Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warns against reopening Australia before June to protect against a second wave of COVID-19 infections that hit other countries which eased restrictions
- Treasure Josh Frydenberg said he has concerns lifting restrictions in six weeks
- Mr Frydenberg said lifting the restrictions too early could present second wave
- He cited Japan and Singapore as countries which had to reimpose restrictions
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned against lifting restrictions on Australian businesses as it would risk a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 infections.
As calls increase for the government to wind back the lockdown measures and salvage some of the economy, Mr Frydenberg appeared on the Today Show on Thursday to caution against doing so too soon.
He said some countries lifted restrictions when their rate of infections began to drop, only to reimpose those measures as the coronavirus cases rose again.
Host Allison Langdon asked if there was a ‘four to six-week plan to reopen schools and the economy’ being looked at by the government.
‘If you look at Japan, if you look at Singapore, in those countries they thought they were making real progress, they started to relax restrictions and they saw a second wave of infections across their country,’ Mr Frydenberg said on the program.
Australia has seen a rise of five per cent in unemployment due to businesses closing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured: Closed shops in an outlet in Canberra
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned against lifting restrictions on Australian businesses in case of a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 infections
‘There are real challenges ahead. People should not be complacent. Patience is a real virtue.’
Australia had managed to flatten the curve of infection rates- there were now an increase of two per cent of coronavirus cases in Australia daily.
This week was the first time Australia was seeing more people recorded as having recovered from the virus than there were new infections.
Governments in NSW, Victoria and the ACT announced on March 22 that businesses such as restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes would be forced to close within 48 hours.
Those figures had prompted many commentators to say the time was now right for the government to put a near-term end to restrictions that were introduced last month to slow the virus’ spread.
Among those measure were the forced closure of restaurants, pubs, gyms, cinemas and other place of public gathering.
Many others chose to shut their doors due to the lack of customers during the lockdown, causing the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.
He said Australia had managed to flatten the curve – there were now an increase of two per cent of coronavirus cases in Australia daily. Pictured: Shops closed in Byron Bay due to coronavirus
The alleviate some of the impact, the government had introduced the Job Keeper package under which businesses receive money which it then passes onto employees who had been laid off to tide them over until the businesses can reopen.
There had been over $300 billion of stimulus measures put forward by the federal government and Reserve Bank.
‘I understand the severe economic impact that the health restrictions are having on businesses. But everyone understands that we do need to take the medical advice, that we need to preserve lives and livelihoods,’ Mr Frydenberg said.
Mr Frydenberg said the unemployment figure would be five per cent higher if not for the Job Keeper package, which offers businesses money to cover their employees’ wages Pictured: Cotton On in Byron Bay closed
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a report on Tuesday forecasting that Australia’s economy would shrink by 6.7 per cent due to coronavirus; representing the worst recession since the Great Depression of the early 1930s.
The IMF did predict a ‘V-shaped’ recovery from the recession, with a GDP increase of 6.1 per cent in 2021.
However Mr Frydenberg said the depth of the downturn and the timing of the bounceback depended upon when the restrictions will be lifted.
The federal government had not given any firm timetable on when it would begin lifting restrictions, but it was discussed by the National Cabinet on Thursday for the first time.