Scott Morrison has warned even more draconian measures could be imposed if Australians don’t take social distancing seriously during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Sunday a fed-up Prime Minister announced tough new ‘stage one’ restrictions, ordering pubs and licensed premises close for six months.
The restrictions also cover places of worship, casinos, restaurants and cafes without takeaway services, nightclubs and registered clubs.
Expressing his frustration with Australians who flocked to Bondi Beach on Friday and Saturday, Mr Morrison begged the community to act responsibly.
‘As we’ve just made very clear, that when that [social distancing] doesn’t occur, then more dramatic measures have to be introduced,’ he said.
‘I would simply ask Australians to be calm and exercise some sensible judgement.’
The new restrictions were announced as the number of coronavirus cases in Australia hit 1,354, doubling every three to five days, and police warned of six month jail terms for those who breach public health orders.
Earlier on Sunday evening the Prime Minister managed to avoid a complete nationwide lockdown after a tense eleventh hour meeting with the national cabinet.
Mr Morrison met with state and territory leaders to discuss further measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus, hours after announcing a second stimulus package worth $66billion.
Scott Morrison warned more draconian measures would be put in place if necessary to ensure Australians follow social distancing rules
1,354 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Australia as of Sunday evening, with seven deaths
While New South Wales and Victoria were pushing for a full-scale lockdown where only supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, convenience stores, freight and logistics services would remain open, the states eventually agreed to more limited shutdowns over fears their economies could collapse.
After the meeting Mr Morrison announced there would be a staged process starting with a shutdown of ‘principal places of social gathering’.
‘I am deeply regretful that those workers and those business owners who will be impacted by this decision will suffer the economic hardship that undoubtedly they will now have to face,’ the Prime Minister said.
‘That is a very, very regretful decision. But a necessary one in the view of the premiers and chief ministers and myself to ensure that we can control the spread of this virus.’
Bottle shops will remain open, after shoppers headed in droves to liquor stores to stock up on alcohol.
Police are hoping businesses and councils will help enforce social distancing measures in the hopes of minimising the spread of COVID-19.
NSW Police said it would allow members of the public to report breaches, including those who ignore 14-day self-isolation orders after returning from overseas.
‘[Crimestoppers will] take information from the public about anyone not complying with Public Health Orders’, NSW Police said in a statement.
‘NSW Health and the NSW Police Force are working together to ensure risks to the community are minimised.’
A senior government source confirmed that state and territory police and even the military could enforce the Prime Minister’s orders if federal resources were needed to deal with civil disobedience, The Australian reported.
But Mr Morrison said the government was not locking down Australians in their homes and said the idea had not been discussed yet.
‘We are not putting in place lockdowns that put people and confine them to their home,’ he said.
WHAT WILL CLOSE IN AUSTRALIA FROM MONDAY?
WHAT WILL CLOSE:
Registered and licenced clubs
Licenced premises in hotels and pubs
Restaurants will only be able to provide a takeaway service
Places of worship
Cinemas, nightclubs, casinos and other forms of indoor entertainment
Funerals will have to follow an ‘enforced’ four-metre rule
WHAT WILL STAY OPEN:
Hairdressers and beauticians
Anyone found breaking the public health orders, such as the 14-day self-isolation for those who have returned to Australia, will face six months in prison (People wearing face masks at Sydney’s Town Hall)
All bars and restaurants will be forced to close from tomorrow, with the latter only allowed to provide takeaways, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Sunday evening (stock image)
Mr Morrison said the new rules needed to be put in place because Australians were not following rules around social distancing while the virus was continuing to spread.
‘We cannot have the confidence as a group of leaders that the social distancing guidelines and rules that we have put in place won’t be followed to the level of compliance that we require to flatten the curve and slow the spread and save lives,’ Mr Morrison said.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 1,354
New South Wales: 533
Western Australia: 120
South Australia: 100
Australian Capital Territory: 19
Northern Territory: 5
TOTAL CASES: 1,354
Parents were reassured schools would reopen after the Easter holidays, based on current medical advice.
Victorian and ACT school holidays have already been brought forward to Tuesday.
South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory are imposing two-week quarantine periods on people seeking to enter these states, with police checkpoints posted to monitor travellers.
The AFL announced matches would be suspended until at least May 31.
Meanwhile the NRL will attempt to forge ahead with the 2020 season despite strict new coronavirus measures which have prompted the AFL to postpone its competition.
The NRL on Sunday insisted games would continue until it was told otherwise by the government, amid financial concerns over any lost rounds.
The remainder of the competition could be played in Queensland in a last-ditch bid to save the game from complete extinction.
Warner Bros. Movie World (pictured), Sea World, Wet’n’Wild, Paradise Country and Topgolf, will also be closed from Monday
Village Roadshow Theme Parks (VRTP) announced the closure on Sunday, leaving more than 5,000 people without jobs
WHAT’S IN SCOTT MORRISON’S $189BILLION BAILOUT PACKAGE?
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday announced a second stimulus package and acknowledged the economic damage would be far worse than anticipated.
The extra $66 billion brings the giant rescue package to $189 billion, about 10 per cent of Australia’s GDP, to avoid economic catastrophe.
The second bailout package was announced ahead of Stage One restrictions on Sunday night which forces pubs, clubs, casinos, gyms, nightclubs and churches to close for six months.
THE SECOND STIMULUS PACKAGE – $66BILLION
Cash to keep Australians in jobs
Eligible businesses that withhold tax to the ATO on their employees’ salary and wages will receive a payment equal to the amount withheld, up to a maximum payment of $100,000.
Eligible businesses that pay salary and wages will receive a minimum payment of $20,000, even if they are not required to withhold tax.
This new measure is worth $25.2billion.
It is open to businesses with turnover under $50million and will now also be available to eligible not-for-profit charities
It will benefit around 690,000 businesses employing around 7.8 million people and 30,000 not for profits
Supporting small businesses with loans
A new Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme will be able to be accessed by eligible banks and non-bank lenders
The Commonwealth will guarantee 50 per cent of an eligible loan to small businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus
The Scheme will have the capacity to support lending of $40billion to SMEs
SMEs that have less than $50m turnover per year will be eligible under the Scheme
Loans will be used for working capital purposes and be unsecured and it will be for loans granted within 6 months starting 1 April 2020
The Scheme will apply to new or existing customers of banks and non-bank lenders. It will be repayment free for 6 months
The maximum loan will be $250,000 for a term up to 3 years
It will not apply to re-financing of existing customers. Those already have existing loans that will benefit from the ABA announcement
THE FIRST STIMULUS PACKAGE – $123BILLION
Stimulus payments to households to support growth
· $4.8 billion to provide a one-off $750 stimulus payment to pensioners, social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.
Around half of those that will benefit are pensioners. The payment will be tax free and will not count as income for Social Security, Farm Household Allowance and Veteran payments.
There will be one payment per eligible recipient. If a person qualifies for the one off payment in multiple ways, they will only receive one payment.
Payments will be from 31 March 2020 on a progressive basis, with over 90 per cent of payments expected to be made by mid-April.
Delivering support for business investment
· $700 million to increase the instant asset write off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expand access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020.
For example, assets that may be able to be immediately written off are a concrete tank for a builder, a tractor for a farming business, and a truck for a delivery business.
· $3.2 billion to back business investment by providing a time limited 15 month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions.
Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct an additional 50 per cent of the asset cost in the year of purchase.
These measures start today and will support over 3.5 million businesses (over 99 per cent of businesses) employing more than 9.7 million employees or 3 in every 4 workers.
The measures are designed to support business sticking with investment they had planned, and encouraging them to bring investment forward to support economic growth over the short term.
Cash flow assistance for businesses
· $6.7 billion to boost cash flow for employers by up to $25,000 with a minimum payment of $2,000 for eligible small and medium-sized businesses.
The payment will provide cash flow support to businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff, between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020. The payment will be tax free.
This measure will benefit around 690,000 businesses employing around 7.8 million people. Businesses will receive payments of 50 per cent of their Business Activity Statements or Installment Activity Statement from 28 April with refunds to then be paid within 14 days.
· $1.3 billion to support small businesses to support the jobs of around 120,000 apprentices and trainees.
Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice.
Assistance for severely-affected regions
· $1 billion to support those sectors, regions and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus, including those heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture and education.
This will include the waiver of fees and charges for tourism businesses that operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Commonwealth National Parks.
It will also include additional assistance to help businesses identify alternative export markets or supply chains. Targeted measures will also be developed to further promote domestic tourism.
Further plans and measures to support recovery will be designed and delivered in partnership with the affected industries and communities.
If games are lost, there are fears of a ‘catastrophic’ financial impact with dire outcomes within months for the league and some clubs.
Iconic theme parks Dreamworld and White Water World will be closed from Monday amid COVID-19 concerns and government restrictions.
A statement from Ardent Leisure says no confirmed cases have been reported at either of the venues, but social distancing measures as well as government restrictions on non-essential indoor and mass gatherings are the reasons for the temporary closure.
‘We will continue to monitor and follow advice from government health authorities,’ a statement from the Ardent Leisure board said on Sunday.
The rest of the Gold Coast theme parks, Warner Bros. Movie World, Sea World, Wet’n’Wild, Paradise Country and Topgolf, will also be closed from Monday.
Village Roadshow Theme Parks (VRTP) announced the closure on Sunday, leaving more than 5,000 people without jobs.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (right) will close all non-essential services in the state to slow the spread of coronavirus
Pictured: A quiet restaurant in Melbourne on Saturday. Restaurants have been ordered to close along with licenced premises in hotels
An announcement the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is going to be cancelled is also expected in the coming days.
Mr Morrison confirmed the rules banning Australians from travelling overseas applied to everyone, including athletes set to go to the Olympics if the ban is still in place in July.
‘The AOC will make their decision but the simple answer is that we have a complete travel ban to the rest of the world, so the smartraveller advice and the advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade I think is pretty clear,’ he told 7News on Sunday.
‘The health of all Australians is the most important thing and there’s nothing more important than that.’
The global tally of COVID-19 cracked 300,000 on Sunday, with just over 13,000 deaths and 96,000 patients recovering.
In Australia, the number of cases has risen to 1,354, meaning the caseload is now doubling every three days. Seven people have died.
State and territory leaders and Mr Morrison have recommended against all non-essential domestic travel, following the unprecedented ban on international travel.
WA Premier Mark McGowan announced entry to his state would be restricted via road, rail, air and sea from 1.30pm local time on Tuesday.
There will be exemptions for health, emergency, defence and policing personnel, certain mining industry workers, flight crews, essential goods deliverers and on compassionate grounds.
SCHOOLS TO STAY OPEN AFTER EASTER BREAK
Schools will resume classes after the Easter holidays based on the latest medical advice relating to the coronavirus.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned schools could be closed for the entire year if Australians don’t co-operate with authorities to stem the spread of the virus.
A meeting between the prime minister and state and territory leaders on Sunday night ended with the leaders agreeing all schools should reopen on the other side of the Easter break, subject to further health advice.
But Mr Morrison warned it would not be school holidays as usual, and the actions taken by parents and children over the break would have broad impacts.
‘There will not be trips interstate … there will not be congregating up at the trampoline venue or whatever it happens to be,’ he said.
‘It won’t be a holiday as anyone has ever known it.
‘The decisions that parents make, that we all make, over the course of the next few weeks in particular could very seriously determine the trajectory that Australia continues to go on in relation to the coronavirus.’
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the risk to schoolchildren from the virus was very low.
‘The consensus view of all of the chief health officers is schools should stay open,’ he said.
Victorian and ACT schools are set to close on Tuesday, with the state and territory bringing forward the Easter holiday break.
Mr Morrison said the states and territories could be forced to take severe measures if Australians continued to ignore warnings to maintain safe distances from other people, stay home from work if sick, and limit travel.
‘If there is not a broad co-operation in the population … states will have to take more severe measures,’ Mr Morrison told ABC television on Sunday night.
‘(The restrictions) just won’t be for a couple of weeks. I mean kids could lose their entire year of school. That’s what’s at stake here. ‘
Mr Morrison said in an earlier interview his family was heeding current medical advice.
‘My kids will be going to school in the morning and … we will be following the medical advice,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘For those health workers and others, a complete closure of schools across the country would take out 30 per cent of our health workforce.
‘Now, you could imagine what the health impact would be.’
By Australian Associated Press
Beachgoers are seen at Bondi Beach on Friday (pictured) despite the threat of coronavirus
Unless exempted, arrivals from interstate will be ordered to self-isolate for 14 days.
‘Western Australia is now in a war, the type of war we have never seen before,’ Mr McGowan said.
‘These are extreme steps but these are extreme days.’
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said most new diagnoses of coronavirus were still related to travellers.
It might be another week or two until the increased travel restrictions flowed through to a reduction in travel-related cases, he said.
In a bid to ease Australia’s expected dive into recession, the federal government announced a second round of stimulus measures worth $66 billion.
It will temporarily double the Jobseeker payment – known as Newstart until last Friday – and make it easier for casuals and sole traders to access it; give a second round of $750 cash payments to pensioners; and significantly expand the already announced cash flow injection into small businesses, which will now get at least $20,000 and up to $100,000 each.
Supermarkets and bottle shops, considered to be like ‘any other retail premises’, will remain open
Rangers were on hand to help move people along from the beach on Sunday after Mr Morrison closed it due to lack of social distancing
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg described this as a supercharged safety net and flagged further measures as the crisis evolves, saying it was in no way a ‘set and forget’ situation.
State governments have also implemented stimulus measures and are looking at other ways to ease pressure on people, including how to give renters and commercial tenants a break.
The government is also urgently considering how to bring home Australians trapped overseas or on board cruise ships.
Federal parliament will sit from Monday to debate and pass laws enabling the initial two stimulus packages, with more measures expected in coming weeks.
Labor will seek to amend some of the bills, but is committed to passing the laws.