Tuesday's coronavirus developments in Australia

We’re going to wrap this up here. Thank you for joining us throughout the day.

Before we leave you, here is what you need to know of the day’s developments.

  • Australia now has 4,557 confirmed cases and 19 people have died
  • Concerns have been raised about a positive Covid-19 cluster around Bondi in Sydney
  • Tasmania had its second confirmed death from coronavirus
  • Multiple states have imposed restrictions on firearm sales
  • The Guardian revealed 10% of all Covid-19 cases in Australia are Ruby Princess passengers
  • Two Australian Border Force staff have tested positive
  • Six Qantas baggage handlers also tested positive


Two border force officers test positive to coronavirus

Two Australian border force officers have tested positive to coronavirus, multiple outlets have reported.

Australian Border Force confirms two of its officers have tested positive to coronavirus. One of the officers is in NSW, the other is in Queensland. Border Force says contact tracing has been conducted @abcnews

— Jade Macmillan (@JadeMacmillan1) March 31, 2020

An ABF spokesperson told SBS: “Both Queensland and NSW Health are providing the officers with medical advice and guidance, and contact tracing has been conducted with other ABF officers and other staff who may have had close contact with the officers.”


[Cont from previous post]

A second woman recently returned from a cruise in Europe on the MSC Fantasia.

The NT health department is contacting passengers who sat close to these people on their flights. It is not required under national medical guidelines for the woman on the cruise because of a delay between her return and becoming unwell, a government statement said.

Australian soldiers will help police and health officers enforce quarantine restrictions in Darwin this week as new restrictions on the sale of takeaway alcohol were also introduced to stop public gatherings.

A 52-year-old man in Darwin who returned from overseas eight days ago had been fined $1,099 for failing to adhere to the 14-day self-quarantine order, NT police said in a statement.

The NT Liquor licensing director, Philip Timney, has introduced controls as part of the public health emergency that require people buying alcohol to show ID proving they live or are staying in that area to prevent public gatherings of people drinking, breaching social distancing rules.


AAP has an update from the Northern Territory:

The Northern Territory government is not yet enforcing tough new social restrictions that limit public gatherings to two people but says it will do so if the public does not comply.

NT police would enforce limits on 10 people for now but the health minister, Natasha Fyles, urged people to follow Australian government and World Health Organization guidelines to gather in groups of no more than two or just with family members to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“If we need to act, if we don’t see compliance, of course, we will need to shift our focus,” Fyles said.

“Right now the 10 people is what will be enforced but we do encourage people to minimise their contact, minimise going out in public to avoid the coronavirus in the Northern Territory.”

Another four Darwin residents who recently returned from overseas had been been diagnosed with the coronavirus on Tuesday, taking the total in the NT to 19.

Two Darwin men, aged in their late 20s, had been in self-quarantine since returning and are now in Royal Darwin hospital. The first man flew from Sydney to Darwin on flight VA1351 on 20 March. The second man travelled on flight QF838 from Melbourne to Darwin on 25 March.

A woman in her 40s had been in the Philippines before returning to Darwin on flight QF840 from Sydney last Friday and had tested positive.


The ABC reports that professional sportspeople will be eligible for the jobkeeper wage subsidy announced by the federal government yesterday.

That’s significant as the Rugby League Players Association seeks to make a new pay deal with the NRL. The AFL and AFLPA inked an agreement last week.

The ABC report suggests the new wage subsidy might bring the AFL and the players parties to the table and that it will have an impact on negotiations within rugby league.

Update: As at 7pm there had been 315,795 unique ABN registrations for the job keeper payment

— Kieran Gilbert (@Kieran_Gilbert) March 31, 2020

Kmart store shut after two staff test positive for Covid-19

A Kmart store at Australia’s largest shopping centre has been forced to shut its doors after two staff members tested positive for coronavirus.

The store is at Chadstone, in Melboure’s south-eastern suburbs.

A Kmart spokesperson confirmed “two casual team members at the Chadstone store who worked on Saturday 28 March have returned a positive result for Covid-19”.

“As soon as we were made aware, we immediately closed the store as a safety precaution and commenced a thorough sanitisation of the store,” the spokesperson said.

“We are working closely with the department of health and have been advised that there is minimal risk to any customers.”


It might seem obvious that local councils have now cancelled their citizenship ceremonies in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

Initially last month there was a suggestion that ceremonies could go ahead without handshakes. Rules around social distancing have put an end to that.

For some, the delay might have serious consequences.

“I get the law is the law and I knew that when I moved here, but to be in the situation where only a ceremony prevents me from gaining my citizenship papers seems crazy,” Aaron Bell, a New Zealander, told Guardian Australia.

Bell has been in Australia nine years and had his citizenship approved after a long and costly process. Now all he needs is to attend a ceremony.

Although he notes that New Zealanders have been granted access to the government’s new jobkeeper program, he is worried that he remains locked out of the wider welfare safety net.

“If I were to lose my job I have no access to any income support, a situation many immigrants from varying countries would also be in depending on the visa they hold,” he said.

“Whilst it hasn’t happened yet and maybe I will end up being kept on thanks to the jobkeeper benefit for my company, the stress is real. I have a mortgage, a wife and two children under 11 – the bills keep coming if my income has gone.

“Believe it or not my next door neighbour from Ireland is in the same situation. It just seems like an easy fix for one group of people.

“Surely some common sense could be used for the hundreds if not thousands that are in my situation. Forgo the ceremonies and make us citizens now. Livelihoods are at stake.”


Land councils in the Pilbara have launched an emergency response group and website to provide local information about the response to the coronavirus crisis.

The group, Recov19er, hosts a daily teleconference update at 11.30am to ensure accurate information is being shared among Pilbara Aboriginal communities.

People can email in specific questions. Western Australia has introduced penalties for people travelling between regional areas, unless it’s for work, education, or another “essential” purpose, and has also closed access to some remote Aboriginal communities in an attempt to prevent the virus from spreading to those areas.

The portal is a collaboration between Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation, Nyamal Aboriginal Corporation, and other native title groups and Aboriginal leaders in the Pilbara.

The Nyamal Aboriginal Corporation co-director, Gavin Mitchell, said they were “working to ensure we are listening to all of our communities’ needs at this critical time to allow us to continue to provide information through to those assisting with this health emergency”.

“We thank you all for your input so far and if you have any questions, comments, feedback or suggestions, please get in touch with us.”


Felicity Sowerbutts, from the Young Workers Centre, told Radio National it (and the union movement) are campaigning for “no worker to be left behind” by the government’s new wage subsidy, the jobkeeper payment. She cites the fact that 1m casuals who have been with their employers for less than a year and 1.1m temporary visa holders are not eligible.

She said:

“Some workers [who miss out] can apply for the jobseeker allowance, but temporary visa workers cannot – so they are left high and dry.

“For those eligible, they can do that, but a wage subsidy we think should apply to all workers, because it keeps workers connected to their employers. When we’re through these tough times employers can get up and running more quickly, so that employers and workers can bounce back quicker.”

Sowerbutts also makes the point that many casual workers in the worst-affected sectors such as hospitality and retail have already lost their jobs, and will now need to approach their (former) employers and ask them to opt-in to the jobkeeper payment.


Free airport parking. These really are unprecedented times.

Wow. All it took was a global #pandemic that grounded all travel for a break on #airport parking.

Thanks @Melair ! pic.twitter.com/5qYfEqZUwq

— Norman Hermant (@NormanHermant) March 31, 2020

NO new cases of coronavirus in Tasmania today #politas #covid19tas

— Emily Baker (@emlybkr) March 31, 2020

A Qantas flight from Sydney to Adelaide has been turned around at the border. @9NewsAdel pic.twitter.com/g5hWTf4PtH

— Edward Godfrey (@EdwardGodfrey9) March 31, 2020


If you are in Victoria, you might find this Q&A from the Victorian health and human services department useful.

It answers most questions people might have – from whether you can have visitors to your home (no), to can you pick up takeway food (yes) and even what to do if you are staying in a backpacker hotel.

The answer to that question is quite remarkable:

If you are currently in a backpacker hostel, you should regard it as your home for the purposes of the stay at home direction. You should avoid spending time in communal areas of the hostel. You may leave the hostel to board a flight out of Australia. Always observe physical distancing requirements within the hostel.

Of course, my colleagues Chris and Matilda may have already answered your question with their excellent explainer, which covers the whole country.


UPDATE: A Qantas plane from Sydney to Adelaide was turned around mid-flight because there aren’t enough baggage handlers on the ground at Adelaide Airport. It’s one of seven affected flights in and out of Adelaide. @Qantas says services will return to normal tomorrow. #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/Vzo647TtOY

— Mark Mooney (@MarkMooney7) March 31, 2020

Labor frontbenchers Brendan O’Connor and Matt Keogh say small businesses who have not been operating for 12 months are worried they will not be able to access the jobkeeper scheme.

Under the scheme, small businesses need to demonstrate that turnover has dropped by 30% in March 2020, compared with the previous year.

“I have written to senator Michaelia Cash seeking that the government clarify the eligibility for the jobkeeper payment to businesses that have been in operation for under 12 months,” a statement says.

“Some businesses have suggested the publicly released details of the jobkeeper payment mean they are ineligible as they may not be able to compare a current period with significant declines in revenue to a comparable period a year earlier.”


Queensland closes the border to Fifo mine workers

The Queensland government has said the state will close its borders to interstate fly-in-fly-out mine workers from midnight Saturday unless they were critical to a project’s operations.

“As all resources ministers around the country have said, the resources sector is essential to maintaining a strong Australian economy,” the mines minister, Dr Anthony Lynham, said.

“It is critical that we move now to prevent people who may have been exposed to the virus bringing it to Queensland.

“Queensland has no known cases in our remote regional communities, and restricting these workers from entering the state will remove a possible transmission route.”

The new rules will not affect Fifo or Dido workers travelling within the state.

Exemptions are available for people considered critical to operations, including statutory positions specified in legislation. See a full list of statutory positions.


Here is what we know about the victims of the Covid-19 crisis so far, including that five of the 19 people who have died were passengers on the Ruby Princess cruise ship.


The Transport Workers Union’s SA/NT branch secretary, Ian Smith, said the news that six baggage handlers have contracted coronavirus was concerning for all workers operating at Adelaide airport.

“We are trying to find out what protections are in place for other workers who may have come into contact with those infected,” he said.

“We want to know how and when this information became apparent and what steps were taken to minimise the risk to other staff. We are trying to find out what steps Qantas has taken to thoroughly clean the area and equipment that infected staff were operating.”


Family violence reports up by 11% a day in WA

The number of family violence incidents reported to police in Western Australia has increased by 11% a day since the coronavirus crisis began.

The figure was included in a WA government press release about a boost to Legal Aid services – particularly appointments offering advice on family and domestic violence cases – in response to the crisis.

Legal Aid in WA has increased the number of appointments it offers for assistance with employment law, mortgage hardship, elder abuse, consumer protection, credit and debt, and financial hardship.

It is also offering immigration law advice to anyone in WA on a temporary visa, such as a partner visa, who is experiencing family and domestic violence.

The attorney general, John Quigley, said family violence “has increased, and is likely to keep increasing, due to the impacts of the virus”.

“Legal Aid has responded to the anticipated increase in family violence in a number of ways, including by transitioning services from face-to-face, to telephone, online chat and video wherever possible and increasing the capacity of its telephone infoline, with a high priority on family violence related matters,” he said.

“It is important that during this difficult time, our most vulnerable community members know they still have the protection of the law and that they are not alone.”


My colleagues Matilda Boseley and Christopher Knaus have been looking through the state-based rules to see what’s on and what’s not.

I know a lot of you have been wondering about one question in particular: can you see your partner if you don’t live together?

See below from Matilda.

As far as I can tell, this is the answer to if you are allowed to visit your partner if you don’t live in the same house - by state *note, most states haven’t made specific references to this so far*
VIC- NO. NSW- Rules suggest NO. QLD-If you live alone. TAS- YES. 1/3

— Matilda Boseley (@MatildaBoseley) March 31, 2020

ACT- haven’t said, rules suggest NO. WA, SA and NT don’t have penelties for leaving the house for non essential reasons so YES but they still urge you to stay home.

— Matilda Boseley (@MatildaBoseley) March 31, 2020

And see Matilda and Chris’s full story below.


The NSW education minister’s office says “93% of NSW public school students continued their learning at home today”.

Spurrier also addressed news that six Qantas baggage handlers in Adelaide had tested positive for Covid-19.

“My team is working through doing all of that normal public health work to ascertain who is a close contact and to ensure that those who are close contacts are in quarantine,” she said.

Spurrier said it was “difficult to tell” whether there had been any transmissions out of the airport.

“What we’ll be doing is going back to all our other cases and see if we can find any links. I understand that Qantas staff probably do have a reasonably high amount of international travel. But we haven’t been able to ascertain the original case at this point in time.”

She said the risk of transmission for passengers was “relatively small” but recommended that people who had come off a flight in the past 24 hours wipe their bags down.


South Australia update

The SA chief public health officer, Associate Prof Dr Nicola Spurrier, spoke to the media a short time ago.

Spurrier says the state has recorded another 32 new cases from yesterday, bringing the total number to 337.

“There are eight people today in ICU, all males from 52 to 77,” she said. “Five are in a critical condition, the remaining three are in a stable condition.”


Health organisations have roundly welcomed the partnership agreement reached between the states and territories and the private healthcare sector to integrate the public and private systems to respond to Covid-19.

Earlier, we reported that tens of thousands of doctors, nurses and midwives from Australia’s private hospitals will be made available for redeployment within the public health system, as part of a package designed to prop up the sector and tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The federal government will wear half of the cost of integrating the private hospital system with the public one. Hunt has made it clear the assistance is not for the private sector to help with profits or to pay back debts, but is to ensure operational costs can be met and staff trained and deployed to help with the virus.

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association chief executive, Alison Verhoeven, described the deal as groundbreaking.

“Ensuring we make best use of every person and all resources available in the health system to support the strongest possible approach to managing the Covid-19 pandemic is critical,” Verhoeven said.

“Maximising the contributions of the private sector to the public-funded response to Covid-19 is in all our best interests.”

Private Healthcare Australia chief executive Dr Rachel David said the agreement was critical to managing the short-term pressures on the health system and also the post pandemic wave of elective surgery which will follow.

She said Australia’s health funds were doing everything possible to ease financial pressure on their members and continue to provide essential health services. Health funds have postponed the 1 April premium increase for at least six months. In addition health funds are targeting financial relief to those most in need because they have lost their jobs, are underemployed or have contracted the virus.

I spoke today with a member of the government’s ventilator taskforce, Dr Jens Goennemann, who has been working flat out to bolster Australia’s ventilator supplies ahead of the pandemic’s peak.

Goennemann is a leader in the manufacturing industry, and is managing director of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, which is helping the sector pivot toward Covid-19-related work, including, in some cases, ventilator supply.

Australia is estimated to have about 2,378 intensive care beds, and a surge capacity to add an additional 4,261 beds.

Currently, though, there aren’t enough ventilators to match that maximum surge, if it is required, according to a study in the Medical Journal of Australia this week.

That study found we could surge the number of invasive ventilators by about 2,631. But the government is working hard to prevent any shortfall in ventilators and is confident of doing so.

Goennemann said ventilators were being secured by boosting existing domestic production, helping new domestic manufacturers build ventilators using overseas designs, converting existing equipment, and procuring more from existing overseas suppliers.

“I can tell you when I look at the current corona figures, I am very confident that the supply and availability of invasive ventilators will be higher than the necessity, even in dire scenarios,” he said.


Last week Australia’s drugs regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, announced a crackdown on advertisements for treatments and devices falsely claiming to treat Covid-19. The regulator said misleading and false claims were being made about items ranging from air purifiers to complementary medicines.

On Tuesday the Australian health practitioner regulation agency, which regulates more than a dozen health professions including doctors, nurses and chiropractors, issued a warning to health workers making spurious claims.

“While the vast majority of health practitioners are responding professionally to the Covid-19 emergency and focusing on providing safe care, Ahpra and national boards are seeing some examples of false and misleading advertising on Covid-19 ...,” the regulator said.

“There is currently no cure or evidence-based treatment or therapy which prevents infection by Covid-19 and work is currently under way on a vaccine. Other than sharing health information from authoritative sources, registered health practitioners should not make advertising claims on preventing or protecting patients and health consumers from contracting Covid-19 or accelerating recovery from Covid-19.

“For example, we are seeing some advertising claims that spinal adjustment/manipulation, acupuncture and some products confer or boost immunity or enhance recovery from Covid-19 when there is no acceptable evidence in support.

“We will consider taking action against anyone found to be making false or misleading claims about Covid-19 in advertising. Patients and health consumers should treat any advertising claims about Covid-19 cautiously and check authoritative sources for health information.”


First coronavirus fine issued in Victoria

My colleague Matilda Boseley reports:

The first fine has been issued in Victoria for breaking social distancing rules.

A Fitzroy restaurant was slapped with a nearly $10,000 fine by police on Saturday night.

“[The restaurant] had six staff there present. There were two people present there who were being served alcohol, and it was being treated as open for business totally,” said the Victoria police deputy commissioner, Shane Patton.

“They refused to say how long they had been open and they refused to state why they were open ... A ‘no comment’ response, which didn’t really help them much because it still gave them the nearly $10,000 fine.”

As of Tuesday morning, Victoria police has conducted 7,010 checks, but so far no individuals have been fined.

Queensland has also issued its first fine – to an unlicensed brothel – for flouting the new coronavirus social distancing and quarantine regulations.

Two infringement notices were issued at the Brisbane massage parlour on Monday afternoon for failing to comply with Covid-19 public health directives.

The police commissioner, Katarina Carroll, says a person working at the Lutwyche business was fined $1,334, while the business copped a $6,672 fine.

“This related to a compliance check of licensed and unlicensed brothels we are carrying out,” she said on Tuesday.

“It’s alleged ... the massage services were offered in contravention to [the coronavirus] directive.”


Six Qantas baggage staff test positive in Adelaide

This doesn’t sound good at all.

#BREAKING: South Australia has recorded 32 new cases of coronavirus, taking the state's total to 337. Authorities are investigating a cluster of coronavirus cases among Qantas baggage handlers at the Adelaide Airport. Six baggage handlers have tested positive @abcnews #COVID19Aus

— Chelsea Hetherington (@chelsea_hetho) March 31, 2020

SA Health is telling people who arrived at Adelaide airport in the past 48 hours to wipe down their bags. About 100 staff will need to self-isolate.


Speaking of the Ruby Princess ...

BREAKING: 32 new cases of #coronavirus in SA. Three are linked to the Ruby Princess cruise ship. Total of 337 cases in the state. ore to come here: https://t.co/13Orbq49gy

— The Advertiser (@theTiser) March 31, 2020

10% of Australia’s cases are from Ruby Princess

My colleague Naaman Zhou has this story tracking the number of coronavirus cases from the Ruby Princess cruise ship.

You should read the story, but this paragraph is damning:

There are now more cases of Covid-19 from the Ruby Princess outside NSW than within the state.


The Northern Territory’s health service wants to minimise the number of people visiting its hospitals.

The health department’s chief executive, Catherine Stoddart, said:

It’s important to remember if you do have an emergency, or need to access the hospital services, please do so.

We are, however, asking those who have non-emergency health issues to see their GP as soon as they become sick to try to avoid becoming unwell. This helps our hospitals care for those who most need a hospital bed during this time.

If you have an appointment at the hospital and you do not need a carer, please come alone.

Hospitals have established a screening process for those attending and have introduced restricted visiting hours to minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19 to patients. Exemptions will apply in special circumstances, such as palliative care, maternity and paediatrics.

The health department asked that people who were unwell with cold- or flu-type symptoms, had health problems or were elderly reconsider their need to visit.


Electronic device for those who refuse to self-isolate

[Cont from previous post]

The WA government is also introducing emergency laws in parliament on Tuesday.

Anyone who refuses to comply with self-isolation directions could be forced to wear an electronic device or have one installed in their home.

Those who continue to flout the directions, or remove or interfere with the device without a reasonable excuse, face a $12,000 fine or 12 months’ jail.

The legislation will also introduce $1,000 on-the-spot fines for people and $5,000 fines for businesses that disobey self-isolation and gathering directives.

Under another bill, anyone who knowingly has or says they have coronavirus and attacks a public officer will face up to 10 years’ jail, and seven years for threats or other harm.

The new laws will be used only during the state of emergency and will be withdrawn after one year.


[Cont from previous post]

The WA premier, Mark McGowan, described the cruise ship crisis as a “nightmare” and “extremely stressful”.

The Artania is scheduled to leave Fremantle on Wednesday with almost 500 crew.

About 200 WA travellers from the Vasco da Gama liner are in quarantine at Rottnest Island, and hundreds of Australians are quarantining at a CBD hotel, along with about 270 people who arrived on Monday on board a Qatar Airways flight.

Hundreds of others have been able to fly home.

About 20 at-risk homeless people are moving into a five-star hotel under a trial program aimed at protecting them and the community from the spread of coronavirus, but the national suicide prevention and trauma recovery project has said it is inadequate.

The ban on intrastate travel comes into effect at midnight, with offenders facing fines of up to $50,000, but there will be exceptions such as for work and medical appointments.


'When the storm hits, WA will be ready'

AAP has an update from Western Australia.

Seven people who were infected with coronavirus while onboard the cruise ship Artania are in intensive care at Perth hospitals, taking the total in Western Australia to 12.

Four people from the Artania are at Fiona Stanley hospital, while three are at a private facility at Joondalup health campus, which is also treating dozens of other stable patients from the German liner.

Two other passengers from the cruise ship Ruby Princess are also in intensive care.

“They are continuing to struggle with their illness and we hope that they get better,” the WA health minister, Roger Cook, said.

There are 54 people battling Covid-19 in WA hospitals.

WA recorded nine new local cases on Tuesday, including a seven-year-old child, taking the state’s total confirmed cases to 364.

Cook said the state government had ordered $15m worth of clinical equipment including 301 ventilators, 201 humidifiers and 200 ICU beds.

“We are sailing into this storm, not out of it. But when the storm hits, we’ll be ready for it,” he said.


From the Thornbury Picture House in Melbourne.

#RealLife #Melbourne pic.twitter.com/rHqNQI1hz6

— Scott Hamilton (@SDHamiltonVIC) March 31, 2020

NSW Law Society to keep close eye on new public health order

The Law Society of NSW’s president, Richard Harvey, has responded to NSW’s latest public health order. The order means people who flout new social distancing rules can face large fines and even jail time.

He said:

The Law Society of NSW appreciates the extraordinary circumstances facing the NSW government, in particular in relation to the number of infections in Sydney.

Clearly there are some extraordinary measures in the latest public health order that would be inappropriate in the ordinary course of events.

We will continue to work with the NSW government to ensure that these extraordinary powers are used sensibly, only where absolutely necessary to protect public health, and in a way that is consistent with the continued operation of the rule of law.

It goes without saying that we all need to continue to be vigilant in observing social distancing measures to stem the spread of this virus.


Thanks to Amy for her excellent work – as usual. I’ll be with you into the evening.

If you want to get in touch with a tip or some feedback, send me an email at luke.henriques-gomes@theguardian.com or a message on Twitter (@lukehgomes).


While things are a little quieter today on the coronavirus front, I am going to duck out a little earlier than usual and leave you with Luke Henriques-Gomes for the afternoon.

The G20 finance ministers and central banks will hold a teleconference meeting tonight to discuss the global economy, keeping supply chains open, and help for developing nations. Australia will be expected to step up for the Pacific.

National cabinet was held yesterday instead of tonight, so the next meeting is scheduled for Friday. Rental relief remains on that agenda.

Thank you very much for your company today. We truly appreciate it. I’ll be back early tomorrow morning. Please, take care of you.


Where are we

There has been a lot of bitsy information today, so to recap:

Australia’s Covid-19 death toll has risen by one, with the death of a woman in her 80s in Tasmania.

Australia now has 4,359 cases of coronavirus; 50 people are in the ICU; 20 people are on ventilators.

There are beginning signs of possible community transmission in Bondi, with a mobile testing unit potentially being set up.

Almost 200,000 businesses have registered for the $130bn jobkeeper wage subsidy in less than 24 hours.

The government has agreed to a $1.4bn underwriting of private hospitals in Australia, as part of a public-private health partnership, aimed at increasing Australia’s ICU and ventilator capacity.

NSW and Victoria have announced a strict enforcement regime of physical distance and gathering restrictions.

Virgin Australia is hoping for a $1.4bn bailout from the government. Qantas reportedly wants a $4.2bn loan


Matilda Boseley and Christopher Knaus have gone state by state for you to explain what the new restrictions mean.

Australia's strict new coronavirus social distancing rules explained: state by state guidelines https://t.co/4MzzC0UQHl

— Lenore Taylor (@lenoretaylor) March 31, 2020


This, too, is an important story, as regional and remote areas struggle to plan for what could be coming for their communities.

Air medical services urgently trying to access more helicopters and planes as they prepare to evacuate seriously unwell coronavirus patients from country areas. https://t.co/So9plmZ6JH

— Caitlyn Gribbin (@CaitlynGribbin) March 30, 2020


A lot more dignified for people than what we saw outside Centrelink offices last week.

Update: As at 2pm today there have been 233,989 unique ABN registrations for the job keeper payment

— Kieran Gilbert (@Kieran_Gilbert) March 31, 2020


This is a massive blow for the Cape and the Torres News.

Stop Press. RIP 'Torres News'. Final edition of a mighty regional newspaper. Huge loss for #TorresStrait & #CapeYork. More here: https://t.co/6uUsa5Xayn #media #journalism #coronavirus #Covid_19 #Aboriginal #Indigenous #qldpol #auspol @aaronsmithtweet @electricnerve @gara_vee pic.twitter.com/5G4HaItXlQ

— Stefan Armbruster (@StefArmbruster) March 31, 2020


National archives opens digital collection

The national archives is opening up its digital collection for people, as well as helping people search for records, if needed, during the coronacrisis:

As we negotiate our way through this historic global crisis, our documentary and cultural heritage held by archives and other memory institutions here in Australia and globally is proving to be invaluable. We are turning to this documentary record as we look for information on how governments and the public overcame past crises – drawing on the decisions of the past, to inform the actions of today.

David Fricker, director general of the national archives, said: ‘As custodian of robust and authentic records relating to, for example, previous public health programs or government initiatives to keep the economy moving forward, archives are crucial. This is especially so given the misinformation and fake news permeating the narrative surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.’

The archives continues to fulfil this role despite closing its public spaces across the country, and cancelling all events and programs until further notice.

‘Our vast online catalogue, RecordSearch, contains millions of pages of digitised content from the national archival collection – this is available free of charge to all. Members of the public can request analogue records be digitised and added to RecordSearch.

‘We are also available online to support the public with their research queries. Crucially the national archives is ready to help any Australian who needs certified copies of documents from the collection related to them, to support a claim for government payments or other assistance.’

To keep Australians remaining at home connected to each other, and to their documentary heritage, the archives has developed the #ArchivesAtHome Toolkit. This online toolkit comprises collection highlights shared daily on its social media channels, virtual exhibitions, kids’ activities, tips for amateur genealogists and information on how to safely preserve precious family documents, photos and videos.


A navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds has reached New York, which is struggling under the weight of critical Covid-19 cases.

Hugh Jackman was among those waving it in.

#USComfort 🚢 #Hospital with 1000K beds arrive to #NewYork 👏👏👏 #science #supplies 😷😷 #ventilators #3Dprinters #technology #USA 🇺🇸 #coronavirus #Pandemia #BreakingNews #COVID19 #COVID2019 #coronavirusupdate #worldnews
📽 : @RealHughJackman pic.twitter.com/2TAmcFNofV

— oyecomovapart2 (@oyecomovapart2) March 30, 2020


The Conversation has published a piece on the national cabinet (which is just the council of Australian governments with a fancy war-timey name) by Griffith University’s Jennifer Menzies.

It appears to have been written for Naomi Wolf, but you may find some answers in there too.


Victoria adds 96 cases, bringing total to 917

Victoria has recorded another 96 cases of Covid-19, bringing the total to 917.

The new cases include four children under five, bringing the number of pre-school-aged children to have tested positive in Victoria to five.

Nationally 14 children under five have tested positive to Covid-19. The oldest confirmed case in Victoria is a person in their late 80s.

Four people in Victoria, mostly aged in their 70s, have died.

The number of cases in Victoria that may have been acquired through community transmission now sits at 32, the chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, said. That’s six more than yesterday.

Four people are in intensive care in Victoria, and 25 others are in hospital. About 30% of all cases have recovered.


I regret to inform you that outside your homes, the worst of Australia is still on display.

Well said @AlanTudgeMP - we all need to stand together against racism. https://t.co/s7EdKlufnU

— Andrew Giles MP (@andrewjgiles) March 31, 2020

Health workers in Spain have been acknowledging the cleaning staff who have been working around the clock to keep hospitals and facilities as safe as possible.

The cleaning staff at our hospitals are hardly ever mentioned and they also deserve a tribute!pic.twitter.com/25ij79UtIs

— Josep Goded (@josepgoded) March 30, 2020

When you think of the people keeping the world above water at the moment, you need to include the cleaning staff – including those still working in offices – who are doing everything they can to make sure environments we are still using are as safe as possible. And of course the service workers, who have also not been able to take a break.


Meals on Wheels and similar services get funding boost

The government has just announced more funding for services like Meals on Wheels:

Meals on Wheels and similar services will be reinforced and prioritised as senior residents across the country are urged to follow Covid-19 restrictions and stay home.

A $59.3m injection will ensure more prepared meals, food staples and essential daily items are delivered to those who need them most.

In total, $50m will fund 3.4m meals for 41,000 people for six weeks – the equivalent of two meals a day.

The remaining $9.3m will be used to buy 36,000 emergency food supplies boxes.


And on Australians who are still stuck overseas, as well as those on temporary Australian visas who are yet to see any concrete assistance, Tony Burke says:

Penny Wong has been working constructively with the Government on trying to make sure that we can get the best possible outcome for Australians overseas and that constructive work is exactly what needs to happen.

The people working in DFAT and working at the different posts have a challenge quite different to what their normal work has been.

And so we’re working constructively with the Government and Penny Wong is leading that.

In terms the part of your question that goes to the different visas beyond New Zealanders. They’re some of the issues that we’ll be working through in consultation over the coming days and weeks.

We need to get the legislation and we’re also getting comments back from business and workers very quickly about who might be missing out and what might need to be done there.

So we reserve the right to deal with all of those issues, but I don’t want to step away from the fact that today there is an announcement made yesterday that we’ve been calling for that will change hundreds of thousands of lives, and that will make the Australian economy one that is much better able to get moving again on the other side of this crisis. We called for it, the Government’s done it and we welcome it.

On the issue of casuals who have worked less than 12 months in their job and therefore would be ineligible for the jobkeeper allowance, Tony Burke says:

The issue that you raised there about casuals who have worked for less than 12 months is an issue that’s being raised with us by both workers and by businesses, I have to say, who rely on a workforce like that.

Today I’m not going to start picking the package apart. A very large number of Australians are better off as a result of yesterday’s announcement.

We’ll work through the detail and the issue of casuals who haven’t been employed for a full 12 months, and businesses that rely on that workforce – that’s one of the issues that we’ll be looking at really carefully.

But today, having called for something that the government was ruling out as recently as last Friday, I just want to make clear the extent to which Labor is welcoming this and wanting to see the passage of legislation.


The latest figures in registering for the jobkeeper wage subsidy has just lobbed.

There have been 192,558 registrations since it was announced a little under 24 hours ago.

The tax office was obviously more prepared than Centrelink. I guess you could put that down to learning from the absolute debacle those suddenly unemployed and desperate people found themselves in after Stuart Robert failed to prepare the department website, or you could put it down to the difference between competence in the ministry and incompetence.


As reported a little earlier, Scott Morrison spoke to Justin Trudeau.

You may remember Trudeau had to self-isolate with his family after his wife, Sophie, was diagnosed with Covid-19. She has since recovered, although not before a bunch of articles about how Trudeau had to do his own laundry

Was very pleased to hear his wife Sophie was recovering well and their children were also healthy. We’ll be keeping in touch.

— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) March 31, 2020


This is what Steven Marshall was talking about a little earlier today:

Forget chocolates and chips, these vending machines are packed with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline hospital staff. We're leading the nation in trialing these machines before potentially rolling them out in our public hospitals. #stopthespread pic.twitter.com/WQs2WJ8NdH

— Steven Marshall, MP (@marshall_steven) March 31, 2020

Melbourne construction site shut down

AAP also reports a Melbourne construction site has been shut down, after a worker tested positive for Covid-19

A construction site in Melbourne’s CBD has closed and 20 colleagues are self-isolating after a worker tested positive for coronavirus.

Multiplex’s $2.8bn Melbourne Square worksite at Southbank was closed on Monday night after the construction worker had the diagnosis.

“Multiplex was notified last night that a worker who attended work at our Melbourne Square site was found to have tested positive for Covid-19,” its regional managing director, Graham Cottam, said on Tuesday.

“We immediately carried out a full clean and sanitisation of the site in accordance with latest protocols.”


We have heard the line “you can’t self isolate if you are homeless” from Labor and Green MPs. Now it looks like WA is trying to do something about that.

From AAP:

About 20 of Perth’s most at-risk homeless people are being moved in to a five-star CBD hotel under a trial program aimed at protecting them and the community from the spread of coronavirus.

The West Australian government announced on Monday the Pan Pacific would be used for the “Hotels with Heart” pilot, which could be scaled up to support other vulnerable people, including victims of domestic violence, if successful.

The national suicide prevention and trauma recovery project called the scheme inadequate, saying there were at least 200 homeless people on the streets of the CBD, East Perth and West Perth alone.


What isn’t included in either list, is visiting a partner if they live in a different household.

Tasmania said to use common sense. Queensland, outside of those self-isolating, seems to be following the same path, as are SA and WA.

Those jurisdictions do not have as much of a problem with Covid-19 as NSW and Victoria, which is the excuse those governments are using for going so hard, so fast.

If you live apart from your partner, or are just hoping for a hook-up, and you live in NSW or Victoria, you risk a fine if caught, under the restrictions they put out last night.



When you're allowed to leave home in NSW

Again, for those asking, these are the “reasonable” excuses for being outside your home, under the NSW restrictions (which are police enforceable):

Schedule 1 reasonable excuses

  • Obtaining food or other goods or services for the personal needs of the household or other household purposes (including for pets) and for vulnerable persons
  • Travelling for work if the person cannot work from the person’s place of residence
  • Travelling to attend childcare (including picking up or dropping another person at childcare)
  • Travelling to facilitate attendance at a school or other educational institution if the person attending the school or institution cannot learn from the person’s place of residence
  • Exercising
  • Obtaining medical care or supplies or health supplies or fulfilling carer’s responsibilities
  • Attending a wedding or a funeral in the circumstances referred to in clause 6(2)(d) and (e) or 7(1)(h)
  • Moving to a new place of residence (including a business moving to new premises) or between different places of residence of the person or inspecting a potential new place of residence
  • Providing care or assistance (including personal care) to a vulnerable person or providing emergency assistance
  • Donating blood
  • Undertaking any legal obligations
  • Accessing public services (whether provided by government, a private provider or a non-government organisation), including (a) social services, (b) employment services, (c) domestic violence services, (d) mental health services, and (e) services provided to victims (including as victims of crime)
  • For children who do not live in the same household as their parents or siblings or one of their parents or siblings – continuing existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children or siblings
  • For a person who is a priest, minister of religion or member of a religious order – going to the person’s place of worship or providing pastoral care to another person
  • Avoiding injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
  • For emergencies or compassionate reasons


ACT now has 80 confirmed cases of Covid-19

The ACT has also released its Covid-19 update. There have been three new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours.

After further testing one of the ACT’s “under investigation” cases has been determined to not have Covid-19 and has been removed from the ACT’s confirmed case total.

This brings the ACT’s total number of confirmed cases to 80.

The new cases consist of two males and one female, aged between 27 and 57. All three are linked to overseas travel, including on cruise ships.

There is one case still under investigation by ACT Health.

There remains no evidence of community transmission in the ACT.

There are six Covid-19 patients in Canberra hospitals. The rest are isolating at home with ACT Health support.

A total of three cases have recovered from Covid-19 and have been released from self-isolation.


In the midst of that press conference, comes this report:

BREAKING NEWS ... Pacific Brands to close 450 stores, such as Bonds and Bras N Things, send home more than 3000 staff .... more to follow at @australian @aus_business

— Eli Greenblat (@EliGreenblat) March 31, 2020

We are chasing that up for you.


To see or not to see your partner

On whether or not you can see your partner – or partner for right now – if you are living in two different households, there is still no clear advice.

It appears to be up to the state. If I was in Victoria or NSW, I wouldn’t be risking it, given the restriction enforcement there. If I was in Tasmania or Qld, I would use the “common sense” mandate.


On who people should listen to, given that the federal restrictions are being taken to the nth degree by states such as NSW and Victoria, Greg Hunt says:

In 50 and 100 years’ time I suspect people will look back on this national cabinet as being one of the most amazing achievements of the federation in Australia’s first 200 years. That’s my honest view.

Having said that, the point of this is to say: ‘What are the standards? We’ve moved across the country to the two-person rule, or the family unit rule.’ Then it’s being applied at the individual state level.

And you may remember from our earliest discussions ... about this idea of rings of containment.

And the rings of containment mean that where there are local needs, where there might be a particular hot spot, then tougher restrictions can be placed.

And this was exactly what was contemplated from our earliest design, but using the common principles, and at the same time what was contemplated and decided by the national cabinet this week.

And so I think it’s completely consistent that where individual states or territories, either across their whole jurisdiction or in part – I know in the Adelaide Hills they had seen an outbreak following a major social gathering, that further restrictions had been put in place in some of those areas – that’s exactly the idea of rings of containment.

Being able to provide tighter controls to protect the population in specific areas where we need that containment.


Is there a time where the medical expert panel expects all 7,500 ICU beds in Australia to be used?

Dr Nick Coatsworth:

We are just over 20 at the moment. And we’ve talked about building capacity whilst containing. So another way to describe that is acting to contain whilst planning for the worst, which the minister said.

So we need a stretch target, if you like, to be sure that we would have enough ventilated intensive care beds. But the absolute priority is not to get there.

None of us – and not a single health professional in the country – wants us to see us anywhere near Italy or the United States.

And just to emphasise where we are, the positive testing rate is three in every 100 in Australia. And recently it was one in every two in the United States.

So every two tests they did, someone was positive. That demonstrates how different the community transmission is, or the [number] of undetected cases in the community.

We literally have hundreds of public health workers in every single jurisdiction doing the contact tracing to make sure that when someone is found with this virus all of their contacts are found and quarantined.

And as Brendan Murphy has said – and we have said all along, right from the start – that is how you combat an epidemic, by breaking the transmission chains. So if we can keep that community transmission under control, then we won’t need anywhere near the 7,500. That is the objective.


Queensland Health has released more information on its latest health alert:

“Three people confirmed to have novel coronavirus (Covid-19) attended a wrestling event on 14 March 2020 at Edmonton PCYC.

“If you attended this event and have remained well, there is no need to be concerned. It is now beyond the maximum incubation period.

“If you attended this event and have experienced fever, fatigue, shortness of breath, a sore throat and/or a cough, then you should seek medical advice. Either ring ahead to your GP or visit the Cairns hospital emergency department.

“Contact tracing is under way for all relevant contacts.

“Please help stop the spread of Covid-19 by staying at home as much as possible, washing your hands often and properly with soap and water or alcohol-based rub.”


On the issue of the modelling, (which I know reporter Sean Kelly is very interested in, along with a lot of bodies, such as the Australian Academy of Science), and which was promised yesterday by professor Paul Kelly, Greg Hunt says:

In terms of modelling, we are working on that, and there will certainly be additional modelling provided. But the Prime Minister, over a week ago, released the modelling in terms of the charts, and made that available to the country. And that was the range. What they are doing now is reviewing that work over the course of the coming week. But every day we’re providing all the information we have.

National partnership announced between private and public health

As Hunt just announced, a national partnership has been struck between integrate the public and private health sectors to respond to Covid-19.

The federal government will wear half of the cost of integrating the private hospital system with the public one in preparation for Covid-19, the health minister, Greg Hunt, has said in a letter to the private health sector guaranteeing its viability.

The letter follows a meeting on Monday between the private health sector and the federal, state and territory governments to discuss how private hospitals and staff will be supported following elective surgery cancellations and until the sector is needed to assist with the coronavirus response, as well as how the sector will be used as the pandemic worsens to prevent the public sector from becoming overwhelmed.

Hunt wrote that in coming days all states and territories would complete partnership agreements outlining an integration plan, and that the federal government would contribute 50% of the funding required for this. On Saturday, the private sector warned that hundreds of staff would need to be stood down and hospitals closed following elective surgery cancellations to prioritise Covid-19 preparedness.

Hunt wrote that the agreement was only to ensure the viability of the sector, and its purpose was not to generate profit or to assist with loan or debt repayment. The viability guarantee would be conditional on the hospitals agreeing to open their books to show government funding was only being used for operational costs.

He said the sector must agree to support the aged care sector and national disability insurance scheme recipients in return and must make its equipment, such as personal protective gear, available to the broader workforce.


Greg Hunt on the curve:

Our goal is to bring down the numbers as far and as hard and as quickly as possible. We are seeing what I would describe as early promising signs of the curve flattening.

But we’ve got a long way to go. And so let us not get ahead of ourselves.

There will be an exit, absolutely.

And that will be guided by the medical advice.

And one of the amazing things is that we have brought all the medical advisers together into a single national source of medical advice - the medical expert panel of chief medical officers that reports to the chief ministers in the National Unity Cabinet - and that’s the place where these decisions are being made.

We’re very strongly supporting that process. So, the answer is we’re actually going, as we’ve seen in the last 48 hours, harder rather than softer.

The measures that have been put in place in the previous two and three and four weeks had begun to yield benefit.

The measures that we’ve just put in place, we hope will deliver more benefit.

And we effectively have the majority of Australians in self-isolation other than for the essential reasons. And work is one of those.

But these will, we believe, improve the situation. And the more it improves, the earlier we will be able to start to release those. But now is not the time to contemplate that release.

57,000 nurses and midwives are also being repurposed as part of the public-private deal, to ensure medical staff will be available for the necessary ICU units.


The new deputy chief medical officer (which is also Prof Paul Kelly’s role), Dr Nick Coatsworth, is at the Greg Hunt press conference to give an update on ventilators and intensive care beds:

At any one time, there’s approximately 2,200 ventilated intensive care beds in Australia.

At the moment, we are using just over 20 of those for patients who are suffering from Covid-19. With immediate expansion, repurposing of other ventilator ... and use of the private sector, we can expand to 4,400.

Our target capacity for ventilated intensive care beds in Australia stands at 7,500. We are working around the clock to procure ventilators.

I can tell you today that, locally, we will have 500 intensive care ventilators fabricated by ResMed, backed up by 5,000 non-invasive ventilators, with full delivery expected by the end of April.

I’m aware that colleagues in critical care, primary care, and throughout the hospital system are under incredible strain at the moment – looking at a wave that is crossing other healthcare systems in a way that we couldn’t imagine.

I think the minister has actually emphasised that we are a very different context in Australia. Our death rate is lower, although those 19 deaths are a tragedy. And my heart goes out to those families.

Our hospitalisation rates are lower. And our number of community cases are lower. But I would urge Australians now is not the time to take the foot off the pedal.

The restrictions that the minister and the prime minister have introduced on gatherings are absolutely essential to prevent the virus from making its only move, which is from one person to another. So I would urge all Australians: follow those instructions to a T. Look towards your state governments for exactly what they are telling you to do.


NSW now has 2,032 confirmed cases of Covid-19

NSW Health has also released its daily update on Covid-19 numbers:

As at 8pm, Monday 30 March 2020, an additional 114 cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed, since 8pm 29 March, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in NSW to 2,032.

There are 164 Covid-19 cases being treated in NSW, including 35 cases in our intensive care units and, of those, 16 require ventilators at this stage. More than 50% of the remainder of cases being treated by NSW Health are through hospital in the home services.

There are currently 211 NSW cases from the Ruby Princess, 79 cases from the Ovation of the Seas, which docked 18 March, and 30 cases from the Voyager of the Seas which [also] docked on 18 March. There are two new cases in NSW from the Celebrity Solstice, making it four total cases in NSW.

There are now seven confirmed cases from a group of 100 Chilean navy personnel self-isolating in hotels in Sydney. Investigations and contact tracing continue.

Two more cases have been confirmed among residents of the Dorothy Henderson Lodge, bringing the total to 21 (16 residents, five staff). The facility remains in isolation.


Greg Hunt on the public-private agreement:

In terms of the capacity, it means [more than] 34,000 beds and chairs ... will be made available to the public hospital system. A third of intensive care units are within the private hospital system and will be made available.

[More than] 105,000 full-time and part-time staff, including [more than] 57,000 full-time and part-time nursing staff.

The activities are broad and they will work together; the hospitals have committed to be fully flexible. They may be taking public hospital services; they will be making their ICUs available.

They may see an exchange of staff or equipment in either direction.

They may be providing support services for patients who are coming from aged care homes or other areas where there may be need for isolation or quarantine. They may set up in the day hospitals, flu clinics; they may set up in other day hospitals’ testing clinics.

They have committed to be flexible in a way that is beyond conception. And what this agreement does is it dramatically expands the capacity of the Australian hospitals system, at the same time as we are bringing down the numbers of what could have been the case, or as Australians know, the process of flattening the curve.


Australia has 4,359 cases of Covid-19, says Greg Hunt

Greg Hunt says Australia now has 4,359 cases of Covid-19.

Of those, 50 people are in the ICU; 20 of those critical patients are on ventilators.

19 people have died.

What those figures show, coupled with the fact that now, with well over 230,000 tests completed, we have what we would regard as a reflective picture of the numbers in Australia.

That is the lives lost – and each one is an agonising loss – are below 1%, then that is indicative that the testing regime is capturing the significant reflective data for the country.

Those within ICUs, and in particular with ventilators, in the low numbers that we see – and all of these numbers, we know, will climb – but they are reflective again of the numbers.

And it presents a very different picture to some other countries, where the lives lost represent not 0.5% but 10% of the cases. It means that the case numbers there are not fully reflective of the situation.

So by having what we believe is the broadest and widest testing program in the world, perhaps only Singapore and Korea, but at this stage our numbers indicate that we are at the global forefront; we have a good picture of where we’re at.


Greg Hunt:

A partnership between the Australian government, the states and the private hospitals will bring [more than] 30,000 beds within the hospital system into an integrated partnership between the commonwealth and the states and the private hospital sector.

It will bring [more than] 105,000 full- and part-time hospital staff, including 57,000 of our amazing nurses and midwives. It guarantees them their future and their support, both during the crisis and beyond, but most importantly it brings the resources to the fight against coronavirus, Covid-19, in Australia.


Tony Burke held a press conference in Sydney, where he said that Labor would not stand in the way of the stimulus package, and was working with the government to bring back parliament (the reduced parliament anyhow) as quickly as possible.


Greg Hunt is about to hold a press conference.

As Melissa Davey and Ben Butler report, there has been a solution of sorts on the private hospital issue:

The federal government will wear half of the cost of integrating the private hospital system with the public one in preparation for Covid-19, the health minister, Greg Hunt, has said in a letter to the private health sector guaranteeing its viability.

The letter follows a meeting on Monday between the private health sector and the federal, state and territory governments to discuss how private hospitals and staff will be supported following elective surgery cancellations and until sector is needed to assist with the Covid-19 response, and how the sector will be used as the pandemic worsens to prevent the public sector from becoming overwhelmed.

Hunt wrote that in coming days all states and territories would complete partnership agreements outlining an integration plan, and that the federal government would contribute 50% of the funding required for this. On Saturday, the private sector warned hundreds of staff would need to be stood down and hospitals closed following elective surgery cancellations to prioritise Covid-19 preparedness.

Virgin Australia out of trading halt and soars 10%

Virgin Australia has come out of its trading halt – and soared 10% – after telling the ASX it has indeed asked for a $1.4bn loan from the government.

The loan could be convertible to shares, part-nationalising the airline, Virgin told the ASX.

It confirmed the Australian’s initial report on the request, published this morning, saying it “continues to explore a range of options to manage through the Covid-19 crisis, including requesting financial support from the Australian government in the order of $1.4bn as part of a broader industry support package to prepare for a prolonged crisis”.

“It is a preliminary proposal and remains subject to approval by the Virgin Australia Holdings board and the Australian government and may or may not include conversion to equity in certain circumstances.

“Companies like the Virgin Australia group are taking a range of measures to respond and manage the financial impact. However, support will be necessary for the industry if this crisis continues indefinitely, to protect jobs and ensure Australia retains a strong, competitive aviation and tourism sector once this crisis is over.”

Shares in rival Qantas, which has lobbied against a bailout for Virgin and reportedly wants $2.4bn for itself, also rose 4%.


The SMH and Age report that if Virgin Australia gets its $1.4bn bailout from the government, Qantas wants a $4.2bn loan to “even the playing field”.


The public health association of Australia has thanked WA, Qld and Victoria for their gun restrictions during the Covid-19 crisis:

The Public Health Association of Australia today announced its strong support for the Western Australian, Queensland and Victorian Governments closing gun shops and firearm dealerships.

Western Australian closed gun shops and firearm dealerships from midday 27 March after an announcement by the WA Premier Mark McGowan. Queensland Health included licenced weapon dealers to be a non-essential service on the 27 March. Victoria followed suit and announced restrictions on sales of firearms and ammunition on 31 March.

“Congratulations to Mark McGowan for showing the way.” said Terry Slevin, CEO of the PHAA.

Sales of firearms have spiked in Victoria since the COVID-19 pandemic.

With increased physical distancing and self-isolation, there is a very high risk of increased family violence.

“We need to restrict sales because this is an unprecedented and volatile mix. Families are feeling enormous pressure, and are spending more time together in close quarters where disagreements can easily escalate. With the report of increased sales of alcohol now is the right time to reduce access to firearms” said Mr Slevin.

Greg Hunt will hold a press conference at 1pm.

NEWS: Australia now has more than 4450 recorded #Covid_19 cases.

— ABC NewsRadio (@ABC_NewsRadio) March 31, 2020


30% increase in NSW liquor sales

There has been a 30% increase in liquor store sales in NSW.

It is one reason why domestic and family violence fears have been heightened.


The NSW attorney general, Mark Speakman, says the state is taking domestic violence issues very seriously during the coronacrisis, given how many people may be trapped in isolation with their abuser.

Update on Covid-19 in NSW prisons

An update on the third case of Covid-19 inside NSW prisons:

The state’s justice health network says it has identified and is closely monitoring inmates at increased risk from infection, including those with a history of respiratory illness.

As an added precaution, they say “all inmates with acute respiratory symptoms or fever are being tested for Covid-19, irrespective of whether they have been overseas or in contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case in the past 14 days.”

It’s unclear how many Long Bay inmates they think may have been overseas recently.

“Any inmate identified as a suspected Covid-19 case is being immediately provided a surgical mask and isolated in a separate cell for testing, treatment, and close monitoring,” a network spokesman says.

“Inmates and staff are also being encouraged to wash their hands regularly, cover their nose when coughing or sneezing, and seek help if unwell.”

As a precaution, inmates who return a negative test will remain in isolation for monitoring for the full 14 days.

There is only one confirmed case at Long Bay hospital – a network staff member.

Two other cases reported in the NSW prison system so far were staff in the Long Bay forensic hospital, which officials say are not connected to the Long Long Bay complex.


Scott Morrison and his senior leadership team will have a weekly phone hook-up with Anthony Albanese and his senior leadership team to discuss all things Covid-19.

The conversations are also happening internationally. Morrison spoke to the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, this morning.

Details of the chat are scarce, as they always are, but the response of both countries to coronavirus was high on the agenda.

Medical supplies and supply chains were also spoken about, which makes sense.

There is a phone hook-up of G20 finance ministers tonight where global financial stability will be the main topic. It’s also understood the need to help developing nations will be on the agenda.


Don't touch the button!

I’ve just been alerted to this – the new “don’t touch the button” pedestrian crossing signs being rolled out in Sydney


The legislation is still being drafted. This is one of the issues.

Almost 1m casuals are employed <12 months, many in hard-hit areas of hospo, retail & tourism.

Gov wage subsidy leaves them behind.

Work is now so insecure that requiring >12 mth emp’t is unrealistic & unfair.

Greens will move to extend wage subsidy to all casuals/gig workers.

— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) March 30, 2020

Tasmania’s second Covid-19 casualty, a man in his 80s, has been linked to the Ruby Princess cruise ship.

There have been at least 200 cases linked to the cruise ship. Three more crew members, who are still on board, have been medically evacuated. They join their three colleagues who had already been medically evacuated from the ship.

292 Australians landed in Sydney on a commercial repatriation flight from South America early this morning, but thousands of citizens and permanent residents remain stranded across the world as airlines cease flying and more national borders lock down.

Many still stranded have been caught by desperate family circumstance, suddenly cancelled flights or closed borders and fear the window to return home is rapidly closing without definitive action from the Australian government to repatriate its citizens.

They have begged for the government to launch repatriation flights, as other countries have, to rescue them.


Guardian Australia has a new series you might be interested in.


Jordon Steele-John says disability carers are missing out

As the first of the coronavirus payments roll out from today, Greens senator Jordon Steele-John has again raised the issue of disability carers missing out:

“It’s clear that this government is still not taking the needs of disabled people and their families seriously enough in their response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Steele-John said.

“The disability support pension and carer payment exist in recognition of fact that disabled people and carers have higher everyday costs and face significant barriers to entering the workforce. Those costs and barriers have increased, not decreased, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Disabled people and carers are also having to factor in higher costs for transport, medical supplies and support workers, as well as unplanned costs for personal protective equipment to stay safe when venturing out into the community.

“To be quite honest, I’m shocked that people receiving the disability support pension and carer payment have been left out of such a massive stimulus package.”


A second A-League club has stood down its players and staff as the coronavirus continues to affect Australia’s sporting landscape.

Following Perth Glory’s lead, Central Coast Mariners have issued stand-down notices to ease the financial burden brought on by the season being suspended. The move has prompted a swift rebuke from the players’ union, which demanded immediate reinstatement.

PFA’s chief executive, John Didulica, said: “These actions undermine attempts for our game to overcome common challenges, fight for common interests and re-establish our sport.

“While other codes have fostered unity and demonstrated leadership amid crisis, we are at risk of regressing to the lowest common denominator.”

The AFL has stood down about 80% of its staff and players have agreed to pay cuts, and this morning its chief executive, Gillon McLachlan, told SEN radio that all 18 clubs would survive the crisis, a day after the league secured a $600m credit line from banks.

“We are going into this with 18 clubs, and we will come out with 18 clubs,” he said. “That is our commitment over the next four, six, eight, 10 months – whatever it looks like – that we will have the same structure at the elite level.”


Queensland has issued more than 40,000 orders to self isolate.

There is now a public health alert for a wrestling competition at the Edmonton PCYC south of Cairns on 14 March: if anyone became unwell in the two weeks since attending that event, they are asked to see a doctor.

Annastacia Palaszczuk has also announced the justice department will now work with the health department for contact tracing, as well as enforcement of quarantine notices.


Jump in Queensland cases to total of 743

Queensland has seen an increase in the number of positive cases of Covid-19 overnight.

Another 55 people have been diagnosed and the state’s total is now 743:

65 are in hospital

7 are in intensive care

5 are on a ventilator.

That is an increase from 33 yesterday. But remember that can also be attributed to fewer tests being done at the weekend.


The ACCC has given medicine wholesalers permission to temporarily work together:

Wholesalers of medicines will be able to cooperate to facilitate distribution of essential medication and pharmacy products after being granted interim authorisation by the ACCC.

This follows an application by the National Pharmaceutical Services Association to enable businesses to coordinate the supply, inventory management, distribution, logistics and import of pharmaceuticals needed by consumers and hospitals.

“Allowing pharmacy wholesalers to work together to help make vital medicines accessible to everyone during this pandemic is clearly in the national interest,” the ACCC’s chair, Rod Sims, said.


The Australian Men’s Shed Association has gone online to reach members during isolation.


SA company to make PPE masks for healthcare workers

Steven Marshall says the South Australian company Detmold Packaging has committed to making PPE masks for healthcare workers.

This new deal will create 160 jobs in South Australia.

So, this is a win on every level. It is really utilising the great skills in manufacturing that we have in South Australia, not only for our own needs in South Australia but also nationally.

I personally believe this is the type of capability that we need to keep in this country, beyond this terrible coronavirus.

Too much of our manufacturing has moved offshore, and at a time like this you need to have it onshore.

What we will have going forward is a sovereign capability to produce the surgical masks that we need to keep South Australians and Australians protected.

The state government has put $1.5m to assist the company to purchase the machinery and tooling to get operations up within the next couple of months, before we hit that peak of the coronavirus here in Australia. We’ve also provided them with an order for 45m masks.

The Commonwealth Government has followed up with a further order of 100m masks. This is a great capability.


The NSW Nationals leader, John Barilaro, wants everyone to stay out of regional NSW these upcoming school holidays.

For the sake of regional NSW, stay home. #nswpol #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/pzJTcA0kRI

— John Barilaro MP (@JohnBarilaroMP) March 30, 2020


The Australian Academy of Science has released another video on Covid-19. This time, on precautions you can take.

Australian Academy of Science

Virgin Australia’s request for a $1.4bn loan from the government comes amid intense debate about how long it and other airlines can stay grounded before they run out of cash and follows heavy lobbying against a bailout for the airline from its rival Qantas.

The money would tide the airline over should the shutdown of the industry continue for many, many months.

Despite the mass stand-downs of staff – 28,000 in Australia across Qantas and Virgin – airlines continue to spend money while their fleets are on the ground, on things like maintenance and aircraft leasing.

According to industry sources, Virgin reckons it can last at least six months like this while Qantas estimates it has a year or more.

Taking full advantage of his rival’s relative weakness, the Qantas chief executive, Alan Joyce, has lobbied hard against any bailout for Virgin.

He sledged it as “badly managed for 10 years” and said the government shouldn’t support a largely foreign-owned airline, as well as saying that the coronavirus crisis created a “survival of the fittest” situation in the industry.

The attacks seem to have backfired because they prompted the Virgin chief executive, Paul Scurrah, to complain to the competition watchdog Rod Sims, who called on Qantas to cease the campaign and said Australia was “going to need two airlines” when the crisis ends.


Greens call for free flu shots

The Greens are calling for flu shots to be offered for free during the coronacrisis:

Ensuring everyone can access the flu vaccine for free is a clear step that will provide multiple benefits to the public and to our health system,” Richard Di Natale said.

This is a time-critical decision. We have a narrow window of time in which to act, before flu season hits and while there is time to get the required vaccines into the country.

People with the flu will be at significantly increased risk if they contract COVID-19, regardless of how healthy they may be, so first and foremost, this vaccine will protect them from possibly life-threatening illness.

This is even more important for people who we know are more vulnerable to this coronavirus.

He has written to Greg Hunt requesting that the government roll out a flu vaccine program.


Also a reminder that the income threshold for partners has increased:

Over the next six months the Government is temporarily expanding access to income support payments and establishing a Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight.

JobSeeker Payment is subject to a partner income test, and today the Government is temporarily relaxing the partner income test to ensure that an eligible person can receive the JobSeeker Payment, and associated Coronavirus Supplement, providing their partner earns less than $3,068 per fortnight, around $79,762 per annum.

The personal income test for individuals on JobSeeker Payment will still apply.


I am still getting questions about the jobkeeper wage subsidy.

You’ll find everything we know here:


Rex airlines suspends more services

The regional airline Rex is moving to suspend more of its services. It had still been flying in Queensland but this AAP report says that too will stop:

Regional Express (Rex) has declared a force majeure on its contract with the Queensland state government and will suspend all services in the state indefinitely.

The struggling airline on Tuesday announced its decision to cut services in the state as it could see no immediate “workable solution” with the Queensland government to agree on a reduced flight schedule that would be covered by freshly-announced federal assistance.

Rex had last week announced the cessation of passenger services in all states except Queensland, and flagged regional airlines could collapse because of plunging demand amid the crippling coronavirus pandemic.

It toned down that sentiment on Saturday while welcoming Canberra’s suite of COVID-19 airline rescue packages - including the $300 million Regional Aviation Rescue Initiative.

The airline declared it would now be able to scale back to a minimum essential service operation of one return weekly flight per route as a result of the assistance.

However, Rex on Tuesday said this reduced schedule proposal had been rejected by Queensland.

The airline will therefore indefinitely cut flights to destinations such as Brisbane, Cairns, Longreach, Mount Isa, Townsville, Towoomba - as well as a host of smaller locations.

“With cash fast running out and no immediate prospect of a workable solution ... Rex has no choice but to declare a Force Majeure event for the contract and suspend all services on Queensland regulated routes indefinitely until it has the ability to service the contract in a commercially viable manner,” Rex told the ASX.

The Queensland government has been approached for comment.

Affected Rex passengers will have their tickets placed on credit for when services resume.

Services on the remainder of Rex’s national network will continue on an essential services basis, subject to passenger numbers and support from local councils.

Frustrations over details and the timing of federal funds also appear to be bubbling over.

“No concrete details have been forthcoming and more importantly, not a single cent has been disbursed,” the airline said.


There are still hundreds of Australians stranded overseas.

I again urge the Australian Government to follow the lead of other countries in providing direct support to help bring stranded Australians home, including subsidised and assisted departures.

Let’s engage Qantas and Virgin in this national effort. https://t.co/Hhx193NPYw

— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) March 30, 2020


Virgin Australia has approached the government for a $1.4bn loan as part of a broader assistance package for the sector worth about $5bn.

The airline is now in a trading halt after a report about the loan proposal in this morning’s Australian.

Guardian Australia understands Virgin wrote to the Morrison government last week putting forward the proposal. While discussions are understood to have taken place, no agreement has been reached.


NSW pharmacists will be able to dispense some prescription medicines without a prescription as NSW seeks to keep people inside their homes.

That includes cutting down on trips to the doctor, which is one of the allowable “reasonable” exemptions for leaving the house.


Queensland and Western Australia have also put restrictions on firearms by not categorising the industry as “essential services”.

In WA, that resulted in this charming advertisement in the West Australian.

Premier McGowan has told the local shooting industry to “pull your heads in we’re in a state of emergency” regarding this ad in today’s @westaustralian. Says he will not be threatened by veiled threats #wapol pic.twitter.com/EUJqAJpZfJ

— Jenna Clarke (@jennamclarke) March 29, 2020


Victoria’s police minister, Lisa Neville, says a temporary ban on the purchase of firearms for recreational and sporting purposes is effective immediately. This will affect category A and B firearms and ammunition.

The deputy police commissioner Shane Patton says there has been a run on firearms and ammunition. In the last week there have been about 2,000 applications for firearms permits, more than double the state’s average. These permits will not be granted.

Neville says the government is worried about more guns entering the community during this crisis:

We are concerned about those figures, and we are also concerned about it being an incredibly stressful time for people. We know there are pressures around family violence and around work and people spending a lot of time together.

This will not affect those who require firearms for work, such as police officers or security guards.


AAP has reported on WA’s expected unemployment rate:

The unemployment rate in Western Australia is feared to reach 13 per cent with 100,000 people set to lose their jobs as a result of the coronavirus, according to data from the state’s peak business group.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA’s chief economist Aaron Morey has warned going forward to a full lockdown could increase the unemployment rate to 18 per cent, leaving about 180,000 people out of work.

“WA businesses are reflecting the largest fall in confidence on record, with 85 per cent impacted by plunging demand,” Mr Morey said.

“The $130 billion wage lifeline announced by the prime minister is an extraordinary step to protect Australian jobs and businesses.

“It will help to shield our businesses and workers against those job losses.”

Karen Andrews was asked about the Australian report that Virgin was seeking a $1.4bn bailout package on the ABC this morning:

Look, there are obviously a range of discussions with some pretty critical industries right across Australia and we’re going to be looking at what our sovereign capability is. Look, I don’t want to comment directly on Virgin or any discussions that may or may not be taking place. As I’ve said, our focus is very much on helping the Australians who have either lost their jobs or have reduced hours as a result of this pandemic that we’re experiencing.


Virgin airlines in trading halt

Virgin Australia has gone into a trading halt.


Norman Swan has a cold.

Alternative headline, Norman Swan does not have Covid-19.

After an interesting couple of days with flu like symptoms, worried about the innocent contacts who might have been close, there is good news: the test was negative. Not a licence to party. Distancing makes so much sense.

— Norman Swan (@normanswan) March 30, 2020


Victoria has also released its enforcement plan of the new restrictions.

It has put a sunset clause on the enforcement, setting it for midnight, 13 April, but that is subject to change, depending on how the flattening-the-curve race is going.

Victoria is going as hard as NSW, including limiting who can go over to your house. It’s ... a lot.

You’ll find all the restrictions here.

Victorian rules make clear you can get fined now if you even invite one person over, but you can enter an indoor space if no other person is in that space except if there's one person in that space, or all the people in that space reside in that space.... pic.twitter.com/gPq72gsnid

— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) March 30, 2020


Parliament will be recalled

Parliament does have to be recalled to legislate parts of the $130bn wage subsidy plan.

I wouldn’t expect that for at least a week – the legislation has to be created first, and the government wants to chat to stakeholders, to make sure it is workable. Plus, it is a little tricky in making sure the money does go to employees – which will be a legal requirement.


Anthony Albanese was also asked about the future of the budget while talking to Sabra Lane on ABC radio this morning:

Look, this is an investment in the future. What we need to do is to make sure that the economy’s in a position to come out of this downturn with strength. And the way that you do that is by keeping a relationship between a worker and their employer.

The publican from Tamworth was just giving an example of how important that is. What this policy will do is ensure that can continue into the future, which will mean that the startup costs, the costs of capital, the costs of training, the human costs will be far less than if we just continue to see people losing their job by the thousands day after day that we’ve seen in the last week.

He says Labor will continue to offer “constructive” suggestions on efforts the government could be making, and won’t stand in the way of stimulus measures.


The first of the coronavirus payments – $750 for those eligible – will begin hitting bank accounts today.

Stuart “My Bad” Robert has this release:

Over $1.1bn in Australian government assistance for lower-income Australians will hit bank accounts today.

Minister for government services, Stuart Robert, said the first round of the $750 economic support payments will be paid automatically from today and progressively to eligible recipients over the coming weeks.

“From today, more than 6.8 million Australians will receive the first economic support payment,” Minister Robert said.

“The payment is providing immediate support to lower-income Australians, including pensioners, other social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.

“There’s no need to do anything to receive the economic support payment – it will be paid automatically to anyone receiving an eligible payment or concession between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020.”

The total first stimulus package is expected to deliver $4.8bn to households through the economic support payment. It is part of the Australian government’s $320bn economic support package for the coronavirus pandemic.

A second economic support payment will be paid to eligible people from 13 July 2020.

More information about support being provided by the Australian government during the coronavirus pandemic can be found at www.australia.gov.au.


There have also been questions in Tasmania about how it is handling shared custody.

The advice on that from Peter Gutwein is:

I want to clarify that the courts expect that parents will comply with shared parenting arrangements and family court orders, but note that:

  1. If it is impossible to comply in these challenging times, remain calm, reasonable and sensible in trying to reach a compromise;
  2. If you can reach a compromise, put it in writing;
  3. There are services that can help you mediate;
  4. If not, the courts are open to hear cases electronically.

While measures put in place by the Tasmanian government to protect the community do restrict some movement, it is vital that parents act in the best interests of their children.


Peter Gutwein says he has had a lot of questions about love in the time of coronavirus.

He is a little uncomfortable but says it is up to people in the relationship:

In fact, one query came in from a number of people last night.

That both own a property or both are living in certain properties. Are they allowed to stay at each other’s property overnight? I never thought that I’d be extending it to people’s love lives in this particular way but I just want to say, utilise common sense. Utilise common sense.


Tasmania has recorded its second death

Peter Gutwein, the Tasmanian premier, says a second person, a man, died overnight, bringing the state’s total to two.

This is a very sad time. This is two deaths in Tasmania, two deaths too many, and it serves as a warning to us all that these are going to be tough and difficult times and we must all do our part to keep Tasmania safe.

That brings Australia’s death toll to 19.


There have been some questions from people who have been stood down from their job this month, as part of the mass layoffs we have seen, about what they should do about their jobseeker (Centrelink) application now that the government has announced the wage subsidy.

The Treasury factsheets contain this very example:

Phoebe works in administration services of a large retail company as a permanent full-time employee, but she has been stood down under the Fair Work Act without pay.

Phoebe had registered an intent to claim with Services Australia for access to the JobSeeker Payment and the Coronavirus Supplement.

Phoebe is single, with no children and in total she would be eligible to receive $1,124.50 before tax per fortnight from Services Australia.

Phoebe’s employer has decided to apply for the JobKeeper Payment for all its eligible employees for up to six months.

This would entitle Phoebe to $1,500 per fortnight before tax.

Phoebe’s employer is required to advise her that she has been nominated as an eligible employee to receive the payment.

If Phoebe elects to receive income support though Services Australia, she will need to report her income from the JobKeeper Payment to Services Australia.

Phoebe may no longer be eligible for income support from Services Australia as a result of receiving the JobKeeper Payment.

So if you have lost your job, keep your Centrelink application in. If your employer has registered for the jobkeeper wage subsidy, you will be told – and then, if eligible, you can decide which way you want to go.


The NSW police commissioner, Mick Fuller, also revealed in that press conference that the nine cruise ships in the state’s waters had been formally warned that they needed to return to their ports of origin.

Fuller said he will have a phone hook-up later today with the Border Force commissioner, the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, and the NSW police minister, David Elliott, to find a way to put more pressure on the ships to leave.

He said NSW authorities were helping people onboard who are sick, pregnant or otherwise have urgent needs.

“At the end of the day, they’ve been issued an order by the federal government and I’ve got a meeting with minister Peter Dutton, commissioner Mike Outram, and police minister Elliott, to put some more pressure on them to go,” Fuller said.

“We are working together and I am sure we will get a good outcome over the next couple of days, ships will continue to leave sensibly, if people need medical assistance we will provide that.”


But for the first time, we have some idea of what could lead to a stage 4 lockdown.

In the midst of the latest national cabinet statement was the national baseline restrictions, which laid out publicly what the cabinet would consider the triggers for another set of restrictions:

Following agreement of a national baseline for social distancing and business restrictions, national cabinet agreed to adopt the advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) that:

    • Supports the long-term nationwide maintenance and enforcement of the restrictions currently in place;
    • Local circumstances may prompt states and territories to introduce additional measures for a period to further control community transmission; and
    • Local decisions should be on the advice of the local chief health officer informed by the local epidemiology at the time.

The factors influencing such a recommendation include consideration of:

    • the overall number of new cases, and particularly the rate of change
    • the proportion of locally acquired cases without known links to other cases
    • multiple outbreaks in vulnerable populations, including remote Indigenous communities and residential aged care facilities
    • capacity of laboratory testing and the health system to respond to current and predicted load.


Things should be a little quieter in Canberra today, in terms of measures.

The national cabinet statement last night didn’t really include any new measures, and for anyone waiting to see what the actual answers are for the rental issue, you will have to wait until Friday, when it meets again. Same with childcare.

Commercial and residential tenancies

National cabinet agreed to consider advice from treasurers on commercial and residential tenancies at their next meeting on Friday 3 April.

Early childhood and childcare

Previous advice on schools has not changed. National cabinet agreed to consider arrangements for early childhood and childcare facilities at their next meeting on Friday 3 April.


Just at the tail end of that NSW press conference, the police commissioner, Mick Fuller, said he “won’t hesitate” to ask for new powers to punish people for deliberately spitting and coughing on other, if such behaviour continues.

It follows vision that emerged yesterday of a woman allegedly coughing and spitting on police in Sydney, while claiming she was on her way to be tested for Covid-19. “Anyone who watched that video would surely have been disappointed,” Fuller said.

“If we see continual incline of people spitting and coughing on people then I won’t hesitate to ask for powers around ... maybe it’s a $5,000 fine will sharpen people up on this.”

He also warned cruise ships that they should return to their point of origin, and said NSW was not the destination for the world’s stranded cruise ships.

Fuller warned people not to travel to their coast houses but said if they’ve already done so they should stay there:

If everybody floods the south coast and the north coast, and the virus spreads, the health system is not designed to manage that. And of course the locals are concerned as well that they’re listening to self-isolation, they’re following the rules, I think we’ve got to be in this together.


As of 8am today, over 113,000 Australian businesses have registered their interest in the new #JobKeeper wage subsidy of $1500 per fortnight for each employee. Our $130 billion plan is all about keeping Australians in jobs while we deal with this #coronavirus crisis.

— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) March 30, 2020

The UK press reported a few days ago that Virgin Atlantic would be seeking a bailout, asking the government to step in and keep it afloat – and now it looks like Virgin Australia is also looking to be partly nationalised.

The Australian reports Virgin Australia is seeking $1.4bn from the government after standing down 90% of its workforce and grounding most of its fleet.


The 2020 Olympics will now start on 23 July 2021.

All the uniforms and merchandise has been made up, so it will still be the 2020 Tokyo games. Just held in 2021.


Oh and NSW police arrested five people yesterday, and seized 200kg of cocaine.

The world continues to turn.

On the issue of the (small) Bondi cluster Dr Kerry Chant says increased testing will be carried out, to ensure rates of community transmission aren’t increasing.

We have had a small number of cases in that community where there aren’t obvious links, but a plausible explanation is they have come into contact with an infected backpacker before that backpacker was aware they had COVID-19.

Out of an abundance of caution we want to increase testing rates and introduce some pop-ups to increase our testing. That will assure ourselves of the extent of community transmission. As I said, the aim of that is if we can rapidly identify cases, we can then identify the contacts of those cases, and prevent any onward transmission in the community.

And what are some of the reasons numbers of transmissions in Australia are down?

There is the factor of the weekend. So there’s the weekend effect that, obviously, the access to general practitioners over the weekend may have accounted for it.

I suppose I’m just very cautious in interpreting the numbers because I know that whenever I interpret a number, it has to be interpreted in the context of the testing rates.

But I’m urging increased testing and particularly aligned to active clusters and community transmission.

Pleasingly, we have got that capacity. But as I would say, it is not finite, infinite capacity and I am asking that doctors are responsible in their approach to testing. We have testing lab capacity to increase the testing.

I understand that any backlog in testing has been processed. So we are in a position that I can go out and ask for increased community testing.

But as I said, it has to be proportionate and a reasonable increase because it is important that we manage our testing assets and our pathology tests prudently. But we are also looking at a range of new testing strategies and bringing them online in future weeks.


Now the NSW police commissioner, Mick Fuller, is up.

He says NSW police have issued 13 fines since the public health directives came down.

Last night we saw the New South Wales Health Act give police additional powers around restricting the movement of people, sensibly, particularly in public places. Now we know that any more than two people out, you will get a fine.

What does that mean? It means that if you need to exercise, we get it – go for a walk, sensibly, on your own.

You can still meet a personal trainer if you have to. The reality is, if you need to go to the shops to get some food, absolutely acceptable. If you need to go to the chemist or see your GP, all of these things are absolutely acceptable.

But the reality is the messaging that the premier and chief health officer that had been given over the last weeks and months has not been getting through to some people. What does that mean? It means that the virus continues to spread, puts people’s lives at risk, puts the health system under pressure.

So as of today, police will continue to be out there, working with the community, but we will be engaging in terms of people who are acting outside of what the health warnings are.

Fuller says the five police officers who have tested positive all contracted the virus overseas.


NSW now has a 2,032 confirmed cases of the virus, which is an increase of 114 people since yesterday.

The NSW chief medical officer, Dr Kerry Chant, gives a little more detail on those numbers, and why it looks like transmissions are down:

We have seen a decline in testing numbers and, hence, today I’m really urging that we increase the testing particularly in areas where there’s community transmission or around clusters.

That’s to ensure ourselves that we have identified as many cases as possible in the community.

It’s important to know that case detection, us finding those cases, early and then quarantining, isolating cases and quarantining – that’s putting them in home isolation, the cases around that confirmed case – are important strategies for preventing onward transmission in the community.

This important public health measure complements the social distancing strategies that the government have put in place. But the contract tracing by identifying these cases early in the community and identifying contacts of cases is an important public health measure that we will need to continue with throughout this pandemic, as the community spread occurs.

In addition, I can report that there’s eight deaths in New South Wales and there’s currently 164 cases being treated in NSW hospitals including 35 cases in our intensive care units.

Of those 35, 16 require ventilators.


Gladys Berejiklian:

It is too early to make the assessment that we’ve spread the curve. While the number of cases have stabilised there are a number of reasons for that. What is concern to all of us is that unknown level of community transmission that you might people up if people don’t have symptoms.

That’s the real threat – people walking around without symptoms while they have this disease. That’s why it is important to assume that they have it, and to act like they have it.


Covid-19 cluster in Bondi

Gladys Berejiklian is holding her morning press conference. The NSW premier says there have been signs of community transmission of Covid-19 in Waverley and Bondi and it is way too early to say the state is beating the curve and reduce any restrictions.

She talks about why NSW has stepped up its enforcement:

Do not leave your home unless you absolutely have to.

Do not gather more than two people outside or inside your home apart from your family and make sure you take every social distancing precautions when you’re out and about.

This is important because we know the number of cases in New South Wales are increasing. The number of cases acquired through community transmission is increasing.

It is really important for us, at this stage of the virus, for us to maintain that level of control and containment as much as possible. We want to see fewer people have to go to hospital. We want to see fewer people die.

But we know, unfortunately, as has happened around the world, that the cases will continue to increase and the more we can slow it down, the better it is for all of us and the more lives that we will save.


It is amazing the difference a week makes.

From Katharine Murphy:

Australians are becoming more anxious about the threat of the coronavirus, with 53% of the latest Guardian Essential poll sample saying they are now very concerned, which is a 14-point increase in only a week.

While one-third of people in last week’s poll declared there was an overreaction to the threat of Covid-19, the number of people nominating themselves in the sanguine category halved this week. Last week 33% of the sample had that view. This week that’s down to 18%.

While a substantial number of people in last week’s sample were apparently unmoved by the evidence of rising numbers of infections, and a growing number of fatalities, 28% of the sample of 1,086 voters held the opposite view. They worried the threat of Covid-19 had been under-estimated by the community and by government. This week, that number has risen to 43%.


In the background of the stimulus measures is the change to superannuation – allowing Australians to draw down on $10,000 of their retirement savings in this financial year, (as well as the next) if they find themselves in financial difficult due to the coronacrisis.

But many super funds have taken a right thrashing on the stock marketas the crisis unfolds across the globe, and there are fears that if too many withdraw cash, the sector could find itself in real trouble (that is not counting the generational damage done for people on the other end when they want to retire)

Ben Butler has this story on what is going on behind the scenes:

The Reserve Bank has been quietly working out ways it could establish a government-backed facility to help superannuation funds pay redemptions allowed under new rules to deal with the coronavirus crisis, even though the idea has so far been rejected by the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.

Guardian Australia has learned that RBA staff have been working out how much could be drawn out of the super system under the new rules, which funds are likely to be hardest hit by withdrawal requests and what can be done about the problem.

The RBA’s backroom work has been going on amid a political debate about super’s ability to deal with the drawdowns, which some in the sector fear will force funds to sell assets during one of the worst market routs in a century.


Sam Neill’s social media accounts are still some of the most wholesome content on the internet.

He’s in isolation, like everyone, and going a little stir crazy.

HOW ARE YOU TODAY ? I’m sending all of you my best ... just a few words of support - and talking about BIRDS ... and how much pleasure I get from them ... well, more fulsomely on https://t.co/LPr4P9ZfcN pic.twitter.com/B6cZSqmFBR

— Sam Neill (@TwoPaddocks) March 29, 2020


Labor’s shadow treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said Labor remains supportive of the government’s stimulus measures and was working with the government to legislate them as soon as possible.

The jobkeeper subsidy won’t start flowing to employers until May. That’s to give time for the legislation to be drafted (about a week under current indications) and then for parliament to be recalled, the bill to be ratified and then the ATO to set up the payment arrangements.

Chalmers spoke to the ABC this morning, and was asked about Australia’s budget future, given the hundreds of billions being spent:

I think we’re headed for a generation of debt, unfortunately.

The thing that people probably don’t perfectly appreciate is that debt had already more than doubled over the last six or seven years, and so we already had an issue with debt in our budget. And now clearly that’s going to skyrocket.

But the most pressing priority is that we support workers and businesses and communities and families and pensioners through this difficult period.

That will come with a big price tag, already something like $213bn or $214bn in direct stimulus. That’s appropriate.

We have been supportive of that. But one of the consequences of this is we will be saddled as a generation with debt.


The reasonable excuses as outlined in the new direction are also pretty limited. Travelling to a regional area for example, if you don’t live there, or have any business there, just became illegal in NSW for the duration of this crisis:

1 Obtaining food or other goods or services for the personal needs of the household or other household purposes (including for pets) and for vulnerable persons.

2 Travelling for the purposes of work if the person cannot work from the person’s place of residence.

3 Travelling for the purposes of attending childcare (including picking up or dropping another person at childcare).

4 Travelling for the purposes of facilitating attendance at a school or other educational institution if the person attending the school or institution cannot learn from the person’s place of residence.

5 Exercising.

6 Obtaining medical care or supplies or health supplies or fulfilling carer’s responsibilities.

7 Attending a wedding or a funeral in the circumstances referred to in clause 6(2)(d) and (e) or 7(1)(h).

8 Moving to a new place of residence (including a business moving to new premises) or between different places of residence of the person or inspecting a potential new place of residence.

9 Providing care or assistance (including personal care) to a vulnerable person or providing emergency assistance.

10 Donating blood.

11 Undertaking any legal obligations.

12 Accessing public services (whether provided by government, a private provider or a non-government organisation), including – (a) social services, and (b) employment services, and (c) domestic violence services, and (d) mental health services, and (e) services provided to victims (including as victims of crime).

13 For children who do not live in the same household as their parents or siblings or one of their parents or siblings – continuing existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children or siblings.

14 For a person who is a priest, minister of religion or member of a religious order – going to the person’s place of worship or providing pastoral care to another person.

15 Avoiding injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.

16 for emergencies or compassionate reasons.


The direction details can be found in the NSW Gazette – each jurisdiction has its own gazette, where governments list regulation changes. Hardly anyone reads it, but it is usually full of little bits and pieces of information and changes.

Definitions (1) In this Order:

Household means any persons living together in the same place of residence. Indoor space means an area, room or other premises that is or are substantially enclosed by a roof and walls, regardless of whether the roof or walls or any part of the roof or walls are – (a) permanent or temporary, or (b) open or closed.

Note. The Public Health Act 2010 defines premises to include any land, temporary structure, vehicle or vessel. Outdoor space means a space that is not an indoor space.

Parent, in relation to a child, includes a person who is not a parent of the child, but who has parental responsibility for, or who has care of, the child.

Place of residence includes the premises where a person lives together with any garden, yard, passage, stairs, garage, outhouse or other area or thing attached to, or used in connection with, the premises.

Public place has the same meaning as in the Summary Offences Act 1988.

The Act means the Public Health Act 2010. Work includes work done as a volunteer or for a charitable organisation.

Note: The Act and the Interpretation Act 1987 contain definitions and other provisions that affect the interpretation and application of this Order


This is the order the NSW health minister Brad Hazzard signed overnight.

And the Orders require that you must not travel for work or education unless you cannot do it at home . @NSWHealth https://t.co/nCJzzjDoNp

— Brad Hazzard (@BradHazzard) March 30, 2020


Good morning

After the big announcement late yesterday of the $130bn six-month “jobkeeper” wage subsidy, today should be a little quieter.

Should be.

Late last night the NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, signed one of the most strict ministerial directions yet, with fines of $11,000 if someone is caught outside their house without a “reasonable” excuse. Reasonable is essential grocery shopping, exercise, a medical reason, compassionate grounds, or work or education which can not be done in the house.

It’s pretty draconian. We’ll bring you more on that, and everything else as it comes. We’ll do our best to clarify everything we’ve heard so far – it can be a little tough to make sense of everything immediately but we’ll bring you the updates as soon as we can.

Let’s get started.



Luke Henriques-Gomes and Amy Remeikis

The GuardianTramp

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