CANBERRA, AAP – Families locked down across greater Sydney will receive childcare fee relief to encourage parents to keep their kids at home.

From Monday, the federal government says it will support childcare centres to waive gap fees if children don’t attend.

The fee is the difference between the government’s childcare subsidy and the remaining cost paid by parents.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the opt-in measure could benefit around 216,000 families across 3600 centres in greater Sydney.

“If your child doesn’t go to the childcare facility for a particular day during this lockdown, then you wont be charged a gap fee,” he told ABC radio on Thursday.

“The centre will continue to be supported and you won’t lose your places in those childcare centres.”

Greater Sydney’s lockdown has been extended until at least July 30, as the city struggles to control the spread of COVID-19 particularly in the southwest.

Mr Morrison defended the fact childcare centres won’t be forced to waive the fee, saying the voluntary measure had worked in previous lockdowns.

“The families and the centres know each other very well and they’ll come to those arrangements, and that’s proved to be the most effective and flexible way to deal with the challenge,” he said.