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Sydney lockdown: Workers unable to claim COVID payments

·3-min read
Australian cash on leather handbag, person wearing mask while walking in Sydney's Circular Quay precinct.
Here's why Sydneysiders can't claim disaster payments yet, and how to claim other support. (Images: Getty).

Large swathes of Sydney will enter a seven-day lockdown from midnight on Friday to curb the spread of the highly infectious COVID-19 Delta strain, however many will be unable to access financial support.

While residents of the four Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick and City of Sydney areas are permitted to leave home to work, hospitality businesses are unable to open for dine-in customers, potentially affecting workers’ hours.

"If you are a business in those four local government areas, unfortunately, unless you're providing essential food and services – that is, takeaway food and services or grocery services of that nature – we don't expect those businesses to remain open in the next week," Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Friday morning.

Under the current policy, Sydneysiders will be unable to access COVID-19 disaster payments unless the lockdown is extended beyond the first seven days.

The COVID-19 disaster payment was introduced during Melbourne’s recent lockdown and offers between $325 and $500 as a one-off payment to workers in declared hotspots.

The payments are available to workers who aren’t receiving other paid leave entitlements from their employers or other forms of income support from the government.

However, the payments don’t kick in until the affected worker has been unable to work for the eighth day in a row due to a lockdown.

Additionally, the payments are only valid for periods when the area is defined by the Federal Government as a hotspot. As it stands, the Government has described the four Sydney areas as a hotspot from Wednesday 23 June to Wednesday 30 June.

As the lockdown is set to last until at least midnight on Friday 2 July, the Government will also need to extend the hotspot category until at least Saturday for workers to be able to access payments.

Unions call for JobKeeper style payments

The lockdown has reignited union calls for a JobKeeper-style payment to be introduced to support workers affected by lockdowns.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) expressed concern over the one-week requirement to access the payments.

“The Federal Government’s emergency Covid payments are grossly insufficient. They make it look like the Morrison Government is helping, when in reality these payments are below the poverty line, inaccessible during one-week lockdowns and don’t give workers job security,” ACTU secretary Sally McManus said.

“The Morrison Government must bring in JobKeeper 2 and give workers and businesses security not just to survive, but to keep the economic recovery rolling.”

What support is available for Sydney residents in lockdown?

If you’re a worker without access to paid leave, a salary or other forms of income support who needs to self-isolate, quarantine or care for someone with COVID-19, you could be eligible for other payments.

This includes the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment. This is a lump sum payment designed to help people who are unable to work for 14 days.

In order to access this payment, you need to have been directed by NSW Health to self-isolate or quarantine. You also must be an adult and an Australian resident or hold the right to work in Australia.

Additionally, you must be unable to work during your 14 days of isolation and have no other paid leave entitlements.

If you meet these criteria, you’re eligible for a $1,500 payment for each 14 days you need to stay at home. You can claim this payment here.

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Image: Yahoo Finance
Image: Yahoo Finance
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