Renter grants amid Vic COVID lockdowns

Victorians struggling to pay rent due to lockdowns will be eligible for a one-off $1500 grant.
Victorians struggling to pay rent due to lockdowns will be eligible for a one-off $1500 grant.

Victorians struggling to pay rent because of coronavirus lockdowns will be eligible for a one-off grant of up to $1500.

Housing Minister Richard Wynne announced the grants on Monday, after the state reported 246 new locally acquired coronavirus cases.

The cash is for renters who have lost at least 20 per cent of their income as a result of the pandemic, backdated to May 27 when the fourth lockdown began.

To be eligible, tenants will need to be paying more than 30 per cent of their income on rent, earn no more than $62,860 a year as a single or $93,400 as a couple, and have less than $2000 in savings.

The funds will be paid directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant.

"We are also asking landlords, as we did last year, to show a level of compassion to people who find themselves in sometimes very, very desperate circumstances," Mr Wynne told reporters on Monday.

Casual workers on holiday and working visas, international students, seasonal workers, refugees, temporary protection visa holders and New Zealand citizens can also apply.

Tenants Victoria chief executive Jennifer Beveridge described the announcement as a "good first step".

"This is much needed and will help renters in hard-hit sectors such as hospitality, retail and entertainment who have been stood down or lost hours due to the ongoing public health lockdown," she said in a statement.

Ms Beveridge has called on the state government to also reinstate its ban on evictions during lockdown periods.

The state's hotels for the homeless program will also be extended until June 30, 2022 with another $45 million allocated.

Of the state's 246 new cases, 121 are linked to known outbreaks and the source of the remaining 125 infections is under investigation.

Two cases are truck drivers who live in Mooroopna and Wodonga respectively but contracted COVID-19 in NSW.

Another case is a security guard at a Maidstone testing station, which is now closed for deep cleaning.

COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said the majority of transmission is occurring at workplaces and homes.

"This is a pandemic of the young, of essential workers and the unvaccinated," he said.

Almost 90 per cent of the state's 1619 active cases are in people aged under 50.

Only one fully vaccinated person has been admitted to hospital with COVID-19 and they have since been discharged.

The state will remain under tough lockdown restrictions until at least 70 per cent of eligible Victorians receive their first vaccine dose.

The state achieved 60 per cent first dose coverage on Sunday and is expected to reach the 70 per cent target by about September 18, sooner than the government anticipated.

Vaccination bookings opened for Year 12 students, teachers, exam supervisors and assessors on Monday, with 30,000 calls made to the priority hotline over the course of the morning.

The state government wants all year 12 students vaccinated with at least one dose before their final exams.

Meanwhile, social media influencer Nadia Bartel and three other women have been fined $5452 each after a video emerged of them breaching lockdown restrictions late last week.

Victoria Police said inquiries into "possible drug offences" at the gathering continue.

Australian Associated Press