In the midst of another lockdown gripping Greater Melbourne right now and a pattern of snap lockdowns that has defined 2021 throughout the country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a new “temporary COVID disaster payment” for affected workers. This information is vital for Australian hairdressers struggling financially with outbreaks of the virus, with salons currently closed in Melbourne.

The payment plan covers workers who have been in lockdown for over a week, applying to those in the Greater Melbourne area, which is about to enter its second week of lockdown. Restrictions in regional Victoria were eased after one week, with hair and beauty salons and services open for business when a mask can be worn, with a density limit of one person per four square metres, and with working QR codes.

The payment will be available to people over 17 who have less than $10,000 in “liquid assets”. Applicants will have had to use up all of their pandemic sick leave or other leave if their employer offers it to be eligible for the financial assistance. Those who are receiving other kinds of support payments from the Commonwealth, such as JobSeeker, will not be eligible for assistance.

Workers in Greater Melbourne who qualify and have lost work and income as a result of the lockdown will be able to apply for the payment as of Tuesday June 8, receiving $500 or $325 for losing over or under 20 hours of work a week, respectively.

This financial assistance will be made on a week-by-week basis, forming part of a new national framework for handling the virus. This same package will apply to other states if they are declared a Commonwealth hotspot and a lockdown is needed for more than a week.

At this time, it is still being debated how this will be funded between state and federal governments. This will be decided at National Cabinet on Friday June 4.

Those who are eligible for the assistance can apply and seek out more information by telephone or online from Tuesday, June 8.

This is another new financial angle for Australian salons and hairdressers to navigate in the ever-changing business landscape of 2020 and 2021. Our thoughts continue to be with the Melbourne hair community as they weather another lockdown and the financial and business hardships this brings.