There’s a lot of information to take in with the coronavirus pandemic, as the situation is rapidly changing.
Over the past 24 hours in Australia there have been some pretty significant developments, so let’s take you through what happened.
Australia has almost reached 4200 confirmed coronavirus cases and the death toll has risen to 18 after the ACT and Tasmania recorded their first victims.
A woman in her 80s died at Tasmania’s North-West Regional Hospital this morning and another woman in her 80s died in a Canberra hospital over the weekend.
The total number of confirmed cases stand at 4197, with 1918 in NSW, 821 in Victoria, 689 in Queensland, 299 in South Australia, 311 in Western Australia, 66 in Tasmania, 78 in the Australian Capital Territory and 15 in the Northern Territory.
WHAT WE KNOW
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a new $130 billion support package to help ease the economic impact of the virus on businesses and employees.
“We are committing $130b over the next six months to support the jobs and livelihoods of what we anticipate of being almost 6 million Australians who will need that lifeline in the months ahead,” Mr Morrison said this afternoon.
The policy, which has been named the Jobkeeper payment, involves paying employers $1500 per fortnight for each employee they keep on over the next six months.
Those who are eligible for the payments include:
•Casual workers who have been with their employer for 12 months
•New Zealanders living in Australia on 444 visas.
Payments will flow from the first week of May but will be backdated to today.
Businesses will be required to keep the employee on their books in order to distribute the payment.
In order to apply for the payments, businesses will need to prove their turnover has dropped by at least 30 per cent.
Companies with an annual revenue of $1 billion will need to prove a 50 per cent drop.
On Sunday, Mr Morrison told Australians they should no longer go out in public with more than one other person.
In a press conference the PM said states and territories could decide whether to make the strict new rules enforceable but it was strongly advised that “unless it’s your household, the family, those that are living at your residence” do not go out with more than one other person.
All public spaces including parks, playgrounds, skate parks and outside gyms closed from midday today and Australians have been urged to only go outside for essential purposes like grocery shopping, exercise or work.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
It is unclear how these tough new measures introduced over the weekend will impact the businesses that have managed to remain open.
The new rules are clearly designed to protect the public and save lives – but many also believe it could prove disastrous for Australia’s already battered retail industry.
It is feared some individual retailers forced into a “temporary” shutdown as a result of COVID-19 may never reopen.
AMP Capital chief economist Dr Shane Oliver told news.com.au the latest restrictions would be yet another shock for the ailing sector.
Dr Oliver warned retail would take longer to recover than other businesses as it had already been struggling in the first place.
And he said isolated Australians would be increasingly shopping online, which could cause further problems in the longer term.
“This will reinforce the trend of online shopping, like the very strong Australian dollar did eight or nine years ago,” he said.
“More and more Australians will now move to online purchases, and while some retailers that already have a good online presence to complement their physical stores will benefit, those that haven’t will struggle more.”