The Prime Minister has left the door open to further financial assistance for New South Wales and has stressed that a hard lockdown, not extra jabs, is the only way to get the state out of its escalating COVID-19 crisis.
Australia's most populous state has recorded 141 new locally acquired cases and 38 of them were infectious while in the community. There were two deaths in Sydney overnight taking the current outbreak's total to eight. Victoria recorded 11 new cases in the same period, but they were all found in home isolation.
There have also been anti-lockdown protests in Sydney and Melbourne in which there were clashes with police and thousands of people defied stay-and-home orders and social distancing requirements. More than 50 people have been charged and police are scouring CCTV and social media for other offenders.
Despite being no great fan of lockdowns in the past, Mr Morrison now views it as the primary tool to tackle the Delta strain.
"Let me be clear, there is not an alternative to the lockdown in New South Wales to get this under control," the Prime Minister said.
"There is no other magic bullet that is going to do that."
"There is no vaccine solution that's going to do that. The lockdown is what is going to do it. It can be assisted by the vaccines, but the lockdown must be effective.
"The alternative does not bear thinking. It's essential every effort is focused on making sure that lockdown does its job."
The New South Wales plea for Pfizer vaccine doses from other states was knocked back last week with the urged to maximise the doses it already has. The state also renewed its urgent request for the government to restart the $90 billion dollar JobKeeper wages subsidy program.
"We don't want anyone to be feeling they have been left behind or falling through cracks," the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. "We are here to support every single citizen during this time.
Regardless, the federal government is to provide a small additional boost in vaccines for Sydney and - in an acknowledgment of community and state government frustration with the economic impact of the extended lockdown - has left the door open to further financial assistance.
The Prime Minister on Sunday offered an extra 90,000 Pfizer doses next week on top of an additional 50,000 announced on Friday.
And again said no to JobKeeper #2, with a caveat.
"The Treasurer and I and the rest of the Cabinet are very open to consider how we deal with the situation as it further evolves," Mr Morrison.
"That's always been the approach my government has taken. We have always kept our minds open and tried to address the need that's there. That's what we'll continue to do. But the COVID disaster payments, they're faster, they're direct, and you get them when you need them."
Mr Morrison has described the anti-lockdown protests in Sydney and Melbourne as "selfish" and ultimately "self-defeating."
The New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Gary Worboys called out "violent, filthy behaviour, risky behaviour, that police will continue to investigate." Premier Berejiklian said she was "heartbroken" and disgusted, while the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said, "you cannot vaccinate against selfishness."
Around half of Australia's 25 million people are in lockdown causing growing frustration with state and federal governments.
COVID-19 vaccinations are being revised in affected areas. Individuals are urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible with second Pfizer doses being delayed to free up more first doses. Meantime, Australia's top vaccine advisory group, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), has urged everyone in Sydney aged over 18 years to get jabbed "with any available vaccine" due to a shortage of Pfizer doses.
Ms Berejiklian said getting jabs in arms is the key to end of the lockdown.
"That is what will get us through this outbreak combined with the restrictions that we will put in place or have in place," she said.
Mr Morrison insists the "the lockdown comes to an end with the lockdown working," he said the national vaccine program must work right across the country.
"We cannot disrupt its implementation around the country that would put other parts of the country at risk," he said.
"The Delta variant can present these circumstances in any state or territory in the country. No other state or territory has some special immunity to the Delta variant."
At an unknown cost, the federal government has secured an extra 85 million booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 2022 and 2023.
60 million doses will be for booster shots next year and the remaining 25 million for the year after.
COVID-19 continues to spread out of Sydney. New South Wales Health has reported positive sewerage detections in Moss Vale and Goulburn in the Southern Highlands, but no confirmed cases. People in those areas with mild symptoms are encouraged to get tested.
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