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NSW and Victoria record 21 COVID-19 deaths as vouchers for parents rolled out

NSW reported 14 COVID-19 deaths with hospitalisations continuing to fall, with another seven deaths in Victoria.

NSW has reported 14 deaths from COVID-19 as caseloads and hospitalisations continue to decline, while seven people in Victoria succumbed to the virus.

NSW reported 7,437 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, down from 7,893 on Sunday and 8,389 on Saturday. Last month, the state recorded an average of 30,000 cases a day.

The number of patients in hospital fell from 2,321 to 2,099 and of those, 137 are in ICU, down from 147 on Sunday and 152 on Saturday.

Victoria reported 8,275 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, up from 7,169 on Sunday. Of those, 638 are in hospital, up from 562 on Sunday, with 72 in ICU and 26 on ventilators. 

The news comes as some NSW hospitals begin addressing the backlog of non-elective surgery, with some public patients being treated in private facilities as well as some regional public hospitals.

Some 43.8 per cent of the state has received a booster shot, but close to 90 per cent of people are eligible, having received their second dose more than three months ago.

About a million people have been advised to wait between a month and six weeks after catching coronavirus to get the shot and 16- and 17-year-olds only became eligible for the booster on Friday.

Vouchers for parents who homeschooled rolled out in NSW 

Meanwhile, NSW parents who homeschooled their children during long-running lockdowns in the state last year are now eligible for a government-subsidised holiday.

One person from every eligible household will receive five $50 vouchers from Monday that can be used to book accommodation or entertainment around the state until early October.

The “Parents” vouchers work similarly to Dine and Discover vouchers and are available in the ServiceNSW app and service centres.

They’ll be joined by “Stay NSW” vouchers later this month, which will give everyone over 18 a $50 voucher to spend with approved accommodation providers.

“These vouchers are a double win: they encourage families to get out and enjoy the best of our state while also providing much needed income to businesses affected by the pandemic,” Premier Dominic Perrottet said.

He said the Parents vouchers were “about thanking parents for their homeschooling efforts last year, helping make ends meet and supporting local businesses”.

The $50 vouchers can be combined up to $250 and can also be pooled with friends and family who are booking accommodation together.

Bookings made through third-party websites and travel agencies are not eligible however customers will be able to search for approved accommodation providers.

Treasurer Matt Kean said the vouchers came on top of a recent business support package.

Mr Kean also announced businesses such as overnight camp and music education providers affected by school COVID-19 safety measures last year would have access to a $14 million grant program.

“The grants will provide eligible businesses and not for profit organisations one-off payments equal to 40 per cent of their decline in Term 4, 2021 turnover compared to previous years, up to $15,000,” Mr Kean said.