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Victoria recorded no new local coronavirus cases on Friday from 24,726 tests.
Victorians planning to holiday in Queensland received mixed news on Friday morning as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a partial lifting of the state’s lockdown.
Brisbane City and Moreton council areas will remain locked down for an extra 24 hours, until 6pm Saturday, while other locked down parts of the state will be freed at 6pm Friday.
Ms Palaszczuk announced that the lockdown would end in a range of council areas including Noosa, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Logan, Redlands, Lockyer Valley, Somerset and Townsville.
But some restrictions in those areas will continue, such as mask wearing.
“This is our added protection at the moment until everyone gets their vaccine,” the Premier said.
There were three locally acquired cases recorded in Queensland on Friday.
It comes as more than half of all Victorian businesses who have applied for a government lifeline are yet to be paid a dollar in the latest round of recovery support.
The Herald Sun can reveal more than 63,000 businesses are waiting more than a month after dedicated support packages were announced to help businesses through the state’s fourth lockdown.
Businesses have been notified of delays, sparking calls for an automated system to immediately direct grants to affected businesses in the event of further lockdowns.
Of the 113,000 applications for support under the government’s business costs assistance program, 58,000 payments have been made totalling $271.5m.
More than one in 10 of all applicants of the licensed hospitality venues fund had been paid, with 8423 of 9500 applicants waiting for a resolution.
A Berwick cafe owner, who asked not to be named, was told to expect payment on Friday, a month after he was among the first to apply for a grant under the fund.
“I am really grateful for it, and don’t want to be seen as whingeing, but when you offer support like this you need to make sure there are processes in place to make sure it can happen,” he said.
A government spokeswoman said about 10,000 payments were scheduled to be made overnight.
He said on average payments were being made within 10 business days, and businesses were notified of delays.
Outcomes were often delayed by incorrect or incomplete information being provided on applications forms.
Small Business Australia executive director Bill Lang said businesses from a broad range of industries had reported waiting weeks for any payments to be made.
“For many of these hardworking mum and dad business owners, this was a double insult, not only was the promised grant disproportionately small compared to the losses suffered, they have now been asked to pay out costs for wages, rents and other liabilities, with all these outgoings paid with zero money coming in and not a cent received of the promised assistance,” Mr Lang said.
“From the beginning of this pandemic Small Business Australia has been calling for faster, fairer and direct support for business owners who are having their livelihoods turned off and on like a tap by the government and as we enter the era of the ‘preventive’ lockdown strategy, which will see business owners crushed by repeated lockdowns, the support offered to them must be substantial and immediate.”
Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive Wes Lambert said the organisation was able to help any businesses experiencing delays.
“All of our members in the industry that were eligible for the funding, the majority have taken it up, and it certainly has been a lifeline during the long lockdown,” Mr Lambert said.
“We hope that if and when there is a future lockdown, that the Victorian government will jump to another business support package.”
Victoria Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Paul Guerra said the payments were critical to businesses.
“For those businesses still waiting on an application, we expect to see assessment and payments made quickly because these support grants won’t do any good until they are paid,” Mr Guerra said.
“Support payments would not be required, and public debt would not be further incurred if we could avoid lockdowns and restrictions altogether and that’s the ambition we need to have going forward. No more lockdowns. We need an adequate vaccine supply rolled out and purpose-built quarantine facilities to enable Victoria to open up with confidence.”
BORDER CHECKS FLAG 17 TRAVELLERS
Warning notices have been handed to more than a dozen people trying to enter Victoria without a proper permit.
Covid-19 Response Commander Jeroen Weimar said more than 2000 people were stopped and checked on the NSW-Victoria border on Wednesday.
Of those, 17 people were issued with warning notices.
“It’s very important that we ensure that people are carrying the right documentation and returning, under the right principles, and they know what they need to do,” he said.
Of 130 checks of Victorians subject to stay-at-home isolation orders, two cases were referred for further action.
Mr Weimar said authorities were comfortable with compliance levels across a range of Covid-19 measures including businesses using QR code check in systems.
Darwin and Alice Springs, southeast Queensland and Townsville including Magnetic Island and Palm Island, Greater Sydney, Shellharbour, Central Coast, Wollongong, and Perth and Peel regions are now red zones under Victoria’s travel permit system.
Originally published as No new local cases, Qld holidays hang in balance