States eye path out of COVID-19 lockdown

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham says he expects the need for federal COVID-19 support payments to be wound back by the end of the year.

Senator Birmingham said the eventual scaling back of the financial support measures would come after virus-affected states eased their restrictions.

“As we hope to reach at the end of the year the states, particularly NSW and Victoria, coming out of lockdown, then the need for that type of support diminishes,” he told Sky News.

“We need to ensure we continue to deliver an economic plan for growth to get back on a more stable footing.”

It comes as Victoria is set to outline the path out of lockdown next week, following virus modelling from the Burnet Institute.

ACT’s Chief Minister Andrew Barr will outline on Tuesday the territory’s gradual reopening plan, with Canberra now in its fifth week of lockdown.

However, Yass Valley Council in southern NSW will re-enter lockdown from Tuesday morning after a new COVID case was detected in the area, just days after the local government area relaxed its restrictions.

Yass Valley residents will go back into a two-week lockdown after a case was discovered on Monday.

Despite the lockdown’s reintroduction, NSW is on the threshold of being the first jurisdiction to reach 80 per cent of its residents aged over 16 receiving their first vaccine dose.

The latest federal data showed there were more than 133,000 vaccine doses distributed on Sunday.

More than two-thirds of Australians aged over 16 have received their first dose, while more than 42 per cent are now fully vaccinated.

Children over 12 are now also eligible to receive their COVID vaccine.

While the number of people receiving vaccines increased, Labor spokesman Bill Shorten said more efforts were needed to vaccinate those with a disability.

Mr Shorten called for federal outreach programs to ensure the vulnerable got access to a COVID-19 vaccine, before virus hotspots reopened.

“People are not getting their fair share of the vaccine,” Mr Shorten told ABC News.

“I’m concerned that people with a disability and with a low socio-economic background are now disproportionately under vaccinated.”

There were 1257 cases and seven deaths reported in NSW on Monday.

Victoria’s 473 infections was another outbreak-high tally, while Canberra recorded 13 new cases.

There were two new local cases linked to a Brisbane school.


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