STRICTER CROWD CONTROL

Following back-to-back meetings with the National Security Committee and the national cabinet late last night, Scott Morrison is expected to announce bans on over-100 crowds across pubs, cinemas and restaurants, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

As 97,000 new testing kits start to arrive in Australia, the ABC reports Morrison has also spoken with chief medical officers on potential measures to protect people in aged-care homes and remote Indigenous communities.

ON THE LATTER: Labor has called for a suspension of mutual obligations for the Indigenous-focused community development program, as The Guardian reports people are still being expected to attend group activities.

EMERGENCY LANDING

The Morrison government will today announce $715 million in waived domestic fees for the airline industry, according to the ABC, in just one plank of another coronavirus relief package set to prioritise the tourism and hospitality sectors.

The announcement, which follows both NSW’s and Tasmania’s state stimulus packages, comes as regional airline REX warns of just “weeks of reserves”, Qantas and Jetstar slash 90% of their international flights, and DFAT calls for any Australians abroad wanting to come home to do so ASAP ahead of potential border closures.

IN RELATED NEWS: The similarly devastated arts industry has called for an $850 million package, while the airlines’ American counterparts aim for a cool $50 billion.

VIRUS WATCH

  • Spain has nationalised its private healthcare system as the country goes into lockdown (Business Insider), while Italy plans to renationalise airline Alitalia (The Local).
  • The EU is preparing for an imminent travel ban (The Guardian), as France joins Spain and Italy in national lockdown, and the UK dumps the discredited “herd immunity” policy for months of quarantine measures (The Guardian).
  • Iran has briefly released 85,000 prisoners due to pressure on the jail system (Al Jazeera).
  • Despite receiving next to no media attention, the virus currently poses a massive threat to African nations with high population densities, relatively weak healthcare systems, and over-representations of infectious diseases (Science).

NEW ZEALAND’S $12.1 BILLION PACKAGE

Across the pond, New Zealand has dwarfed Australia with a $12.1 billion package aimed at healthcare capacity, businesses, seniors and low-income families, and people who cannot work during isolation. That’s roughly 4% of its GDP to Australia’s <1%, according to The Conversation.

AND ALSO: The country does get a slight win out of the crisis, with Newshub reporting the Australian Border Force has suspended its controversial New Zealand deportation scheme.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

If panic buying or cooking isn’t your thing, caterers have had their businesses slow down/come to a screeching halt as events are cancelled. Perhaps give a catering company a call & see if they’ll do meals for you to have at home?

Hollie Hughes

After managing to get “Marie Antoinette” trending on Twitter, the Liberal senator goes on to argue with critics in just absolute good faith.

CRIKEY RECAP

Does Australia have enough hospital beds for the worst-case scenario?

“With officials estimating up to 150,000 Australians could die from the coronavirus under the government’s worst case scenario, does Australia have enough hospital beds to care for a rise in patients?”


Australia can afford a $100 billion stimulus, and we may need it

“Mere days after announcing a substantial stimulus package, the government is quickly working on another fiscal stimulus announcement, reflecting a clearer understanding that the virus crisis is going to inflict far more serious economic damage than we feared last week.”


A fine mess: what defying quarantine orders could cost you

“If you’re returning from abroad or have been in contact with an infected person, it’s time to lock your doors. Depending on where you live, you could be slapped with a fine in the tens of thousands for disobeying quarantine orders.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Health chiefs warn population to stay away from hospitals unless it’s urgent

Coronavirus school closures: dozens of Australian private schools move to online learning

Budget deficit could hit $100 billion as virus recession risk grows

Victoria lifts moratorium on onshore gas, but permanently bans fracking

Coronavirus ban: more than 100 Australian doctors and dentists stuck on cruise ship off Chile

 

THE COMMENTARIAT

The coronavirus looks less deadly than first reported, but it’s definitely not ‘just a flu’Mike Lee and Sebastian Duchene (The Conversation): “The avalanche of coronavirus infections in the current pandemic has been accompanied by a similar avalanche of information, making it hard to sift reliable news from the noise. Among the most crucial questions is: how deadly is the SARS-CoV-2 virus?”

‘Rotten. Shameful’: Surely no one can now ignore the abuses of the SASNick McKenzie and Chris Masters (The Sydney Morning Herald): “No Australian could now credibly deny that a small number of our special forces soldiers committed executions of Afghans, such was the power of a video obtained by Four Corners and broadcast on Monday night.”

In this time of crisis, we must unite to protect the frail ($) — Rita Panahi (The Herald-Sun): “Times of crisis bring out the best and worst in mankind. Recently we’ve seen people brawling over toilet paper and supermarket shelves stripped of essential items. Some, including the elderly and infirm, are going without while others selfishly stockpile.”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Three medical experts, professor Jodie McVernon, associated professor Kamalina Lokuge and associate professor Vanessa Johnston, will discuss the coronavirus at the National Press Club.