Australia

More support for Victorian businesses hit by lockdown as 22 new local coronavirus cases recorded

Victoria has recorded 22 new local coronavirus cases as the state government announced an additional $282.5 million in grants to help 90,000 businesses hit hard by the extended lockdown.

The new infections are linked to the current outbreaks, which originated in NSW and now total 107 cases.

A new case was also recorded in hotel quarantine, bringing the total number of active cases in the state to 118.

Some 59,355 tests were processed in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning, while 18,099 Victorians received a vaccine dose at one of the state-run hubs.

Of the 22 new cases, 16 were in isolation throughout their infectious period.

Health Minister Martin Foley said the remaining six cases do not have many exposure sites and pose a “reasonably low” risk to the community.

“That should give us confidence that this is a process that is working, and it is working because millions of Victorians (are) … doing the right thing,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the spike in new infections may look concerning but the fact so many people were self-isolating was a “really good sign” the state was getting ahead of the outbreak.

“That’s changed dramatically in the last couple of days. I expect it to be improving over time,” he said.

“It may even be that within a couple of days, we don’t see anyone who has been out in the community for any of their infectious period.”

Victoria’s lockdown was extended on Tuesday until least 11.59pm on 27 July, while permits to enter Victoria from a red zone have been suspended for two weeks.

The Victorian government will offer an additional $282.5 million in grants to help 90,000 businesses hit hard by the extended lockdown.

Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund grants will be increased from $3,000 to $7,200, while the state’s Business Costs Assistance Program increases from $2,000 to $4,800.

Businesses and sole traders that received support during the fourth lockdown last month will automatically receive the funds to their chosen bank account.

Those who did apply last month, or who had been ineligible or has since become eligible, will be able to apply for a grant online.

Businesses in Victoria’s alpine region, the public events industry and community sporting clubs are also eligible for additional grants.

Industry Recovery and Support Minister Martin Pakula said the Victorian government has provided almost $7 billion in economic support for businesses throughout the pandemic.

“Both the health minister and I are profoundly hopeful that we don’t have to go through this again, but we recognise that this is a very dynamic environment,” he said.

The federal and state governments are jointly funding income support for Victorians who have lost work or income due to the lockdown, the state’s fifth.

Four new tier-two exposure sites were added overnight in Richmond, bringing the total number of sites to more than 350, while more than 18,000 primary close contacts, including two apartment blocks, are self-isolating.

A full list of Victorian exposure sites can be found here.  

Meanwhile, Queensland recorded no new local cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, after recording one new case on Monday in a woman who had visited an exposure site in Melbourne.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the woman had been fully vaccinated, and that she had initially received a negative result.

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