LOCKDOWN EXTENSION: COMPREHENSIVE PACKAGE NEEDED FOR BUSINESSES AND WORKERS IN NSW
A third week of lockdown is not what anyone in the community wanted, but the health advice indicates this is what is needed to break the transmission of the COVID-19 delta strain.
We know that families and businesses have already done so much during the first two weeks of lockdown, there has been much sacrifice and frustration.
Next week will be tough for hundreds of thousands of parents and teachers with children at home and online learning.
NSW Labor supports the Government’s decision in acting on the health advice and extending the lockdown.
But we need to remember that there has already been a high cost for livelihoods and for thousands of businesses right across the NSW economy.
It is clear that the NSW Government’s support for business and workers has not been good enough. Certainty for business requires the NSW Government to provide further support.
-Thousands of frontline workers in NSW – the heroes of the COVID pandemic – are still not vaccinated.
-Small and medium-sized businesses have been hit hard in Greater Sydney and NSW by the lockdown.
-Tourism, hospitality and other businesses right across NSW need financial support now – to retain their workers, to compensate for lost business, to pay the rent and keep the lights on.
The Premier now needs to outline a comprehensive package of measures to support small businesses and workers across NSW.
The NSW Government should be considering:
· The existing support for businesses must to be extended. The previous package was for two weeks, the extra week of lockdown will bring tremendous hardship for workers and businesses and so extending support for small businesses is critical. This applies to businesses outside the lockdown regions who have been impacted.
· There needs to be a clear roadmap for businesses and families to ensure there’s a focus on rolling out the COVID vaccine from GPs, pharmacies and in workplace – so we can work towards being COVID safe and can avoid the need for future lockdowns.
· Despite the lockdown being extended, casual workers who have lost all their hours will receive no further help to make ends meet, leaving hundreds of thousands of people at risk. The NSW Government must work with the Commonwealth Government to extend support for workers and offer further payments to those who have lost jobs or lost hours.
· The NSW Government as the state’s largest employer needs to roll-out paid COVID vaccination leave now for its workforce and frontline workers. That is an example that other large employers in NSW can then follow.
A comprehensive package of support measures for businesses and workers from the NSW Government right now will get the support of NSW Labor.
We are all in this together and as difficult as a third week of lockdown will be for workers, families and businesses, it will be worth it to get through the latest COVID breakout.