COVID disaster payments to end when full vaccination reaches 80 per cent

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Credit: Julian Meehan.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced the COVID-19 disaster payment scheme for workers who have lost income will end, state by state, when a full vaccination rate of 80 per cent is reached, regardless of lockdowns.

At the 70 per cent double dose mark, the payment will also stop being renewed automatically, and workers living in commonwealth-declared hotspots will need to reconfirm their eligibility to reapply.

Once a state or territory reaches 80 per cent full vaccination, the payment will drop over two weeks before ending, and no new applications will be allowed, even if an area goes back into lockdown.

Victoria is expected to reach 70 per cent vaccination by the end of October, an 80 per cent in early November.

Since June the disaster payments have provided weekly payments of up to $600 for those living in commonwealth-declared hotspots who’ve been stood down or lost 20 hours or more of work due to lockdowns. 2.16 million Australians have successfully applied for the disaster payments, which has totalled $9 billion.

The commonwealth declares an area a hotspot based on case numbers and threat, not based on lockdowns or restrictions implemented by the state governments.

“As I have said before we can’t eliminate the virus, we need to learn to live with it in a COVID-safe way. This means we must ease restrictions as vaccination rates hit 70-80 per cent in accordance with the plan agreed at national cabinet,” Mr Frydenberg said in a statement.

“As restrictions ease the economy is well-positioned to bounce back. Today’s announcement about the winding down of the COVID disaster payment will provide businesses and households with the certainty they need to plan for the future.”