Australia to introduce pandemic leave payment, says PM Morrison

SYDNEY (CNA) – Australia will introduce a pandemic leave payment for workers who have run out of sick leave but need to be quarantined because they have been directed to stay at home due to the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday.

The announcement comes as the country deals with a second wave of infections, and its second most populous state, Victoria, closes retail shops, limits construction projects and curtails manufacturing activity to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The payment will be a AUD1,500 for a two-week pandemic leave period.

According to ABC News, the payment will be available to workers in Victoria who need to self-isolate for 14 days but do not have sick leave or payments. The payment is linked to the state of disaster in Victoria, but could be extended to other states and territories if similar situations occur there.

If required, workers will be able to apply for the payment multiple times, ABC News added.

Australia’s second-biggest city Melbourne, already under night curfew, announced fresh restrictions for industries yesterday as part of a six-week lockdown which is expected to hit 250,000 jobs, roughly the number already impacted.

The state of Victoria declared a state of disaster on Sunday due to a surge in community transmissions.

Elsewhere in Australia, other states and territories have for weeks reported zero or a small number of cases while relaxing restrictions. They have, however, banned visitors from Victoria and Sydney

Australia has logged 18,361 coronavirus cases and 221 deaths so far – however, it risks losing control in Victoria, which reported 429 new cases yesterday, down from 671 new infections on Sunday, but 13 more deaths was the second-highest daily death toll.

A man wearing a face mask in Melbourne. Australia’s hard-hit Victoria state was declared a disaster with sweeping new coronavirus restrictions imposed across Melbourne and elsewhere from Sunday night. PHOTO: AP