Breaking News: Australia is closing down huge parts of its economy to stop spread of virus.
Australia is set to enter a period of various lockdown stages for at least 6-months, the Prime Minister said, as the Covid-19 crisis hits the nation.
“We will be living with this virus for at least six months, so social distancing measures to slow this virus down must be sustainable for at least that long to protect Australian lives, allow Australia to keep functioning and keep Australians in jobs,” Morrison said.
All non-essential services and business will close down, including restaurants, cafes, pubs and other non-essential retail.
Domestic travel will be restricted to all non-essential trips.
Many schools are starting to close ahead of school holidays, with online learning undertaken, possibly well into 2020.
People will be told to work from home and social distancing measures will be enforced by State police forces.
The Prime Minister and Treasurer of Australia said in a press conference that “draconian” measures will last “at least six-months.”
“We want those businesses to start again. And we do not want, over the course of the next six months or as long as it takes, for those businesses to be so saddled by debt, so saddled by rental payments, so saddled by other liabilities that they will not be able to start again on the other side,” the PM later said.
Its likely parts of Sydney will go under extra levels of lockdown, as clusters of the virus spread across certain suburbs.
Victoria and New South Wales are pushing for the complete lockdown.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the national cabinet would meet tonight and it is expected to consider this proposal to lock down Australia’s two largest cities, representing over 40% of Australia’s population.
In Sydney there are 500 or more Covid-19 cases. The measures are aimed at stopping the spread.
All non-essential travel will also be banned.
BREAKING: Victoria and NSW will push for a lockdown of non-essential activities, including businesses. No going to restaurants, no going to pubs.— Andrew Probyn (@andrewprobyn) March 22, 2020
Victoria will also push for schools to be shut from Tuesday. If not agreed by National Cabinet tonight, Victoria will go it alone.
The lockdown of Sydney is set to happen rapidly.
Already beaches across Sydney’s coast are being shut down by authorities.
Images on Sunday afternoon showed beach goers told to head home.
The Federal government is going to stimulate the economy with $66 billion in funding.
“To cushion the blow to households as the results of the Covid-19 crisis… and increasing Australia’s safety net.”
The package is the second round of economic stimulus for Australia.
People in financial distress will be able to use their superannuation to help get them through the crisis, people on welfare will get extra payments, business will be given incentives and cash flow to ensure they can stay afloat. Laws will also be changed to stop businesses going bankrupt.
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Ryan is Contributing Editor