Two COVID-19 aid payments will be reinstated to ensure that Australians who contract the virus and are unable to work are financially protected.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met with state and area leaders during the national cabinet on Saturday and the group decided to reinstate pandemic leave payments until September 30.
The payments will support workers, especially temporary workers who are not on sick leave, to receive a $750 payment while isolating themselves with COVID-19 to subsidize loss of income.
States and territories also share costs 50-50 with the federal government.
“I want to make sure that people are not left behind, that vulnerable people are taken care of and that no one is faced with the unenviable choice of not being able to isolate themselves properly without losing income and without loss in a situation that is difficult,” Albanian said.
“We will reverse the decision we inherited from the former government to reintroduce this payment.”
Albanian also announced that crisis payments will be restored during the national health crisis until September 30.
This is a one-time payment for Australians who are also receiving support payments, scholarships or are in serious financial difficulties.
Albanian said the recovery of aid payments is expected to cost about $780 million to split with states and territories.
Payments will be available from Wednesday morning and eligible Australians can apply online through Services Australia.
He warned that the number of COVID-19 cases is expected to peak in August, which is why support payments will continue until the end of September.
In addition, leaders agreed that the Commonwealth would introduce a new telehealth option to assess Australians with COVID-19 for eligibility for antiviral treatments.
“We want to ensure that antivirals can be administered where necessary and to do that, this temporary telehealth facility is suitable,” Albanian said.
Albanian added states and territories will work to introduce consistent health messages around wearing masks indoors, testing and working from home.
“There will be less spread if people take action,” Albanian said.
“If more people wear face masks, if more people are vaccinated, if people take more action.
“We will encourage people to follow health advice and take precautions.”
Albanian was asked if the isolation requirements would be changed from seven days for COVID-positive people, he replied that “now is not the time”.
“Now is not the time to change the advice, but that is something that will continue to be monitored and will come from the health experts and people will listen to that,” he said.
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