The federal government has offered to fund extra mental health supports for Canberrans as they brace for another four weeks in lockdown.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Commonwealth stood ready to partner with the ACT government to support residents struggling with the mental toll of a prolonged lockdown.
Mr Hunt has steered clear of criticising the Barr government for extending Canberra's lockdown with only minor eased restrictions, despite the territory's high rates of vaccination.
But his cabinet colleague and local Liberal senator Zed Seselja has lashed the ACT's decision, saying it lacked "compassion and balance".
"This is bitterly disappointing news for tens of thousands of Canberrans," he said.
Mr Hunt fronted reporters via video-link shortly after ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced Canberrans would be forced to live under heavy restrictions for another month.
Harsh restrictions are now scheduled to remain in place until October 15, which would be more than eight weeks on from the start of what was initially intended to be a snap seven-day lockdown.
As another 22 new infections were reported on Tuesday, the government warned the community would be "quickly overwhelmed" by the virus without strict restrictions.
Mr Hunt said the announcement of the lockdown extension made for a "difficult day" for Canberrans.
"I know how hard these lockdowns are, particularly for families with children," he said.
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He said the Morrison government was also willing to provide funding for extra mental health support in the ACT, as it had done for NSW and Victoria as those states endured extended lockdowns.
A spokeswoman for Mr Hunt said support for the ACT would be "broadly similar" to that offered in other states, but would be tailored to the territory's needs and circumstances.
Any package would be jointly designed with the ACT, the spokeswoman said.
ACT Mental Health Minister Emma Davidson said support from the federal government would be "more than welcome".
The ACT government has already announced $260,000 in mental health support during Canberra's outbreak, and Ms Davidson has flagged further funding will be announced later this week in light of the lockdown extension.
"It's important that Canberrans have access to mental health support during this lockdown and post-pandemic," she said.
While Mr Hunt said he "respects completely" the ACT government's decision to extend Canberra's lockdown, his colleague, Senator Seselja, savaged the move.
Senator Seselja was supportive of the initial seven-day lockdown, but has become more critical of the government's response the longer the outbreak has gone on.
The government will relax rules on contactless click-and-collect businesses and house inspections, allow the resumption of golf, tennis and rowing, and has set out a timeline for a staged return to face-to-face learning for college students.
But the other restrictions are set to remain until October 15, pending a review in a fortnight's time.
"This [decision] smashed hope for families juggling work and home schooling, for people who are lonely and missing contact with friends and family and for those whose livelihoods are being destroyed because their businesses are still shut down," he said.
"Canberrans were promised a short, sharp lockdown and were prepared to put up with very restrictive and difficult measures. They've done their bit to comply and yet are now being told that this short, sharp seven-day lockdown will go for at least nine weeks.
"This decision lacks compassion and it lacks balance."
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