Scott Morrison says Christmas disruption ‘frustrating’
Scott Morrison says he is hopeful NSW will soon return to ‘COVID-normal’ as the state gets control over the northern beaches outbreak.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday confirmed the state had recorded 15 new cases in the past 24 hours.
All were locally-acquired cases linked to the Avalon cluster, taking the total number of cases related to the outbreak to 83.
Speaking at Parliament House in Canberra, the prime minister said he had wanted everything to be open by Christmas – but the virus had a different idea.
“I understand it will be disappointing and frustrating because of the disruptions that have taken place,” Mr Morrison said.
“I have no doubt that the premiers feel the same way but the actions that have been taken are necessary.
“We have got a very good cause and very good reason to trust what is happening in NSW at the moment.
“They really are continuing to demonstrate their gold standard when it comes to managing these issues and I’m very hopeful that that will play out even more positively in the days ahead.”
Mr Morrison said outbreaks would continue to occur during the global pandemic, but the geography of the northern beaches was also helping contain the spread of the virus.
He reminded people who had been in the area at any point in the past fortnight to isolate – even if they were currently interstate.
If NSW authorities continued what they were doing, then hopefully things would “return to COVID normal” as soon reasonably possible, Mr Morrison said.
Although some much-anticipated family reunions won’t happen this Christmas, they “will happen in the New Year”.
“We will get through this like we got through so many other events,” he said.
“Miracles happen every day in Australia small and large and Christmas is a time to give thanks to those that we know of.”
Mr Morrison also announced Professor Paul Kelly would become Australia’s chief medical officer after acting in the role for several months.
Prof Kelly said although the number of cases in NSW had gone up and down, the trend was “good”.
He encouraged people to open their COVIDSafe apps to help contact tracing efforts, and also revealed that Opal transport card data was being used.
If the Avalon cluster continues to reduce like Adelaide’s Parafield cluster does, then the disruption is expected to have a minimal impact on the state’s economy.
Eligibility for the government’s JobKeeper program will change in January, with businesses required to prove a turnover decline for the December quarter.
But with the lockdown possibly impacting the March quarter, Mr Morrison said decisions on whether to extend support measures “all depends on the data over the next few days”.
Pandemic leave disaster payments were also available for people who get a coronavirus test and isolated.
Despite the outbreak, NSW has not sought any additional support from the Commonwealth.
However, Victoria has requested defence force personnel to help their border operations.
Asked about the findings in the final report into Victoria’s scandal-ridden hotel quarantine system, Mr Morrison said: “What matters most is that we learned the lessons from what happened”.
He was also asked about the future of the two-way travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand but he said it was a matter for NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.