NEWS
30/03/2020 8:59 AM AEDT | Updated 30/03/2020 4:53 PM AEDT

Coronavirus In Australia: $130 Billion Wage Lifeline For Employees, Victoria Announces Stage 3 Restrictions

Scott Morrison announces $1,500 wage subsidy to workers plus 5 other things to know about coronavirus today.

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Government Unveils $130 Billion Package To Keep People Employed

At least 4,093 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Australia and 18 people have died. 

The virus has killed more than 23,000 people worldwide and continues to spread at a rapid pace. 

Here is what is happening in Australia today:     

1. Government Unveils $130 Billion Package To Keep People Employed

The Federal Government will inject $130 billion over next six months to support the jobs and livelihoods of what is anticipated to be six million Australians in need of a lifeline. 

Designed to keep employees connected to their employers, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison said $1,500 will be available per fortnight, per employee for full and part time workers. 

“We will pay employers to pay their employees to keep them in the businesses,” Morrison said.

Australians who receive the ‘Job Keeper Payment’ cannot also receive the ‘Jobseeker Payment’ from Centrelink. 

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the subsidy scheme for Australia is unlike those announced by other nations.

“It’s more generous than New Zealand scheme, it is broader than the United Kingdom scheme, as it applies to all employees not just those that have been stood down,” he told reporters on Monday. 

“And it’s available to all eligible firms, not just small businesses as is the case with the Canadian scheme.” 

New Zealanders in Australia on the 444 visa will be eligible for the wage subsidy package. 

2. Victoria Announces Stage 3 Restrictions

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has once again urged residents to ‘stay at home’ as he confirmed the state will enter Stage 3 restrictions at midnight on Monday. 

Speaking to media at a Melbourne press conference, he said the state is enforcing Scott Morrison’s rule of public gatherings being restricted to no more than two people. Victorians will receive an on the spot fine of more than $1,600 if the “critically important” ban is breached.

Like the PM announced Sunday night, Andrews said there are only four reasons people should leave the house; to go to work/school, seek medical attention, purchase essential groceries or exercise.

Quinn Rooney via Getty Images
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed the state will enter Stage 3 restrictions at midnight on Monday. 

“If you are outside, or in your backyard, gathering in more than two people, if you are having friends over for dinner or friends over for drinks that are not members of your household, then you are breaking the law,” he said.

“You face an on the spot fine of more than $1,600 and Victoria Police will not hesitate to take action against you.”

Explaining the restrictions are in place for no “other reason than this is life and death”, the Premier warned young people that “this is not just about grandma, this is about all of us”. 

3. NSW Enforcing Restrictions, Ruby Cruise Passengers In Hospital

Gladys Berejiklian confirmed on Monday morning that NSW will also enforce the two-people rule, and asked for those over 70 to stay home.

Her message to younger people in their 20s and 30s was “you are not immune from this”. 

“Even if you are, you risk spreading it to people you love or spreading it to people in the community who are vulnerable and will lose their life because of this,” she said.

Three crew members from the Ruby Princess cruise ship have also been rushed to hospital overnight. The ship has made recent headlines after  2,700 passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney earlier this month, leading to several testing positive for Covid-19. 

Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
Passengers disembark from the Ruby Princess at Overseas Passenger Terminal on February 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.

4. Tasmania Records First Covid-19 Death 

Premier Peter Gutwein confirmed Monday morning that Tasmania had recorded its first coronavirus-related death after a woman in her 80s passed away at North West Regional Hospital in Burnie. 

He said the state will also follow the two-people rule, effective midnight, with provision of “compassionate care” being an additional reason you can leave the house. 

“Compassionate care would be checking on a neighbour or an elderly relative,” he said, explaining the order will be in place for at least four weeks. 

5. Banks Expanding Small Business Package 

Last week banks indicated they would provide six-month repayment deferrals up to $3 million. On Monday Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh said the package will now support businesses with loans up to $10 million, and they can defer repayments for six months. 

Commercial rent relief is also being provided, with landlords with loans up to $10 million being eligible for six months repayment relief. 

In order for commercial landlords to access this package, they will be required to not terminate the lease of evict any tenants who is in arrears due to coronavirus.

“This takes a huge burden and worry off the minds of those small businesses who are worried about their rent,” said Bligh. 

“To be very clear, where landlords do the right thing by their tenants, their bank will do the right thing by them.”

6. ACT Records First Death 

The coronavirus death toll in Australia has hit 18 after a woman passed away from the virus in a Canberra hospital at the weekend. 

ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman confirmed the woman, aged in her 80s, acquired COVID-19 overseas.

“It is why we need everyone to take the social distancing measures we are implementing seriously,” Coleman said. 

“We need everyone to stay at home where possible, to practice good hygiene and to keep at least 1.5 metres away from others.”

At least 4,093 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Australia and 18 people have died.

New South Wales has the highest statistic at 1,981 cases.

The virus has killed more than 23,500 people worldwide and more than 500,000 are infected.

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