SYDNEY — The major banks have announced measures for workers and businesses impacted by Sydney’s two-week city-wide coronavirus lockdown.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited on June 27 unveiled an extended support package for small business and home loan customers, offering short-term payment relief on asset finance or business loans, refunds on merchant terminal fees and the waiving of other fees.
It released a statement on the support package, explaining the eligibility and other criteria.
Commonwealth Bank has announced loan deferrals, fee refunds and fee waivers. National Australia Bank assured eligible retail customers they could access temporary reduced payment arrangements. Westpac also outlined support measures for customers in need of financial assistance, including reduced or deferred repayments and low-interest rate loans.
It is the city’s first lockdown without the JobKeeper program in place and comes in the final week of end-of-financial-year sales.
Up to AU$750 million ($568 million) of “carnage” could be inflicted on retailers alone, the National Retail Association said, while the Accommodation Association says the move has sent occupancy rates plummeting.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Business New South Wales and the Committee for Sydney are among those calling for support to quickly be made available.
Committee for Sydney tweeted “Given Australia will repeatedly experience lockdowns until everyone is vaccinated, fed govt needs a program to support business & individuals. This is happening because fed govt was slow to purchase vaccines. We need fed support to get through it.”
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian assured help was on the way for workers and businesses when she announced the lockdown on June 26 afternoon.
“Nobody should feel stressed or pressured to break any of the rules because of their financial situation,” the premier said.
AMP Capital economists have estimated the state will take an AU$2 billion ($1.5 billion) hit to economic activity during the lockdown as the restricted area covers about 6.6 million people generating around 25 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
The premier reminded people the federal government Covid-19 disaster payment of AU$500 ($379.02) will kick in on July 1 for anyone in the City of Sydney, Waverley, Randwick, Canada Bay, Inner West, Bayside and Woollahra areas who have lost at least 20 hours or more of work. For workers who have lost less than 20 hours of work, the weekly lump sum payment is AU$325 ($246.37).
The federal government created two new payment support schemes to aid those affected by state and territory government decisions relating to Covid-19. They are the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment and the Covid-19 Disaster Payment.
(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Praveen Pramod Tewari)
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