The NSW government has announced a $1 billion support package for businesses hit by the Omicron outbreak as the state records its deadliest day of the pandemic so far.
There were 52 deaths and 13,524 new positive COVID-19 tests reported in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the government had the back of every business and worker in the state.
“No other jurisdiction, no other state to date has provided financial support except NSW because that is the NSW way,” Mr Perrottet told reporters on Sunday.
The package includes a payment of up to $5000 per week, or 20 per cent of payroll, for businesses with a turnover between $75,000 and $50 million who suffered a 40 per cent downturn in January, and project to do the same in February.
NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said small businesses with face-to-face trading like hairdressing salons and hospitality venues had endured a difficult summer so far.
Getting to ‘the other side’
“When we get out of this wave we expect a snapback and that the economy will bounce back better on the other side of this,” Mr Kean said.
“This is about facilitating small businesses to get through to the other side so that we can bounce back better.”
The treasurer said he was “disappointed” the package was funded by the state as he was hoping to make the announcement alongside the prime minister and federal treasurer but they weren’t “to be found”.
“Rather than the commonwealth government stepping aside we expect them to step up as well,” he said.
The government has extended the Small Business Fees and Charges rebate program to $3000, which can include 50 per cent of the costs incurred to get rapid antigen tests for the workplace.
Relief for commercial landlords has also been extended until March 13.
Daniel Hunter, the CEO of advocacy body Business NSW, said the package would help keep the doors open for many businesses.
“What’s crucial now is that customers have the confidence to return to businesses and do their shopping in a safe manner,” he said.
There are currently 2663 people hospitalised with the virus, 182 of whom are in intensive care.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said 31 of the 52 deaths were in aged care facilities.
She reminded COVID-positive people that they are able to leave isolation after seven days if they do not have symptoms, but to avoid aged care facilities and other high-risk settings for the following three days.
Around 95.4 per cent of the state’s adult population has now had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine with 94 per cent of those aged 16 and over double-dosed.