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Govt weighs up more income support during Victoria's virus "war"

National

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has declared Victoria is at war as the federal government weighs up extra economic support to guide the state through its supercharged lockdown.

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Extending eligibility for JobKeeper wage subsidies and introducing paid pandemic leave are being considered after the state spent its first night under curfew.

Frydenberg said JobKeeper in its current form would continue until the end of September, which is later than lockdown is slated to last.

“We are at war. Every Victorian is on the front line. Everyone has a role to play,” he told the ABC on Monday.

“We can’t afford any holes in our defences.”

The treasurer noted some major employers had already introduced pandemic leave, while the state government also provides support for people needing to isolate.

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter is consulting with unions and business groups to see if more needs to be done.

Victoria is in a state of disaster with tough new restrictions as coronavirus infections and deaths continue to surge.

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce further measures curtailing business activity on Monday.

Frydenberg said the impact on Australia’s economy would be greater than the $3.3 billion Treasury estimated the initial six-week lockdown would cost.

“Victoria is a quarter of the national economy,” he said.

“This is a real kick in the guts to Victorian businesses, which will have an impact on employment.”

The state recorded a further 671 cases on Sunday, with seven more deaths taking the national toll to 208.

Under the new measures, one person from every household will be allowed to shop once a day.

Exercise will be limited to one hour a day and like shopping, must be within five kilometres of households.

Police, who have been armed with extraordinary state of disaster powers, will enforce a curfew between 8pm and 5am during the six-week lockdown.

Meanwhile, the NSW government is strongly recommending people wear masks in high-risk situations.

Public-facing workers, worshippers, people living near community clusters and those in enclosed spaces, such as on public transport or in grocery shops, should wear face masks.

-AAP

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