lockdown melbourne
Sydney and Melbourne’s extended lockdown is expected to continue until at least next month. Image – Canva.
  • Majority of Australians want lockdowns and restrictions to cease once targets are met
  • Current restrictions are costing the Australian economy $3B per week
  • Comes as payroll jobs fell in August, although those with two or more jobs increased during June quarter

Close to 80% of all Australians want lockdowns and restrictions phased out once vaccination targets are met, research from the Business Council of Australia (BCA) has announced.

The research comes as the BCA has announced a plan to safely unwind restrictions which it says is costing the Australian economy $3 billion a week.

“Australians are doing their bit and getting vaccinated because they know it is our ticket back,’’ said Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott.

“NSW is yet again leading the nation with the release of it’s roadmap which adopts many of our recommendations.

“We urge all state and territory leaders to do the same, put the nation first and start planning to rejoin the rest of the world.”

Jennifer Westacott, Business Council of Australia

Ms Westacott added that transitioning out of lockdowns is not just an economic issue, but also social.

“We have shown we can bounce back and if we plan now to safely reopen, we can minimise the economic and social damage and get ourselves back on the recovery path.

“Our plan outlines the decisions we need to make now so we can hit the ground running once vaccination targets are hit.

“That means putting in place the systems needed to scale up for reopening and giving people clarity and peace of mind about which restrictions will end and when.”

Plan for targets

The BCA said the first challenge is to manage the safe easing of restrictions, such as through the use of rapid antigen testing, of which protocols should be in the workplace and homes when rolling out.

Restrictions should start to ease significantly once the 70% target is met, Ms Westacott said.

“We should also start to reward vaccinated Australians, giving them greater freedoms in line with their reduced health and transmission risks.”

Once 80% is met, she believes that fully vaccinated Australians should be free from all domestic restrictions, with 100% capacity for hospitality, retail and manufacturing.

“Some restrictions, like masks in high-risk environments and contact tracing will need to remain in place to keep Australians safe,” she added.

In conclusion, Ms Westacott argued that without the removal of these restrictions, Australia runs the risk of losing economic opportunities.

“The longer we take to act, the bigger the risk to Australia’s reputation as a good place to do business and create jobs.

“If we fail to plan now Australia risks falling behind as other nations get on with the task of attracting new investment, new jobs and new opportunities.”

Payroll jobs fall; those with multiple jobs on the rise

The BCA’s calls come as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) announced a 0.7% fall in payroll jobs during the first half of August,

The largest falls were in New South Wales, which recorded a 1.2% decline, followed by Queensland (down 1%), the Australian Capital Territory (down 0.7%) and Victoria (down 0.5%).

“These four states and territories had lockdowns for either all or part of the first half of August, in addition to existing restrictions and border closures across the country,” explained Bjorn Jarvis, the head of labour statistics at the ABS.

However, the ABS has also announced that multiple job holdings were at a record high during the June quarter.

The proportion of employed people working more than one job increased to 6.5% during the June quarter. This is 0.6% higher compared to the start of the pandemic and the highest since ABS began collating data for this series in 1994.

“The multiple job holding rate of 6.5 per cent in the June quarter was the highest seen across the 27 year series, and continued the rebound from the record low of 4.9 per cent in the June quarter of 2020,” added Mr Jarvis.

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