Greater Darwin and Katherine workers in lockdown are now eligible for federal COVID disaster payments

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Workers in the Greater Darwin and Katherine regions who have lost work due to ongoing lockdowns will be eligible for federal COVID-19 disaster payments.

The lockdown across Greater Darwin will be lifted at 12:00pm today, but people in Katherine will be locked down for at least another 24 hours as authorities wait for further test results.

Before the announcement, Northern Territory senator Sam McMahon said most eligible workers in the NT “probably aren’t going to be eligible for the full $750” if the lockdowns ended at 12:00pm today as scheduled.

She said many would, however, be eligible for a payment of $450 to cover one and a half days of lost working hours.

“If lockdown ends when we hope it will end, it will be a day and a half worth of lost working hours that will count towards it,” she said.

The payment can be claimed through the MyGov website, with claims opening on August 25.

Greater Darwin and Katherine entered lockdown at midday on Monday after a man in his 30s tested positive for coronavirus.

From 11:59pm on Monday, the Commonwealth declared Greater Darwin and Katherine official hotspots, allowing eligible workers access to a maximum of $750 per week if they have lost more than 20 hours of work, while workers who’ve missed out on between eight and 20 hours will receive $450 a week.

The NT Council of Social Services (NTCOSS) said it was disappointing COVID support payments for people who have lost work will not cover the full period of the lockdown.

NTCOSS chief executive Deborah Di Natale said she welcomed the payments but said they should also cover the first two days of the lockdown.

“We would like to see the federal government reimburse workers for every hour of the last week. The waiting periods — whether it’s two days, or whether it’s seven days — are not acceptable,” she said.

“People are already doing it tough here and they need to be reimbursed during a pandemic.”

Senator McMahon said although the payments won’t cover the full lockdown period, it was still welcome support.

“Really, technically, we shouldn’t be getting this at all,” she said.

“We’re the only place in Australia that has been declared a hotspot by the Chief Medical Officer, which needs to happen for this to kick in. We’re the only place that had that happen, where it’s a three-day lockdown with only one single case.”

The local government areas included in the hotspot are Belyuen Community Government Council, City of Darwin, City of Palmerston, Litchfield Council, Wagait Shire Council and Katherine Town Council (including Tindal), Bynoe, Charlotte, Cox Peninsula, Dundee Beach, Dundee Downs and Dundee Forest.

Earlier this week the NT government also announced one-off payments of $1,000 would be made available to impacted local businesses.

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(Original ABC Article)