Australia Business calls for smarter lockdown rules
As COVID-19 cases multiply in Sydney, so do calls for tougher restrictions — but would they help?
Weeks into an extended city-wide lockdown, data shows public spaces are not the most dangerous transmission sites — the home is.Case numbers in Sydney, while not climbing, are stubbornly refusing to come down with not enough people already in isolation while they're infectious.
Business is calling for a smarter approach to tackling the coronavirus, rather than the current response which has seen half the population in lockdown with negative consequences for the national economy.
South Australia is set to end its restrictions on Tuesday night, while Victoria is yet to make a final decision as to whether it will do the same.
But NSW looks mired in lockdown beyond its scheduled ending on July 30, with daily new virus cases remaining well above 100 in recent days.
Will this really be Australia's last lockdown? Only if we reach the 'magic number'
With half of Australia lockdown, almost a year and a half after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say it all comes down to one unanswered question.The cancellation was a huge blow to the small theatre's financial and artistic future, but was also "soul destroying for the young artists that were involved", executive director Katy Green Loughrey said.
Research by consultants EY and commissioned by the Business Council of Australia shows these three lockdowns are costing the economy $2.8 billion per week and impacting 1.6 million workers.
The NSW lockdown alone accounts for nearly two thirds of this cost.
Furthermore, EY estimates that 100 days of lockdown restrictions at current levels would force the economy into reverse, taking it back to the lowest point of last year's recession.
The Business Council says given the highly infectious nature of the coronavirus Delta strain and the current state of vaccination rates, there needs to be a smarter approach to lockdowns.
"Nationally consistent approaches and predictability about how restrictions are triggered, enforced and ultimately lifted will improve confidence in the management of outbreaks, alleviating community and business confusion, uncertainty, and anxiety," the council's chief executive Jennifer Westacott says.
SA's COVID-19 lockdown will hit businesses hard, but the Premier is promising support
As South Australia prepares to plunge into its biggest lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are in limbo about what support they will receive to tide them over — but the SA Premier says he has already approached the Prime Minister.The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) described the restrictions imposed on South Australia as a "brutal" response — and that was before a full lockdown was announced this morning, to curb a growing cluster of Delta variant coronavirus cases linked to a man who attended Modbury Hospital.
Video: NSW cases still rising despite stay-at-home orders (ABC NEWS)
"We must accept there will be a cost in controlling the virus, but we can't sit back and watch all of the hard-won economic gains of the last 12 months unravel."
The council has released a set of guidelines it wants to see implemented.
These include consistent definitions to trigger lockdowns, which should be localised to affected areas, rather than shutting down the whole state.
At the same time, milestones around lockdown stages should be provided to remove the day-to-day guessing game around the rules and decisions.
It also calls for a roadmap to reopening the economy, which includes a role for business to speed up the national vaccine rollout.
"Lockdowns have enormous economic and social costs and should be a last resort," Ms Westacott said.
"But where they are used, we need to move from snap to smarter lockdowns."
As it is, consumer confidence has taken a major hit during the recent spate of lockdowns, a worry in the near-term for retailers who are still open.
The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index is released on Tuesday.
Last week the index tumbled 5.2 per cent, its sharpest weekly fall since March last year and during the early stages of the pandemic.
The latest survey was conducted at the weekend.
Queensland businesses given $5000 lockdown lifeline .
Queensland businesses struggling under the state's recent lockdown have been handed potential financial support lifeline from the state government in the form of $5000 lockdown grants. Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick today announced the $260 million support package that will be open to all businesses in the state regardless of whether they're in a lockdown location.Mr Dick said while the grants were aimed primarily at small and medium-sized Queensland businesses, large hospitality and tourism companies had also felt COVID-19's effect.