Melbourne's return to coronavirus lockdown "impediment" to economy

Xinhua News,CANBERRA
2020-07-08 15:01

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CANBERRA, July 8 (Xinhua) -- Australia's treasurer has described Victoria's return to coronavirus lockdown as an "impediment" to the country's economic recovery.

The Victorian state government announced a six-week lockdown on Tuesday for more than five million residents of the metropolitan Melbourne area from Wednesday in response to a spike in coronavirus cases.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Wednesday that the move would cost the national economy 1 billion Australian dollars per week (694.8 million U.S. dollars).

He has previously warned that a nationwide return to lockdown would cost the economy 4 billion Australian dollars (2.7 billion U.S. dollars) per week.

"That will fall heavily on businesses," Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

"It will impact on the numbers in terms of our forecast for growth, for unemployment, and as I say, Victoria is a big part of our economy.

"We've announced a number of sector-wide, specific packages for housing, for the arts, for tourism. But we also recognize that the recent events in Victoria are going to be an impediment to the speed and the trajectory of the economic recovery across the nation."

With the government's JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme set to expire in September, Frydenberg promised that the federal government would "provide targeted support for those who need it" in Victoria.

He said "another phase of income support" will be announced on July 23 when he reveals the findings of a Treasury review of wage subsidies and provides an update on Australia's economic and fiscal outlook.

"What we are announcing on July 23 is an economic and fiscal update, which will give people a sense of where the economy is at, and obviously, developments in Victoria are very serious," Frydenberg said.

"They pose not only a health risk, but also an economic challenge as well."
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