COVID-19 daily wrap: PM tightens indoor gatherings
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced further restrictions on indoor public gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19. Mr Morrison has ordered no more than one person for every four square metres, including in cafes, restaurants and bars. The new rule is effective today. The prime minister says every Australian has a role to play in slowing the spread of the virus.
- Mr Morrison said the federal budget would not be handed down until October 6, due to uncertainty around financial forecasts.
- Australia recorded its seventh death as a result of COVID-19 after an 81-year-old woman in NSW died. The virus death toll in NSW has hit six, the worst in Australia. NSW confirmed its biggest 24-hour spike in confirmed cases today, with 75 new infections. There were 709 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australia, as at 6:30am AEDT.
- Western Australia has 52 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as at 6:30am AEDT. There has been one death in the state.
- Australia’s big four banks will defer billions of loan repayments for small businesses and personal customers affected by COVID-19 for six months.
- Aged care facilities will receive a $444.6 million boost from the federal government to hold on to workers and keep businesses going. The funding comprises $234.9 million in retention bonuses, $78.3 million to support continuity of the workforce and $26.9 million to keep facilities financially viable. The sector will receive a further $12.3 million to support the My Aged Care service.
- Energy Minister Angus Taylor has asked energy companies to extend hardship policies to Australians struggling to pay power bills, due to impacts from COVID-19. He has also asked petrol stations to pass on savings to customers.
- Telstra has made 1,000 temporary jobs available to stood-down Qantas staff. The airline had announced yesterday it would cut two thirds of its 30,000 employees. Telstra will also freeze its job cutting program for six months and suspend late payment fees and disconnections.
- Foodbank WA is seeking food donations from the public via a drive-through drop-off service, a first for the company, to be held at Perth Airport on Saturday. Foodbank said its shelves had been stripped due to increased demand for emergency food assistance
- The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research has postponed its annual Hawaiian Walk for Women’s Cancer from the planned date of May 2 but is aiming to proceed with its MACA Cancer 200 charity bike ride in October.
- The decision comes days after Youth Focus cancelled this year’s Hawaiian Ride for Youth, which was to take place from Tuesday 24 March to Saturday 28 March. The MACA Cancer 200 and Hawaiian Ride for Youth are two of WA’s largest charity fund raisers.
- Another major fund raiser, HBF’s Run for A Reason, was cancelled earlier this month. HBF announced today that it would suspend face-to-face services in its branches, starting next week. It said the decision was to protect branch staff and customers from the risk of COVID-19 infection.
More to come…