Following yet another late-night meeting with the national cabinet, Scott Morrison has outlined a range of new shutdowns agreed to by federal and state leaders, which, among other measures, includes bans on the following from midnight tonight:
- Australians travelling overseas;
- Galleries, libraries and community facilities;
- Indoor and outdoor play areas;
- Food courts, except for takeaway and delivery;
- Places of worship, with the exception of five people per wedding and 10 people per funeral; and
- Hairdressers, with the exception of 30-minute appointments observing the 1 person per 4 square metre rule.
Morrison advised the public to “stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary you go out”, the ABC reports, and said the government will take action to prevent exploitative price gouging and the exporting of essential products.
FUN FACT: It is not — barring a hedge-trimmer-type situation — technically possible to perform a haircut outside another person’s 4 square metres.
NSW PASSES EMERGENCY LAWS
- Enabling the Corrective Services commissioner to grant conditional parole to certain offenders — subject to public and victim safety considerations — before their non-parole period;
- Empowering police to arrest people reasonably suspected of breaking public health orders — and either return them home or put them in detention (writer’s note: as that first measure acknowledges, detention is maybe the worst place to put someone at risk of infection);
- Amending planning laws to allow developments that protect health, welfare and safety during the pandemic — notably COVID-19 clinics — to proceed without normal development approvals; and
- Enabling flexibility among court issues, such as judge-alone trials, a greater use of recordings, and appearances and evidence via video link.
Additionally, as Greens MP Jenny Leong announced on Twitter, the government accepted an amendment that immediately empowers ministers to protect NSW renters from eviction and introduce other relief measures for residential and commercial tenancies.
NZ ASKS FOR ENTITLEMENT EXTENSION
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has asked Morrison to temporarily change the rules to allow freshly laid-off New Zealanders living here access to unemployment benefits, The Guardian reports.
Ardern’s message, which came before the internal flight ban was announced, comes as the ABC warns of uncertainty for international students and people on work visas, and after The Australian ($) reported yesterday morning that the Coalition is working on new welfare options for non-citizens.
WHY HELLO AGAIN, RUBY PRINCESS
According to The Australian ($), NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told attendees of a confidential partyroom meeting that the Australian Border Force is responsible for the decision to release 2700 passengers from the Ruby Princess cruise ship and should wear the blame for the unfolding contagion — which, as of yesterday, has seen one 70-year-old female passenger die from the virus.
LAW OF THE SEA: Shine Lawyers has since received enquiries from passengers and is currently investigating avenues to bring claims over illness and damage suffered, The Daily Telegraph ($) reports.
OLYMPICS OFFICIALLY POSTPONED
The International Olympic Committee has announced the Tokyo Olympics will be postponed until 2021, following an earlier request from Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to the ABC.
SPORTS CALL: Concurrently, Australia’s seven major sports bodies — the AFL, NRL, Rugby Australia, Cricket Australia, Football Federation Australia, Netball Australia and Tennis Australia — have, according to The Age, united behind a push for government assistance throughout the crisis.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
After falsely claiming myGov had been hit by a cyber attack, the government services minister concedes he did not realise “the sheer scale of the decision on Sunday night by the national leaders, that literally saw hundreds and hundreds of thousands, maybe a million people, unemployed overnight” might mean more than 55,000 site visits.
“The Centrelink lines are going round the block, the government has made vague announcements of rent assistance, twitter buzzes with notes from the newly laid-off wondering how they’ll put food on the table and pay the rent and the mortgage.”
“In the days and weeks ahead, a failed website will end up being a footnote to the unfolding crisis, but it’s a telling example of how governments — not this government, the Morrison government, particularly, but all governments — have stripped themselves of the ability to serve communities, driven by the broad agenda of contestability, outsourcing, corporatisation and privatisation over the last thirty years.”
“The coronavirus could decimate Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with public health experts warning there hasn’t been a health risk this severe since the early days of colonisation. Crikey examines why indigenous Australians are especially at risk.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Coronavirus: Sidelining parliament is not healthy for democracies ($) — Dennis Shanahan (The Australian): “A day after the ‘national unity’ sitting of federal parliament and the passing of a $60bn stimulus and the essential money bills to run the nation, there are legitimate concerns about suspension of the House of Representatives until August.”
Rupert Murdoch’s Foxtel could become a sports casualty — Elizabeth Knight (The Age): “Take a look at Netflix if you want some relief from the sea of red in share performances. Over the past week in particular it has performed strongly – up 16 per cent. Take a look at the stock prices of US cable companies and the trajectory has moved in the opposite direction.”
Bastard Pandemic v. Bastards — Scott Ludlam (Meanjin): “A crisis has its own way of focusing our minds on what matters and what doesn’t. It still feels like such early days and who knows what’s over the edge of this thing, really, but our relationships, our politics, our infrastructure—everything—is facing a stress test unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Julian Assange will apply for bail, citing risks of the pandemic in prison.