Support coming for lockdown-hit NSW firms

NSW is bracing for an escalation in the number of locally acquired COVID-19 cases, as the state government prepares a support package for lockdown-affected businesses.

Some 130 people have picked up the coronavirus locally since June 16, when the first case was reported at Bondi in Sydney’s east.

Tuesday marks the third full day of a two-week hard lockdown for the Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour regions.

Millions of people can only leave home for work that can’t be done at home, to shop for essentials, for exercise, to seek medical care and for caregiving or compassionate reasons.

The hospitality and tourism sectors are set to get financial support under a state government package to compensate for losses incurred during the school holidays under the lockdown.

Hundreds of millions of dollars will be provided to cover immediate losses and compensate restaurants and catering services stuck with perishable stock after the restrictions were announced, The Australian reported on Tuesday.

Tourism operators who lost bookings during the peak winter holiday period will also receive relief payments and the state’s Dine and Discover voucher program could be expanded to include takeaway and delivery services.

The package is expected to be announced as early as Tuesday.

Meanwhile, NSW recorded 18 local cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, which was a dip from the 30 cases uncovered a day earlier.

But Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday warned new case numbers may rise sharply as close contacts already in isolation test positive.

“We have to be prepared for the numbers to bounce around and we have to be prepared for the numbers to go up considerably,” she said.

The numbers aren’t likely to decline for at least another five days, Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant added.

The lockdown was announced on Saturday afternoon after infections started seeping out of Sydney’s east into other areas.

On Tuesday NSW Health issued alerts for another ten venues where COVID-19 positive people had visited including: Specsavers at Bondi Junction, McDonalds at Bondi Beach, Macquarie Bank in Sydney’s CBD, Domino’s Pizza Rose Bay, IGA Blaxland and the Meriton Suites Hotel at Mascot.

NSW Health has also alerted commuters on various Sydney trains and buses last week while Westfield Bondi Junction – the epicentre of the latest outbreak – remains of particular concern.

Those venues, plus scores more listed by NSW Health, have sent thousands of people into isolation.

More than 500 school students from South Coogee Public School are isolating after four of their classmates acquired the virus.

Another student, at Emanuel School in Randwick Sydney’s east, attended school whilst infectious.

On Monday evening, a positive case was also uncovered in the Rose Bay Secondary College community, with around 1300 students and teachers ordered to self-isolate until further notice.

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