Covid Sydney: Permanent lockdown possible without vaccines

Until most of Greater Sydney is vaccinated, lockdown could be a “permanent feature” of life, an economist has proposed.

Lockdown could be a “permanent” part of life until the majority of the population is vaccinated, according to an Australian economist.

While Sydneysiders are on tenterhooks to see if their lockdown efforts will be represented in a Covid-19 case decline, economist Gareth Aird said they may need to come to grips with restrictions lasting a lot longer than expected.

Mr Aird, who is CommBank’s head of Australian economics, told The Australian the coming week would be critical in determining whether a lockdown end date could soon be set.

“We will have a much better gauge as to whether or not the stricter lockdown will push the daily number of new Covid-19 cases down in a way that means we can project the end date of the lockdown,” he said.

“If not, we are likely to be facing a central scenario for the economy that sees the lockdown in Greater Sydney as a permanent feature until a yet-to-be-determined vaccine threshold has been reached.”

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has continued to tout vaccines as the only real way out of the pandemic, and on Friday called on federal support to urgently vaccinate people in Sydney’s west and southwest.

She also warned that restrictions could remain in place until October, when it was expected that most of the population would be vaccinated.

“Our challenge is, as I said yesterday, to live as freely and as safely as possible until we get enough vaccines in arms,” she said.

“That means that we need to live as freely and as safely as possible during August, September, and October, according to the federal (government’s) vaccination rollout.”

There were 136 new cases of Covid-19 announced Friday – the highest daily number so far in the current outbreak.

That was despite Greater Sydney having now been in lockdown for a month.

Whole Australian economy hit

The closure of the construction industry and non-essential businesses in Greater Sydney combined with the Victorian and South Australian lockdowns were to have dire consequences on the country’s GDP, according to Mr Aird.

His earlier prediction of a 1.4 per cent dip in GDP for the September quarter was now out of the question, as was his forecast of a 0.7 per cent economic contraction.

Mr Aird argued income support for businesses and workers were Australia’s best chance at bouncing back economically once the lockdown was over.

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