Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced new $1,500 payments for Victorians affected by coronavirus in a bid to stop sick and infectious people from heading into work.
Also read: Is this the end of the sick note?
The premier announced the payments as the state battles its highest coronavirus case numbers in more than two months. The state has recorded 25 new cases.
As part of a Hardship Fund, $1,500 payments will be delivered to confirmed cases and those who are close contacts who can’t rely on sick leave.
“This is about making sure there’s no financial reason for these people not to isolate and to go to work themselves,” Andrews said in a statement on Saturday.
"It is, I think, clear that there are some people in the community that perhaps don't have access to sick leave, for instance," Andrews said.
"Their employment may well be tenuous.”
He said the government has to try to remove the barrier which incentivises working while sick, over staying home.
“People are, sadly, making the choice that public health is less important than the welfare and survival, in a financial sense, of their family,” the premier said.
"They're wrong to make that judgement but I can appreciate that that is a judgement that is being made."
He said workers who can work from home must do so until the end of July, and businesses need to have a “zero-tolerance approach to sickness”. This is effectively a month-long extension of this mandate.
“Having symptoms must mean you go home, and you get tested.”
The premier recently announced fines of $10,000 for businesses that compel workers to come into the office when they can work from home.
False start for 50 patron rule
The state will also reduce the number of visitors Victorians can have at their homes to five, and groups of 10 can meet up outside of home.
Restaurants, cafes, pubs libraries, museums and places of worship will maintain the 20-person limit until 12 July. And while gyms, cinemas, theatres and TABs can still open on Monday, they will only be able to do so with 20 people.
Restaurants had been preparing to increase limits to 50 patrons as of Monday, but will now be forced to comply with the 20-person rule for at least another three weeks.
Andrews said there is “no plan B”, and that the only other pathway is to see an exponential increase in cases if the state doesn’t turn the numbers around now.
“A second wave will be absolutely catastrophic to our economy.”