Vaccine ramp up welcome but more support needed for lockdowns

The earlier arrival of millions more Pfizer doses, brought forward into late July and August, is a turning point in Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout but there is a need to deal with the level of support to business and workers who are in full lockdown.

“Earlier access to Pfizer doses and the bringing forward of the advertising campaign to encourage take up is great news for the country – it’s the vaccine rollout momentum we need at this crucial time,” acting CEO Jenny Lambert said.

“This week business met with Lt Gen Frewen and the Treasurer to discuss private sector engagement with the vaccine rollout. Given the change in supply, we will engage over the next few days with what further action can be taken and also seek a quick resolution to the barriers raised at the meeting, including concerns around liability and indemnity.

“We are encouraged by the acknowledgement today post-National Cabinet that vaccinated incoming travellers pose less risk. This creates opportunities for them to undertake different quarantine arrangements which ultimately enables more travellers.

“Notwithstanding this progress, as we are seeing in Sydney, these developments do not greatly impact the here and now. The lockdown in Sydney at the moment is devastating, and the sufficiency of the $500 per week needs to be urgently reviewed.

“It is essential we do not undo all the good work that JobKeeper did in keeping businesses and their employees afloat. During the lockdown phase of JobKeeper, the rate was higher and only went down to $500 per week in the phase where most businesses were able to trade out of the lockdown.

“We know that vaccination is the key to ending lockdowns, but it the meantime we need to deal with the financial and emotional toll that they impose by providing sufficient support to enable businesses and workers to cope.”

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