OUR WAR FOOTING PHASE
Australia has entered a “war footing” phase of the coronavirus outbreak, a senior government official told The Australian ($), as the country mandates 14-day self-isolation for all international arrivals, and cabinet prepares to consider visitor restrictions at aged-care homes and even school shutdowns.
Following Australia’s fifth confirmed COVID-19-related death, the ABC reports, from today, bans also extend to non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people — including school assemblies and sporting and music events — and prevent international cruise ships from docking over the next 30 days. Handshakes, and coming in 1.5-metre proximity of another person, has also been discouraged.
PS: In possibly related news, Scott Morrison has come out ahead of Anthony Albanese in his first Newspoll ($) win since the bushfire crisis.
EVERYTHING WILL BE FINED
State governments and police will take responsibility for enforcing penalties over the new quarantine rules, with Morrison encouraging a “dob in” your mate system, and Pedestrian.TV reporting that, under existing rules, fines for breaching public health orders carry wildly different penalties according to state.
- Victoria: $6,400
- Tasmania: $8,400
- Queensland: $13,345
- South Australia: $25,000
- NSW: $11,000 and six months’ jail
- WA: $50,000 and 12 months’ jail
South Australia, meanwhile, has officially declared a public health emergency, the ABC reports.
CALLS FOR A DISABILITY CARE PACKAGE
Leading health and disability researchers have called on federal and state governments to enact a targeted response for the disability sector akin to their aged care package.
Noting a horrific report of a Chinese teenager with cerebral palsy dying of starvation after his brother and father were quarantined, the group has issued 20 recommendations directed at people with a disability and the service sector’s “precariously employed and inadequately trained care workforce”.
IN RELATED NEWS: Croakey has unpacked an urgent need to target resources towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, complete with a wariness of triage precedents — for example, utilitarianism at Italian ICUs.
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In sports news, The Sydney Morning Herald reports senior AFL officials have expressed concerns about the season ahead of a full day of teleconferenced briefings, Cameron Smith wants the 2020 NRL season suspended, and the Wellington Phoenix have, effectively, been forced to move to Australia for the remainder of their A-League campaign.
And on the cultural end, The Age reports major hubs across Melbourne, including the State Library, National Gallery and Museum Victoria sites, will close from today for at least a month. Amid mass event cancellations, the live performance industry has called for a rescue package to prevent industry collapse.
TRUMP REPORTEDLY MAKES GRAB FOR VACCINE
Finally, according to The Guardian citing local German newspaper Die Welt, the Trump administration has offered German medical company CureVac large sums of money to gain exclusive access to a potential COVID-19 vaccine; allegedly, to the chagrin of the German government, “for the US only”.
FOR CONTEXT: As NASDAQ reports, CureVac hopes to have an experimental vaccine ready by June or July, before seeking permission from regulators for testing on humans.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
This is your economy on socialism.
The IPA’s policy director, sharing four haunting photographs of aisles struck by panic-buying, sticks it to that bastion of lefty pinko commie ideology, Woolworths Australia.
“Scott Morrison announced his government’s substantial stimulus package at 10.30am, and what had been a falling market stabilised. Here was some economic leadership at last from a government that has point blank refused to lead at all since Morrison became prime minister.
“Then Donald Trump commenced his evening address to Americans at 12 noon Australian time, and a market that had begun to recover fell off a cliff, losing 400 points over the next hour, ending the day down 7.4%. Overnight, it fell another 384 points on the futures market.”
“‘Flatten the curve’ is the mantra being recited around the world, urging everyone to help slow the spread of the coronavirus so healthcare systems can cope. Australia has had the benefit of learning from nations already affected. We know the virus responds extremely well to public health measures like social distancing and quarantining.”
“The Grand Prix is cancelled, but no thanks to a quick-thinking Victorian government. The decision was ultimately made by the race’s corporate backers, raising questions about the government’s reluctance to pull the plug — even as team members expressed an unwillingness to race and were being dragged off for testing for the deadly coronavirus.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
The measure of success, PM, will be saving as many lives as possible — Sean Kelly (The Sydney Morning Herald): “When we’re told the government has received advice, we must be told the reasons behind that advice. And not just some reasons – the actual reasons. For example, we keep hearing that this or that response is “proportionate”. You might as well tell us a decision is “reasonable”. It’s gibberish. Tell us what’s actually going on.”
Brace for the financial contagion long after coronavirus crisis has passed ($) — Chris Mitchell (The Australian): “The national broadcaster always seems to support more government spending but seldom surpluses. Yet without the budget repair of the past few years, often sneered at by Labor leader Anthony Albanese and Treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers, Australia would not have been as well placed to respond to the coronavirus economic slowdown with the well-targeted package announced last Thursday.”
America is a sham — Dan Kois (Slate): “Maybe it will be the hand sanitizer that finally exposes the sham. The Transportation Security Administration announced Friday that due to the coronavirus outbreak, they’re waiving the familiar four-ounce limit for liquids and gels—for hand sanitizer only.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Public hearings will be held for an inquiry into road transport systems and an inquiry into the sports rorts scandal. (Note: PM&C’s Phil Gaetjens was set to appear for the latter, but has cancelled, amid work relating to the virus outbreak.)
Public hearings will be held for an inquiry into the 2019 federal election.
A “Stop Adani” rally will be held outside the company’s insurance broker Marsh.