09/04/2020 11:50 AM AEST | Updated 09/04/2020 5:03 PM AEST

Coronavirus In Australia: $5000 Fines For Spitting On Frontline Workers

Black box taken off Ruby Princess, Aussies use police hotline to dob and other things to know about coronavirus in Australia.

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
A number of major Gold Coast beaches were closed from midnight on Tuesday over COVID-19 concerns.

See the latest stories on the coronavirus outbreak.  

At least 6,024 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Australia and 51 people have died.

New South Wales has the highest statistic at 2,734 cases.

The virus has killed more than 81,000 people worldwide and more than 1.4 million are infected.

Here’s what is happening in Australia today:

1. Massive Fines For Abusing Frontline Workers

People caught spitting on health care workers, police or other frontline workers in NSW may cop an on-the-spot $5000 fine, authorities said on Thursday. 

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced the measure to crack down on the “abhorrent” abuse some individuals have been inflicting on frontline workers including supermarket staff, pharmacists and police. 

“How incredibly ridiculous is it that anybody can think it is acceptable to spit on or cough on frontline health workers, health officials, police or any of our border force officials,” Hazzard said in a press conference on Thursday.

“We’re telling you, stop it or you’ll cop it.”

3. NRL Season To Resume May 28

The NRL will restart its season on May 28 after its innovations committee and the ARL Commission each met on Thursday.

ARL Commissioner Wayne Pearce, who is heading up the innovations committee, said: “I’m pleased to announce we’re planning a competition start on May 28.

“The details on the competition structure we haven’t got yet because the landscape is changing around government boundaries. That will feed into the complexity structure.”


3. Australians Love To Dob

Authorities have confirmed that Aussies are calling the cops on their neighbours and community members who are standing too close together, having dinner parties and renting holiday accommodations. 

There have been 5,000 calls to Crime Stoppers in NSW alone with people reporting that others are flouting social distancing rules, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said on Thursday. 

“From my perspective, that means the community are well behind us on this journey,” he told reporters.

Loren Elliott / Reuters
People walk past a "Beach Closed" sign at Bondi Beach, as the beach remains closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sydney, Australia April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll told the ABC Queenslanders are also calling the police hotlines to alert authorities of people potentially not complying wIth social distancing rules. 

“Two nights ago, a group of friends decided to book a room, knowing they’re doing the wrong thing, five of them, 2:00 in the morning, they were reported as having a noisy party, so all five have got a fine,” she said.  

“In the last few days, a lady was reported for breaching quarantine, she was fined once, and then reported again, and ultimately arrested for those reasons.”

4. Police Take ‘Black Box’ Off Cruise Ship In Coronavirus Homicide Probe

Police have spoken to the captain of a cruise ship which disembarked hundreds of passengers infected with the coronavirus in Sydney, as part of a homicide investigation into the country’s deadliest single source of infection.

The Ruby Princess owned by Carnival Corp has become a flashpoint of public anger in Australia after authorities granted the ship permission to disembark its passengers last month without health checks.

James D. Morgan via Getty Images
The Princess cruise ship, Ruby Princess, berthed inside Port Kembla dock after being held by authorities due to COVID-19 outbreak on April 6, 2020 in Port Kembla, NSW, Australia.

About 400 of the passengers later tested positive for the coronavirus and 15 have died, more than a third of Australia’s 51 deaths from COVID-19, prompting accusations the ship’s crew concealed the extent of sickness on board when they requested permission to disembark.

Investigators boarded the ship at a port south of Sydney, interviewed the captain and took electronic logs as evidence, New South Wales (NSW) state Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said.

“They spoke to the captain of the ship, who was extremely helpful,” Fuller told reporters on Thursday.

“Ships have a black box very similar to that of international planes, and that and other evidence has been seized for further investigation.”

About 1,000 crew of various nationalities remain on board the ship.

Cruise ships have been held responsible for about a fifth of Australia’s roughly 6,000 coronavirus cases.

5. $130b JobKeeper Wage Subsidy Passed To Help Millions Of Workers

The government will subsidise the wages of 6 million people for at least the next six months after the JobKeeper Payment passed through parliament late Wednesday night. 

It’s the largest financial stimulus package Australia has ever seen and is designed to cushion the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic.

Citing the threat of a prolonged economic downturn, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government late last month outlined a plan to pay employees at any company that has seen a 30% reduction in revenues $1,500 every fortnight.

The wage subsidy package, which is expected to cost $130 billion, is the centrepiece of $320 billion pledged by the government and central bank in financial support as the pandemic shuts companies and leaves many unemployed.

(Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison reacts during a division for amendment to the Coronavirus Economic Response Bill in the House of Representatives at Parliament House on April 08, 2020 in Canberra, Australia.

“This is the biggest economic lifeline that this country has ever seen,” Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra.

“We will do whatever is necessary to ensure our nation gets to the other side of this coronavirus pandemic.”

The package was approved by a pared back version of Australia’s parliament with the support of the opposition Labor party.

Fewer than normal lawmakers were present for the one-day sitting to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.

6. Pre School To Be Free In NSW For The Next 6 Months 

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Thursday that preschool will be free for all parents in the state over the next six months. 

“We’re pleased to do this because we know household budgets are under pressure, families are under preference, for the next six months, preschool will be free in New South Wales,” she said. 

“To match the Federal Government on child care centres, currently low ― local government wasn’t covered so we’re stepping up and paying the other half.  So it means that child care centres run by local governments don’t have to worry about providing the vital services. 

Berejiklian said the move will cost the state $82 million. 

Reuters contributed to this report.