It would cost Australia $1.4 billion a week if this one state went back into stage-three restrictions to fight a second wave of COVID-19.
It would cost Australia $1.4 billion a week if this one state went back into stage-three restrictions to fight a second wave of COVID-19.

$1.4b-a-week economic hit if NSW locks down again

It would cost Australia $200 million a day - a massive $1.4 billion a week - if Victoria's sickening second wave forced NSW to shut down and return to level three restrictions. 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday warned of the "devastating" cost if people failed to stick to social distancing measures here - as pictures taken at major Sydney retail centres showed people crammed on escalators and in shops.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday. Picture: Jeremy Piper/NCA NewsWire
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday. Picture: Jeremy Piper/NCA NewsWire

Leaders have rallied to ask NSW residents to accept "short-term pain" for long-term gain in a bid to avoid the horror that is befalling Victoria, as the state eclipsed 2462 active virus cases.

Federal Treasury modelling estimates that a return to stage three restrictions in NSW would cost the economy $1.4 billion a week. And NSW Treasury modelling shows it would also halt the expected recovery of 280,000 people returning to employment.

 

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As the state government yesterday announced further restrictions on indoor hospitality venues, weddings and funerals, industry warned it could not survive a "seesaw" approach to lockdowns.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian last night told The Saturday Telegraph: "The cost to our health and economy if people fail to follow the rules could be devastating."

"Social distancing, good hygiene and being COVID-safe are not recommendations, they are literally life and death.

"The health of NSW is our first priority, but we must also protect the economy and livelihoods of millions of people."

 

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the nation's ­recovery depended on how ­effective Australia could be at containing virus flare-ups.

"The speed and trajectory of Australia's recovery from the biggest economic shock we have faced depends on how ­effective we are in containing outbreaks," he said.

"It requires a full-court press from the community, business and our brave frontline health workers."

Deputy Premier John Barilaro - who alongside Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Customer Services Minister Victor Dominello have led the Cabinet push to open the economy - said the state must be willing to accept the "short-term pain" of maintaining social distancing for the long-term gain of keeping the economy afloat.

"Abide by the restrictions now, to protect the future of NSW," Mr Barilaro said.

"Victoria is not even comparable to NSW - Victoria claims to be the education state, so let's learn from them."

 

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the pandemic is the biggest economic shock Australia has faced. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the pandemic is the biggest economic shock Australia has faced. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP

NSW ministers are adamant that the state must continue down a path of reopening the economy but the government is equally willing to ­increase restrictions if the virus gets out of hand.

The government has spent $2 billion to almost triple the state's ICU capacity to have hospital beds to support virus victims if the state does sustain an outbreak.

Wes Lambert, chief executive of the Restaurant and Catering Association, said: "The restaurant industry can only take so many punches ­before it goes down for the count."

 

NOT-SO-LITTLE SHOPS OF HORRORS

Shoppers flouted social distancing rules and jamming onto escalators at shopping plazas across Sydney yesterday, despite six COVID-19 cases being linked to a similar mall.

The Saturday Telegraph witnessed major crowds in plazas across the city, as authorities told anyone who attended a Thai restaurant in Stockland Mall Wetherill Park on five different days since July 9 to get COVID-19 tested immediately and self-isolate for two weeks.

 

Shoppers packed into Broadway Shopping Centre on Friday.
Shoppers packed into Broadway Shopping Centre on Friday.

NSW Health said three cases had been linked to Thai Rock, including a staff member who worked at the restaurant five times between July 9 and last Tuesday, and two customers who dined at the restaurant on July 10.

The authority said a total of six people had recently attended Stockland Mall Wetherill Park while infectious.

Meanwhile, Westfield Hurstville Shopping Centre staffers have put up signs telling customers to social distance, but The Telegraph still saw individuals sharing communal dining tables while eating lunch in an enclosed food court area yesterday afternoon.

 

Hurstville Westfield food court yesterday.
Hurstville Westfield food court yesterday.

Multiple people were sharing one circular communal table when a family of four arrived and began eating food while standing in the enclosed area.

Teens, families with toddlers and people on their own were also seated on other tables nearby.

Software worker Peter, 26, of Hurstville, was seated at the circular table and said he felt safe.

"It's not too cramped," he said.

"(The shopping centre) looks pretty normal … (there's) less seating."

A spokeswoman for Scentre Group, which owns Westfield Hurstville, said "to help our customers maintain the recommended physical distancing while in our centres, we have implemented seating restrictions in food courts."

 

The escalators at Castle Towers were also chockers.
The escalators at Castle Towers were also chockers.

In Broadway Shopping Centre in Glebe, dozens of customers were pictured jammed together on escalators, seemingly unaware of the risk of virus transmission.

A spokeswoman for Broadway Sydney said multiple measures had been implemented to safeguard against the bug, including installing sanitiser stations and increasing cleaning.

"We acknowledge that as a community we still have a way to go - we continue to ask for the ongoing support of our community in maintaining social distancing and supporting our hygiene standards," she said.

Meanwhile, in Castle Towers Shopping Centre in Castle Hill, people were also packed onto escalators, and crowding in large numbers while waiting to purchase food.

Castle Towers centre manager Eddie Paynter said signs throughout the premises told people to keep 1.5m apart.

Originally published as $1.4b-a-week economic hit if NSW locks down again


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