SYDNEY, AAP – The NSW building industry will be a “basket case” if the two week COVID lockdown is extended, a building union official says.
CFMEU state secretary Darren Greenfield says if the shutdown continues into August, scores of businesses won’t survive.
“If this goes past Friday week … businesses will start to collapse,” he told radio 2GB on Tuesday.
“Subcontractors cannot sustain a third or fourth week of this. Our industry will be a basket case,” he said.
Over the past 16 months all elements of the industry had worked together to put procedures in place to mitigate the virus and on Friday night “we were still told the industry would keep going”, he said.
However, on Saturday the industry was blindsided when Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the unprecedented shut down, costing the NSW economy at least $700 million per week and forcing 250,000 tradies to down tools.
“We were bloody angry on Saturday, so were our members and so was the industry,” Mr Greenfield said.
“Flicking a switch to turn it off the way it was done was atrocious,” he said.
On Monday NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said she did not advise the government to shut down the industry, insisting the decision was made by the crisis cabinet.
Meanwhile, the NSW premier admits “some level of restriction” will remain in place until the state’s vaccination rates reach an acceptable level.
A southwest Sydney woman in her 50s who died on Monday is the fifth in NSW since mid-June and the 61st recorded since the pandemic began last year.
The Green Valley woman was the mother of two removalists who travelled to central-west NSW while allegedly knowing they were COVID-19 positive. They have been handed court attendance notices for failing to comply with coronavirus directions.
Monday marked the first full day since harsh new restrictions were enforced on Greater Sydney.
And while Ms Berejiklian said the lockdown could only end when the number of cases infectious in the community nears zero, she admitted some restrictions will remain in place until vaccination rates are much higher.
This is because of the infectiousness of the Delta variant currently in the community.
About three in five NSW residents (57 per cent) aged over 50 have had their first vaccination dose, while just under one in five (18 per cent) have had both doses.
“Our population coverage – even for the over 60s – is not high enough and we have a good vaccine that can be used, where the risk of hospitalisation and death (from the virus) is very high as age increases,” Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said.
Dr Chant also said Australia needed to think about making vaccines available for children, particularly those of high school age, once older age groups are immunised.
NSW Health issued more than 20 alerts for venues and transport routes on Monday night, including a bottle shop at Coffs Harbour, with the north coastal town on alert after a COVID positive person visited numerous venues last week.
Meanwhile, Lifeline says calls to its free, 24-hour telephone crisis support service have spiked to 3000 a day since the lockdown began in Greater Sydney and surrounding regions more than three weeks ago.
Lifeline chairman John Brogden said the surge in calls “reflects the fact that this feels a lot tougher than last time”.
NSW recorded 98 new local cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, maintaining a three-day average in the high 90s.
Up to 44 cases were active in the community while infectious, including 20 for their entire infectious period.
A full list of NSW exposure sites can be found at health.nsw.gov.au