The JobKeeper and JobSeeker stimulus packages designed to cushion the economic blow of the coronavirus will be extended beyond their original end date of September, but not without significant changes.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will announce the changes, which for JobKeeper will include a lower rate of payment and stricter requirements for eligibility, in a press conference on Tuesday.

The JobKeeper scheme will now run until March, and will feature two tiers of payments to more accurately reflect an employee’s hours.

Businesses will have to prove ongoing financial hardship via more frequent reporting of drops in turnover.

“When businesses initially qualified in April, once they qualified they were in for the full six months,” says Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

“What we are proposing to do now is that in early October and in early January, businesses will have to be reassessed in terms of whether they still qualify, given what is happening to their turnover.”

More than 3.5 million Australian workers currently receive the JobKeeper payments, which have topped $20 billion to date.

The JobSeeker unemployment package received by more than 1.6 million Australians will also be revised; it too will be extended to March but at a lower rate of payment.

The moves come as Australia’s coronavirus death toll continues to rise. A Victorian woman in her 80s died at the weekend, bringing the total number of deceased to 123.

Victoria’s COVID-19 resurgence has also continued, with 275 new cases recorded on 20 July. In response, the Victorian Government has made the wearing of masks compulsory for those out in public in Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire. Those flouting the new rule are up for a $200 fine.

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