CANBERRA, AAP – Scott Morrison is preparing to step in and help support Sydney businesses crippled by lockdown as NSW reels from a growing number of coronavirus infections and restrictions.
The prime minister and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg held phone hook-ups with their NSW counterparts over the weekend.
Previously, the federal government took responsibility for individuals impacted by lockdown, while state governments stumped up for businesses.
The Commonwealth has provided disaster relief payments for people put out of work worth up to $500 a week.
But with no end in sight to the outbreak in Sydney, both tiers of government are recalibrating their approach.
Sydney cafes, bars and pubs have gone back to past lockdown routines, limiting their offerings to takeaway and delivery.
But small businesses have warned their reduced revenues are not enough to survive and they need much more support.
The Commonwealth is expected to announce further assistance for NSW businesses in conjunction with state supports, while also making payments for individuals and households more broad.
The package will be discussed by the federal government’s expenditure review committee on Monday.
The prime minister is also investigating what mental health supports will be required under any protracted lockdown in Sydney.
Meanwhile, the federal government has defended its ad campaign to urge people to get vaccinated against coronavirus.
One ad shows a series of bare arms with band-aids stuck on to signify they have had the jab.
Another more graphic ad is running in NSW, showing a young woman in hospital and struggling to breathe.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly acknowledged the ad was deliberately graphic to hammer the health messaging home.
“We are only doing this because of the situation in Sydney,” Professor Kelly told reporters.
“The messages will be clear. Stay at home, get tested and book in for a vaccination.”
Public health expert Bill Bowtell has described the ad as insensitive and demanded it be taken down.
Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek criticised the decision to use a young woman sick with the virus, considering the age group is not yet eligible for vaccination.
Sydney residents are bracing for locally acquired coronavirus cases to surge past 100 on Monday after NSW Health added dozens more exposure sites.
The state recorded 77 new cases on Sunday, with 33 infectious people active while in the community.
NSW also recorded its first virus death during the latest outbreak, with a woman in her 90s dying in Liverpool Hospital.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned the situation will get worse before it gets better.