Melbourne workers eligible for new COVID-19 disaster payments

Announcement comes as two 'fleeting' cases are found false positives

Melbourne workers eligible for new COVID-19 disaster payments

Melbourne workers who lost their jobs due to the lockdown extension will be eligible for up to $500 in payout as part of the federal government’s financial support package, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced.

Morrison said on Thursday that the “temporary COVID disaster payment” would also be made available to other states declared a commonwealth hotspot if lockdowns exceed seven days.

Employees whose shifts last more than 20 hours a week will receive a weekly payment of $500, while those who work fewer hours will receive $325.

To be eligible, a person must be above 17 years old, was working before the lockdown, and has less than $10,000 in savings. They must also have used up all available leaves, including annual, sick, and pandemic leaves, if their employers offer them.

Workers already receiving other types of income or business support from the government, including JobSeeker, will not be eligible for the payment.

Regional Victorians will also not be able to access the support package as the lockdown in their area lasted only for one week.

Applications for Melbourne employees will open on Tuesday and can be accessed through Services Australia.

Details on how the new disaster payment will be funded was discussed by state and territory leaders on Friday’s national cabinet meeting.

“Fleeting” cases declared false positives

The prime minister’s announcement of the new financial support scheme comes as Victoria’s health department revealed that two of the state’s suspected “fleeting” coronavirus transmission cases were reclassified as false positives.

Health authorities said that an expert panel review confirmed that a woman who visited a Metricon display home and a man who came from Brighton Beach Hotel, both initially thought to have contracted COVID-19 in those places, were not infected.

“These cases will be reclassified and no longer considered confirmed cases,” the department said in a statement. “Primary close contacts who are linked only to these cases and not to other exposure sites will be released. Any exposure sites linked only to these cases will be stood down, including every exposure site in Anglesea.”

The Metricon display home and Brighton Beach Hotel, however, will remain exposure sites as they are linked to other coronavirus cases.

The health department also said that individuals need to wait for formal clearance before they can leave isolation, adding that the cases were listed “out of an abundance of caution.”

“Moving fast and early to contain and isolate a positive case and test and trace their contacts is a fundamental part of Victoria's COVID-19 response,” the department said. “Out of an abundance of caution, the department will always enact immediate public health measures in response to the notification of any positive case. Cases continue to be reviewed as further information comes to hand.”

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