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‘I APOLOGISE’: Berejiklian sorry for late COVID-19 cash

The normally busy High Street is seen near empty in Penrith on August 09, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian appears at press conference.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has apologised for delays in processing COVID-19 payments. (Images: Getty).

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has apologised for delays in processing COVID-19 support payments, as large portions of the state remain in lockdown.

While calling for Greater Sydney and residents of surrounding areas to follow the lockdown restrictions, the Premier said the government had attempted to put the economic, health and mental health needs of the population first, but had fallen short in some regards.

“There are thousands and thousands of applications [Service NSW has] processed and will continue to process,” Berejiklian said.

“I apologise to those people and businesses who have experienced some delay. I really do. Because I can only imagine how stressful it would be to await a payment which you're relying on to keep your business going but please know that relief is there.”

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More than 150,000 applications for business support payments are still awaiting approval, after seven weeks in lockdown.

However, those payments should be processed by the end of next week, with the majority of Service NSW’s energy now focused on the task, she said.

“Can I also stress that obviously 80 to 90 per cent of applications are quite standard but 10 per cent of applications require a lot more work. So we're obviously getting through that,” she said.

Around $365 million in payments has been delivered to businesses, as of Monday morning.

What NSW businesses can apply for support?

NSW businesses with turnovers between $75,000 and $250 million are eligible for between $1,500 and $100,000 in weekly support payments, provided they have experienced a dip in revenue of at least 30 per cent, and they maintain their employee headcount.

Sole traders are eligible for $1,000 weekly payments. This business support package is estimated to cost $750 million a week, with some 460,000 businesses eligible for the payments.

Berejiklian’s apology comes as the state records 344 new cases of COVID-19 in the community, the second-worst day for new infections.

The economic impact of Sydney’s lockdown is estimated to cost $1 billion per week, with economists now concerned the prolonged restrictions could trigger Australia’s second recession in as many years.

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