/ 21 July 2021

Another day, another couple of lockdowns

South Oz is the latest state to go into a week-long lockdown after 5 local cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus were reported. Victorians have another week of lockdown, and the rules on entering the state have been tightened after 13 new local cases were recorded yesterday. Queensland reported one local case – a woman who’d visited an exposure site in Melbourne. And [drumroll] NSW, 78 new local cases were reported yesterday. The shires of Orange, Blayney and Cabonne in the state’s Central West joined the lockdown overnight after a resident of Orange was infected by a delivery driver from Sydney. With 13 million Aussies now in lockdown (and in Sydney’s case, potentially for a while…), there are growing concerns about the impact.

The economy, to start. With Sydney and Melbourne going through a lockdown simultaneously, 45% of Australia’s economic engine is idling. More than $200 million has been paid out in disaster payments to eligible individuals and businesses in NSW and Victoria so far. And the lockdowns could cost Australia upwards of $10 billion, according to KPMG chief economist Brendan Rynne. And in industries feeling the effects of a harmful 2020, the cost is still being counted. Exhibit A: airports. Melbourne’s recorded its worst annual passenger traffic in almost 40 years, and Sydney’s reported a 70.9% fall in passenger numbers in June compared to pre-COVID times.

And that’s putting it mildly. For those struggling with their mental health, a new study from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare yesterday showed that services like Lifeline have been hammered. There’s also been an increase in ambulance attendances for people considering self-harm in NSW and Victoria. But despite experts warning the pandemic could lead to more people taking their own lives, the data shows that hasn’t happened. A survey by consultancy firm PwC found it’s the most important societal issue according to Aussie workers, with a quarter of respondents experiencing mental ill-health and an inability to switch off from work in the past year.

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