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Victoria stimulus to bust Omicron economy ‘fog’

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The Victorian government has announced a $200 million stimulus package to support the state’s economic recovery as the Omicron COVID-19 wave eases.

Minister for Industry Support and Recovery Martin Pakula on Monday announced the funding, which includes voucher schemes to entice people to spend on dining, entertainment and travel within the state.

“We think this is the best way to target support,” he told reporters.

“We think what business needs is customers back, money in the hands of customers so that they can come and spend, enjoy and bring our city back to life.”

About $100 million will be spend to provide Victorians with rebates for travel, entertainment and dining in in the state.

This will include $30 million for a new Victorian Travel Voucher Scheme to encourage more people to holiday in the state.

The Melbourne Money scheme will be brought back, with $10 million to entice diners back into the city’s bars, cafes and restaurants by reimbursing part of their bill.

Mr Pakula hopes the Melbourne Money scheme vouchers will be made available online from mid-March.

A new $30 million program will provide rebates on food, wine and experiences in regional parts of Victoria, while another $30 million will be put into providing rebates for tickets to theatre, live music, cinemas, museums, galleries and other events.

Businesses will be given $60 million to purchase equipment to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and improve customer confidence, with rebates of up to $5000 available, as well as $500 vouchers.

Another $34.2 million will be used to place workers in more than 1500 jobs across hospitality, warehousing, logistics, tourism and food processing.

The Small Business Digital Adaptation Program will be extended, with $5 million to be spent to provide rebates of up to $1200.

Victoria recorded another 5611 COVID-19 cases and three deaths on Monday, including 4104 from rapid antigen tests and 1507 from PCRs.

There are 45,278 active cases in Victoria, down more than 1400 from Sunday.

A total of 361 patients are in hospital, three more than the previous day, with 49 in ICU and 11 requiring ventilation.

Meanwhile, delays are continuing to plague Ambulance Victoria.

A 74-year-old Rowville man collapsed from severe COVID-19 symptoms on January 30 and waited almost six hours for paramedics to arrive, the Herald Sun reported.

An Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman said it would reach out to the family to understand their concerns and will review the case to help better understand what happened and why.

Victoria welcomed its first international tourists in two years as a flight from Singapore landed at Melbourne Airport about 8.30am on Monday.

Flights from Phuket, Auckland, Delhi, Doha, London, Dubai and Tokyo are due to land throughout the day.

Melbourne Airport chief executive Lorie Argus said the arrivals marked a “critical turning point for aviation”.

She called for the federal government to scrap all pre-departure testing requirements for fully-vaccinated international arrivals, to ensure the travel experience is “as simple and stress-free as possible”.

The arrivals also signal the first day of operation for the state’s new $200 million COVID-19 quarantine hub, which will welcome its first cohort of unvaccinated international travellers on Monday.

About 55 per cent of Victorian adults have received three vaccine doses.

– AAP

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