DIGEST

The Informer: New support package has been announced for businesses in lockdown

COVID support back on the table

From financial rescue packages to a possible extension of Sydney's latest lockdown to more exposure sites and, sadly, another death, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was 2020 and not 2021.

And as ever, the over-arching question is "what have we learned?"

This afternoon Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a new support package would be available to "any states or territories in an extended lockdown". New South Wales will be the first state entitled to that package - a fact which has pleased few Victorians who endured a near four-month stint in lockdown last year.

For those in a Commonwealth-declared hot spot, the COVID-19 Disaster Payment will increase to $600 if a person has lost 20 or more hours of work a week or $375 if a person has lost between eight and less than 20 hours of work a week, he said.

Businesses with an annual turnover between $75,000 and $50 million who can demonstrate a 30 per cent decline in turnover also will be eligible for support.

Mr Morrison said the federal government would also add more than $12 million for mental health support operators including Lifeline and Kids' Help Line.

"It's not just about getting through this economically; it's about getting people through in a sound state of mind," he said.

Full details of the PM's announcement can be found here.

Meanwhile the trip two removalists took from western Sydney to Adelaide has had ramifications across a swathe of regional centres.

Three places in Victoria have been declared tier one hot spots with one apartment block locked down for a fortnight as residents quarantine. A service station in regional South Australia was impacted . And, the contact tracing goes on.

Meanwhile as debate rages as to Australia's strategic approach to dealing with outbreaks continues, it's a very different scenario elsewhere.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has conceded coronavirus restrictions were lifted too soon in the Netherlands, and has apologised as infections surged to their highest levels of the year.

In the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has opted for a similar cautious tone before nearly all remaining COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in England next week. What was once billed as "freedom day" is now being treated with wariness.

"We think now is the right moment to proceed... but it is absolutely vital that we proceed now with caution and I cannot say this powerfully or emphatically enough - this pandemic is not over," Mr Johnson said.

And given the hoo-ha about Australia's latest vaccination ad campaign, particularly the Sydney-specific version, check out this one from a beer company.

Heineken has copped all sorts of grief for dipping its toe in the pro-vaccination camp. The #BoycottHeineken hashtag took off on Twitter as people condemned the beer giant promoting a public health message.

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