
And as of Saturday, it also includes Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong.
You also need to be an Australian resident or hold a working visa.
Crucially, the payment is also only available if you don’t have access to paid leave and have lost income as of the eighth day of the lockdown.
You also need to be over the age of 17 and have less than $10,000 in savings. And you can’t be in receipt of other government income support payments, including the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.
If you receive JobSeeker but also work casually and have had your hours cut, you will miss out on this payment.
How much can I get?
If you normally work fewer than 20 hours of work a week, you’re eligible for $325 for each week of lockdown.
If you’ve lost more than 20 hours, you’re eligible for $500.
And if you’re a member of a couple, you can both access the payment.
How do I access them?
To access the payment, you'll need to have a Centrelink account linked to your myGov account. You use your myGov account to access your tax statements, so many working Australians will already have one.
However, if you don't, setting a myGov account up is simple.
Once your myGov and Centrelink accounts are set up, you'll be asked questions to check your eligibility. These will include questions around whether you are affected by the lockdowns, and your income status.
After this, you can hit 'submit' and Centrelink will assess your claim. You will receive an SMS once your claim has been successfully submitted, and if your claim is successful you will receive the money into your bank account, and you will receive a letter with the details of the payment.
Those with working visas will likely apply through Services Australia by calling 180 22 66.
If English isn't your first language, Services Australia also offers a Multilingual Phone Service on 131 202.
If the lockdown extends beyond one week, you’ll need to reapply for the payment.