The AFL has made a huge call on the 2020 AFL season.
Round 1 will begin tomorrow night at the MCG, with Richmond and Carlton set to open the season in front of an empty MCG.
The league held off on making the almost impossible decision, delaying a call yesterday after a mass meeting of AFL players on Monday backed the season starting on time.
After a commission meeting that started at 1pm on Wednesday, the decision to play on was revealed just before 7.45pm.
The coronavirus outbreak has rocked world sport with many competitions calling off matches and several AFL players — including Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury — tested. So far none have tested positive.
AUSSIES STRANDED OVERSEAS
Aussies travelling in Peru and other South American countries are pleading for government intervention to get them home, after tough new border restrictions left them stranded.
Mordialloc couple Millie Campion, 23, and Patrick Larkin, 24, are among hundreds of travellers trapped in hotel rooms in Peru after its borders closed on Sunday.
Ms Campion said they were allowed to leave their room in Lima to get essentials but were otherwise confined for 15 days.
“There’s police outside in the street most of the time, they ask everyone what they’re doing and where they’re going and there’s a constant patrol,” Ms Campion said.
“It’s totally dead out on the street, it’s a ghost town.”
The couple were in Ecuador on Saturday, on a once-in-a-life-time trip across the United States and Latin America, when the Andean nation closed its borders.
After a frantic scramble to get to the airport they had booked tickets home to Melbourne, stopping in Peru and Chile.
But when their flight to Santiago was overbooked, they became stranded as Peru’s own travel bans came into effect.
“The airport was chaos, I’ve never seen anything like it. We spent the next 24 hours in the airport trying frantically to get on any flight but we couldn’t, so we had to go find accommodation,” Ms Campion said.
Staff deliver meals to their door as they can’t go in common areas, and at night only neighbourhood-wide bouts of clapping breaks the silence.
They’ve heard it’s mass applause for health care workers on the front line of the crisis.
Apart from talking to their neighbours through a window, they’ve had no real contact with anyone.
“Yesterday I was all doom and gloom but now I’m like I have to be proactive to get out of here,” Ms Campion said.
They and nearly a hundred other Australians stuck in Peru have connected over Facebook to call on the government to stage a rescue.
“There must be thousands of Australians in the same position as us, please just get us on a plane out of here,” she said.
“The whole health care system is a concern. I’m worried that Peru is going to continue to keep its borders closed.”
RESCUE PACKAGE FLAGGED
Premier Daniel Andrews has flagged his government will embark on unprecedented bailouts for businesses that could include “emergency capital” to keep them afloat until the coronavirus crisis subsides.
Mr Andrews said “we are fast getting beyond stimulus and we are getting towards survival payments”.
He said he understood the urgency of the situation but his Cabinet wanted to create a considered package.
“Stimulus is very important but I think there’s a big difference between trying to encourage people to spend and helping people and businesses to fundamentally survive,” he said.
“I think we are fast getting beyond stimulus and we are getting towards survival payments and a survival package.
“We have many businesses who have zero income, so offering them a tax cut doesn’t necessarily do it.
“If we want to avoid them collapsing altogether, if we want to ensure they are there at the end of this virus, then we need to be providing that sort of emergency capital, that sort of emergency cash.
“No doubt the federal government is considering issues of guaranteeing mortgages, guaranteeing income, all manner of different measures.”
We’ve announced a local economic stimulus package valued at more than $10 million to keep Melburnians in jobs and support city businesses affected by the COVID-19 virus. Please continue to support each other and our local business community. https://t.co/ACD9Y2LQje
— City of Melbourne (@cityofmelbourne) March 17, 2020
Mr Andrews also urged people to avoid panic buying and hoarding, saying there was plenty of food to go around and care packages could be delivered to people if they had to stay at home.
“Stop hoarding. It’s of no benefit to anyone. It is causing distress, it is not right. We will get a care package to you with the basics if you find yourself unable to leave home and you don’t have what you need.”
CHURCH SUSPENDS MASSES
Catholic masses have been suspended across the state as the church moves to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Victoria’s four bishops have written to parishioners tonight announcing an immediate suspension of all public liturgies and mass celebrations until further notice.
The bishops said it may be possible for funerals, weddings and baptisms to proceed with appropriate measures in place.
The celebrations would not be able to exceed crowds in excess of 100 people.
While Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral already streams daily masses live, other parishes are now investigating streaming options ahead of Easter, the most important celebration in the Catholic
“We assure our people that the Mass is being offered for you in our parishes,” the bishops wrote.
“We urge the clergy to make themselves available to visit individuals, especially those who are unwell and vulnerable.”
All Palace Cinemas will be closed indefinitely from Thursday.
The cinema chain said it was a “difficult deicison” but it had been taken to protect both staff and patrons from Covid-19.
“We intend to re-open as soon as circumstances allow,” a statement read.
“We sincerely thank you all for your patronage and support during this unprecedented time and our excellent staff for their efforts and dedication under challenging circumstances.”
Palace operates eight cinemas in Melbourne.
SHOPPING CENTRES DESERTED
Eerie scenes have unfolded around Melbourne as landmarks ground to a halt amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of Victorians’ infected has now hit 121 with 27 cases diagnosed overnight — the biggest increase since the crisis began — prompting a call to ban children from aged care facilities and calls for more extreme social distancing.
The figures reveal the virus is spreading at a faster rate than before, with 14 men and 13 women testing positive in the past 24 hours.
Alarmingly, two cases have now been the result of community transfer, however overwhelmingly the cases are driven by international travellers.
It has also been recommended that children not attend aged-care facilities and people employ social distancing measures like sitting in the back of cabs.
Shoppers have deserted Ringwood’s Eastland shopping centre over coronavirus fears as the federal government’s strict new social distancing measures come into force.
While the major supermarkets were still chaotic, the rest of the centre was like a ghost town as traders struggle to make ends meet.
The usually bustling food court was almost empty as lunchtime began, while an electrical appliance store had only had one customer all day and they didn’t even make a purchase.
Workers at the popular Star Car Wash also sat idle in their office with no vehicles to clean.
Food outlet Si Mamma’s Birendra Lamichhane said they had only served three customers by 11am.
He said the outlet’s average daily takings had halved from $2000 to $1000 and they would struggle to make their monthly lease payments of $25,000.
He said they wouldn’t be able to survive beyond a month without help to pay rent.
“Yeah, it’s worrying for me, I will lose my job,” Mr Lamichhane said.
“In the last two weeks, our business has gone down by about 60 people a day, people are scared of coronavirus, it’s a really hard time.”
Card & Caboodle store manager Robyn Barrand said the deserted shopping centre was “scary”.
“When I started on Monday I was setting up outside the store and there were only a few people around,” she said.
“We’ve knocked 19.5 hours of this week’s roster already and we’re looking at it daily.
“When I need to take my break I’m now having to close the store, so we’re just waiting to hear from Eastland what’s going on.”
She said foot traffic through the store was down by about two-thirds.
In Melbourne’s west, Highpoint is usually a hive of activity but was uncannily deserted this morning, with shoppers abandoning the Maribyrnong mega mall.
Only a handful of people braved the shopping centre, with health warnings ominously displayed around the mall.
Food courts, luxury retailers and department stores were among the businesses that remained empty.
Workers and commuters this morning deserted Melbourne CBD in droves, with Flinders St Station this morning a ghost town at 7.30am.
The retail association for traders in Melbourne’s iconic Chapel St precinct has called on landlords to suspend or heavily reduce rents to help businesses survive the financial devastation of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chapel Street Precinct Association general manager Chrissie Maus said as of today most of their entertainment venues would be shut and wouldn’t be able to make a cent due to strict new social distancing measures.
“This is just absolutely heartbreaking,” she said.
“We are a resilient community admired globally, but we need urgent help – we must save (the) Chapel St precinct.”
The association and its more than 2000 members also called for swift small business support from state and federal governments and for food delivery platforms like UberEats, Menulog and Deliveroo to cut their fees.
“The Australian Government and landlords play the most important role in the absolute survival of Chapel precinct’s businesses and cultural standing,” Ms Maus.
“Landlords may experience some short term losses, but the significance of their contribution will be greatly appreciated – not just by the business owners who may not go under, but by the residents of Stonnington and the rest of Australia who love our iconic metropolis precinct.”
SCHOOL, UNI CHANGES
Victoria University wil suspend face-to-face classes for one week for its Melbourne and Sydney campuses, effective on March 23.
The suspension includes higher education and TAFE courses, but higher education students undertaking placement units and vocational education students undertaking civil engineering or trades courses will continue.
The university’s vice-chancellor Professor Peter Dawkins said the changes were made to help the institution be as prepared as possible for any long-term disruption to classes.
“We have considered the impact of this decision on our resources and systems and are working with relevant departments within VU to advise our students and stakeholders, and prioritise actions to enable this change,” Prof Dawkins said.
Classes will resume on March 30, with the university hoping to deliver as many digital classes as possible during the week-long closure.
Students at Ivanhoe Grammar School worked from home on Wednesday as part of a pupil free day, which aims to prepare students for online-only learning from Monday.
On Facebook, the school said teachers were doing lots of preparation and work with the online platforms ahead of next week’s transition.
“Some of you will be doing your reading, some will be doing maths homework and others will be involved in testing our online learning,” the post said.
“Today and next week you don’t need to wear your uniform, you don’t need to ask to go to the toilet during class, but you do need to turn up online and keep learning.”.
Meanwhile, Premier Daniel Andrews has urged non-government schools to stay open if they have not had COVID-19 cases, saying they’re the best places for young people to be.
Mr Andrews said the advice from all chief health officers across the country was that at this stage of the virus battle, closing schools en masses would “do more harm than good”.
“My kids are at school. The chief health officer’s kids are at school, and that’s where your kids should be,” he said.
“That’s the best place for them in these difficult times. For their safety and the safety of others in the community – particularly people who are vulnerable.”
The premier said although advice could change over time, at the moment it was important to keep schools going.
PRAHAN MARKET ALTERS OPENING HOURS
Prahran Market will open to the elderly, those with disabilities and carers between 9am and midday on March 25.
Select traders will open outside of normal hours to allow vulnerable members of the community a chance to stock up on essential items.
Entry to the market during these special hours will only be available from Commercial Road and Elizabeth St.
Security will be manning the entrances and shoppers will need to show one of the following documents; Photo id showing the customer is aged 60 or over, Pensioner Concession Card or Commonwealth Senior Health Card, Seniors Card issued by a State Government, Disability access permit issued by government or council, Companion Card issued by State Government Department, or a Victorian Carer Card.
GET A VIRTUAL ART FIX THANKS TO NGV
The building might be closed but art-lovers can still get their fix now the National Gallery of Victoria has made its State collection virtually available.
Online colelction galleries, eBooks, children’s activities and virtual tours will be available via the gallery’s website and social media channels during the temporary closure, bringing 75,000 works into the homes of Victorians.
Exhibitions Keith Haring | J ean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines and KAWS: Companionship In The Age Of Loneliness will be available as free curator-led tours, giving audiences a chance to see the exhibitions and fans the opportunity to revisit.
National Gallery of Victoria director Tony Ellwood AM said art had an important role to play in offering solace and inspiration during these challenging times.
“With over 90 per cent of the NGV Collection available online and a host of content produced specially for this period, the Gallery remains accessible even while our doors are temporarily closed. We encourage people to continue to explore and enjoy the NGV Collection from home,” he said.
To access the collections, visit the gallery’s website.
NEIGHBOURS STOPS FILMING
TV soap Neighbours has shut down due to COVID-19 fears as the fifth NSW, and sixth national death from the virus was announced.
The decision was made to close the Melbourne set of the long running Channel 10 drama after a meeting of production staff, actors and crew today.
It is understood someone working on the show has come into contact with a person who has tested positive to coronavirus.
– Jonathon Moran, The Daily Telegraph
NEW TRAVEL BANS ANNOUNCED
AUSTRALIANS have been told not to travel overseas — the first time in history a ban on global movement has been declared.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said every country had been given the highest travel advice setting — Level 4.
“The travel advice to every Australian is do not travel abroad. Do not go overseas. That is a very clear instruction. For those of you who are thinking of going overseas in the school holidays, don’t,’’ Mr Morrison said.
The PM’s declaration comes as Victorian tourism is reeling. International and domestic visitors are staying away from the state’s attractions.
The absence of school excursions is also affecting normally busy venues such as Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Sovereign Hill, which are all still open.
But camping and caravan parks can offer some reprieve from the four walls of people’s lounge rooms.
Caravan Industry Association chairman and Discovery Parks chief executive Grant Wilckens said staying in caravans and self-contained cabins was a good way to self-isolate and still enjoy some open space.
“You have your own airconditioning, you can drive your car up to the front door, your own kitchen, bathroom, your own space,” he said.
Some Discovery Parks and Top Parks locations were considering leaving empty sites between caravans to ensure people felt quarantined.
German tourists Antoania Federholzner, 19, and Jannik Messner, 20, arrived in Australia three weeks ago.
Jannik said they felt safe travelling in their campervan and staying at campsites.
“We didn’t get in contact with anyone and at the moment we feel free and it’s very quiet,” he said.
Melbourne-based Big 4 holiday parks have reported strong bookings despite the health scare.
Sales and marketing manager Katie Cage said people were taking “drive holidays” and avoiding airports.
Caravans, the parks’ cabins and some ensuite facilities meant a family unit could be self-contained.
Outdoor activities such as hiking and camping were still popular last weekend across Victoria, and Parks Victoria staff were preparing for the prospect that many people may retreat to the bush.
One bushwalking tour operator said her bookings were down by 15 per cent.
Sovereign Hill Museums Association chief executive Sara Quon said the popular attraction near Ballarat would remain open.
“Large open places like our outdoor museum that have space for optimism and room to safely connect to others will be vital in sustaining people over the coming months,” Ms Quon said.
Fewer tourists buses are winding their way down the Great Ocean Rd.
Great Ocean Rd Regional Tourism general manager Liz Price said the uncertainty was challenging for travel operators, many of which were small businesses.
“I’m hearing a range of views,” she said.
“Some operators are optimistic because there will be no one travelling overseas and so people will eventually travel at home.”
“And then others fear how long this will all last and people will lose their discretionary spending.”
RACV is keeping its eight resorts and two clubs open but closed its retail outlets and some resort services such as spas, pools and gyms.
Hoarding behaviour in supermarkets around the country was also slammed as “un-Australian” and “disappointing” by the Prime Minister.
Empty shelves face early morning shoppers
Early morning shoppers have again faced empty shelves as supplies run low
He said Australians needed to prepare for a “once in a hundred year-type event” that could last for six months or more and put tens of thousands of people out of work.
“We haven’t seen this sort of thing in Australia since the end of the First World War,” he said.
“We are going to keep Australia running. We are going to keep Australia functioning … There is no short-term quick fix to how this is dealt with in Australia.”
Woolworths chief executive officer Brad Banducci said the grocery giant was dealing with two to three times more than normal demand for products.
He also said the company would soon be recruiting many more staff to cope.
Mr Morrison pleaded with shoppers to stop stockpiling items from shelves, describing it as “un-Australian”.
“On bulk purchasing of supplies, stop hoarding. I can’t be more blunt about it. Stop it,” he said.
“It is not sensible, it is not helpful and it has been one of the most disappointing things I have seen in Australian behaviour in response to this crisis.
“That is not who we are as a people. It is not necessary. It is not something that people should be doing.”
SUPERMARKETS STILL BEING STRIPPED CLEAN
Regional city Ballarat has been stripped off essentials, with at least 12 supermarkets sold out of toilet paper.
The Herald Sun visited a dozen stores, which were also sold out of tissues and paper towel.
Several had wet wipes, and most were close to being sold out of meat.
Disappointed shoppers were entering stores and leaving empty-handed after failing to find the groceries they needed.
Most stores did not know when to expect a new delivery of toilet paper.
One worker at Sebastopol Coles said a fresh delivery arrived at 9am this morning — and sold out within 15 minutes.
Ballarat out of toilet paper
No toilet paper has been found in any of the major supermarkets in Ballarat
Woolworths Brentford Square has missed out on 26 pallets of aisle products, including toilet paper, that were due to be delivered to the Vermont store this morning.
Like many stores across the state, the shelves at the supermarket in Melbourne’s east remained barren as shoppers tried to gather whatever they could.
The only meat available was a packet of pork rashers and handful of fresh cuts from the deli, while Easter eggs appeared on the shelves usually reserved for toilet paper.
A staff member said they had received about a dozen pallets of Easter chocolate but missed out on other goods.
He said they were expecting a delivery of fresh produce, such as meat, fruit and vegetables, between 11am and 2pm today.
He said while a few customers had been aggressive, most were understanding.
A few staff could also be seen wearing gloves as they served customers at the registers.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison this morning urged Australians to “stop hoarding”.
“It’s not sensible, it’s not helpful,” he said. “That is not who we are as a people … It is distracting attention and efforts that need to be going into other measures.”
“There is no reason for people to be hoarding supplies in fear of a lockdown.”
At Coles Ringwood, a staffer said the store received a toilet paper delivery this morning, which sold out within minutes.
Two tradies said they went to three stores before they were able to find toilet paper.
“We started at 8am and we’re now two hours behind our work schedule for the day,” one said.
The lines for the registers inside the Ringwood Aldi store stretched back about 20m as customers queued for up to 30 minutes to buy groceries.
Meanwhile, eager elderly and vulnerable shoppers keen to get their hands on essentials once again queued outside supermarkets early this morning across the country.
But unlike chaotic scenes outside Woolworths stores yesterday, some Coles supermarkets had much more orderly queues as shoppers waited for the special hour of shopping from 7am to 8am for those most in need.
Outside two supermarkets in Coburg in Melbourne’s north shoppers waited to be let into the store and many left with prized goods including toilet paper, packs of paper towels and tissues.
Pensioner Denise Rickard, 67, from Pascoe Vale South said “this morning was far better than it was yesterday”.
“I was at Woolies yesterday and it was just dreadful,” she said.
Down to her final two toilet rolls, she managed to get a pack of toilet paper and paper towels but was unable to get pasta and mince.
While retirees Mary Gambin, 69, and husband Philip, 73, from Pascoe Vale South got serviettes, chocolates and biscuits.
“We are not stockers, we think we have got enough and when the grandkids aren’t there Phil and I can survive with what’s in the cupboard,” she said.
“I can’t understand this irrational behaviour, there really is no need for it,” she said.
The pair said their main concern was for their heavily pregnant daughter and five-year-old son who has a heart condition.
Coles had security at the front of their supermarkets and also staff checking to make sure only eligible customers could enter for the special shopping hour.
It comes as Aldi changes its opening hours and join Coles with creating new limits on items as shoppers flocked to Woolworths yesterday, but left empty-handed.
As of today, all Aldi stores will trade from 9.30am-7pm, unless other state and local trading restrictions apply.
They changed hours of operation to give employees a break so they can look after themselves and their families, and give store employees more time to restock shelves with products and be ready for customers.
They also said it would give time to their employees in the distribution centre to get the stock onto trucks and into stores where thorough cleaning will continue.
Yesterday, Woolworths conceded its special shopping hour “wasn’t perfect” after mayhem swept stores across the country.
State Opposition leader Michael O’Brien has warned predators are selling basic products online at excessive prices and called for online companies to crackdown on rogue operators, including people selling a 48-pack of toilet rolls for $140.
“Unfortunately, there are some people, even in Victoria, that see this coronavirus as an opportunity to rip off their fellow Victorians. It needs to end and it needs to end today.
“I’m calling for online market places, the eBays, the Amazons, the Facebooks, the Gumtrees to immediately take action to ban online sellers that are seeking to price gouge over basic necessities of life.”
Mr O’Brien said the state parliament could also take further action if the online marketplaces did not act.
Meanwhile, KFC has closed in-restaurant dining and will move to drive-through, pick-up and delivery only.
The fast food giant announced the move this morning, along with a string of measures including the compulsory use of hand sanitiser after every cash transaction.
Customers have also been encouraged to pay by card, instead of cash.
One Melbourne eatery at Brentford Square, Vermont, has already made a move to ban cash payments.
The business is also trialling a “kerbside service”, where restaurant team members will deliver click and collect orders to the carpark
And yesterday, Ringwood police station in Melbourne’s outer east was closed after an on-duty officer was notified he had been in contact with a person diagnosed with the virus.
The station was professionally cleaned and reopened to the public.
In a bid to curb greedy tourist shoppers, the Riddells Creek Foodworks will ask for proof of postcode to enter the store.
In a Facebook message posted on Wednesday, management stated they have been left with “no other choice.”
“From this point on we have no other choice but to enforce very strict conditions for entry into our store,” the post read.
The following areas will be allowed into the store; Riddells Creek, Clarkfield, Monegeetta, Bolinda, Romsey, Lancefield, Gisborne, New Gisborne, Cherokee and Sunbury Riddell Road up to and including Settlement Rd.
An exception to the rule has been allowed, with regular customers who live further away able to enter – if a staff member can recognise them.
In a second post addressing concerns from locals, management continued to state they hoped to avoid the drastic measures.
“We had to make the decision as to where the cut off point was,” the statement read.
“We are simply trying to do the best we can given the situation.
“We like all other stores have limits in place across the store. We also are still out of stock of a number of items.”
COURT HEARINGS DELAYED, BOOZE BUS WARNING
Accused criminals will wait longer to face court for the first time in a bid to reduce the number of people moving through Victoria’s magistrates court.
In a memo to staff today Magistrates’ Court of Victoria acting chief Elissa Scott said a number of operational changes were being implemented for the safety of staff and court users.
They included extending first listing times for people on summons to five months.
For accused on bail, they will now wait three months before facing court for the first time.
The court’s audiovisual link system will also be used to capacity to limit in person appearances.
The Koori court has also been suspended immediately to protect the health of elders and other respected persons.
Ms Scott said while all courthouses would remain open, the court was seeking to reduce physical appearances and increase social distancing.
The operational changes come after the High Court, federal courts, Supreme Court, County Court, VCAT and Coroners Court introduced measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Other changes include increased telephone hearings and limited WorkCover matters.
School visits and bench welcomes for new magistrates, which generally attract packed courtrooms, have been stopped.
Signs will also be installed outside courts asking anyone with flu-like symptoms or anyone who has had contact with someone impacted by COVID-19 to first phone the court.
There will be no change to fast tracked family violence matters.
“The court is an essential service. By implementing these changes now we are optimising our ability to continue to provide services as the situation evolves,” Ms Scott said.
The magistrates court is Victoria’s busiest court, dealing with more than 660,000 criminal listings across its venues last financial year.
The civil jurisdiction finalised 43,245 claims during the same period.
Yesterday the state’s civil tribunal closed to the public.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal announced all hearings would now be conducted by telephone.
The High Court has announced it would not be sitting between April and June with the question of future sittings to be reviewed then.
The Court will continue to deliver judgments, which could include in that time the much anticipated judgment following George Pell’s appeal.
It will also deal with special leave applications.
The Federal Court has also largely shutdown, vacating all hearings until June 30 that require in person attendance.
Victorian Chief Justice Anne Ferguson has announced a raft of measures aimed at keeping court users safe.
Meanwhile, police have reassured drivers that there is not a heightened risk of catching coronavirus from a breath test machine.
Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton announced on Monday that booze bus operations would be suspended and more mobile patrols carried out until the pandemic passes.
The force issued a statement this morning to assure people they are not at risk of catching the deadly virus from their testing devices.
“Victoria Police wants to make it very clear that the exposure risk to coronavirus from a PBT machine is no different to going about your daily life in the community,” police spokesman Sam Bidey said.
“Expert medical advice has been sought and Victoria Police has been reassured that it is safe for people to participate in a PBT.”
Police have reiterated that it is illegal to refuse a breath test because of coronavirus.
“It is against the law for drivers to refuse a PBT on the basis that they suspect coronavirus could be contracted,” Mr Bidey said.
“New straws and gloves are used every time a PBT is conducted.
“The machine is also disinfected between use.
“If the driver is not confident this has taken place, they can ask the police officer to complete the steps in front of them again. If a person refuses to undergo a PBT, normal penalties apply. This includes your licence being cancelled for two years and maximum fine of nearly $2000.”
WORKERS, FAMILIES STRUGGLE AS BUSINESSES CLOSE
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas defended the government’s move to not yet announce a state stimulus package.
He said “it is a war effort” and that he was working closely with the business community.
“This government will resource the recovery effort,” Mr Pallas said. “We will definitely make sure businesses are supported.
“We are not talking about stimulus, we are talking about survival.”
However, Mr Pallas declined to announce any specific details on policies in the current volatile climate.
It comes as Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chris Paul Guerra warned Victorian businesses are “haemorrhaging”.
He flagged thousands of workers had lost jobs on the weekend and small and medium-sized entities were going to the wall.
He wrote to Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, outlining key business initiatives including calling for concessional loans, business grants and statutory sick leave entitlements for up to three months.
Mr Guerra will also be meeting with Mr Pallas this afternoon to put forward the cases for more help for employers.
Nationally, billions of dollars in “safety net support” is set to help households pay for essential items like food and rent is being developed by the federal government as it moves to avoid a humanitarian crisis.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann conceded “the grim reality” was that “many businesses” would close.
Thousands of Victorian workers have already been laid off, and the federal government is bracing for the unemployment rate to rise.
“This makes the global financial crisis look like a walk in the park,” a senior source said last night.
Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Paul Guerra said small businesses were the first casualty, but now, medium-sized firms were haemorrhaging cash.
“We are anticipating that the unemployment will eclipse what we saw during the GFC,” Mr Guerra said.
New crowd restrictions are expected to be accompanied by billions of dollars in new federal assistance to help businesses survive the crisis.
A second stimulus package — following an initial $17.6 billion injection last week — will be unveiled within days and the government is believed to be exploring options to guarantee business loans, refinance debt and take on some risk held by the banks.
The national cabinet is moving away from the term “stimulus” as it shifts the economic focus on ensuring people can pay essential bills.
The Reserve Bank is preparing to launch emergency measures on Thursday, tipped to include another rate cut and what would effectively be a money-printing blitz.
A $715 million boost for the aviation industry will be announced on Wednesday by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, enabling airlines to avoid fuel excise and service charges.
Qantas to slash capacity as coronavirus cripples demand
Qantas has announced it will slash international capacity by 90 per cent until at least the end of May as demand plummets amid the coronavirus crisis. Domestic capacity will also be reduced by about 60 per cent as the airline grounds around 150 aircraft. The announcement follows new restrictions – put in place on Monday – which require all international arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days. Image: Getty
They are expected to see an immediate $159 million boost as charges paid since the start of February are reimbursed.
Amid fears of a recession, Australia’s share market closed 5.8 per cent higher on Tuesday — its biggest gain since 1997 — a day after its biggest one-day rout since the 1987 market crash.
Senator Cormann promised the government would deliver to businesses “the appropriate levels of support through this transition to the other side when there will be a strong recovery”.
“We are going to try to keep as many Australians in jobs as possible, working in the best possible way, including with businesses around Australia,” he said. “But we will also be providing appropriate levels of support for those Australians who, over the next few weeks and months, will not be able to remain in employment because of the downturn caused by the coronavirus.”
With Qantas and Virgin Australia forced to introduce cuts to international flights, Transport Workers’ Union secretary Michael Kaine said the government needed to “act urgently to protect jobs and working families”.
Several states have unveiled their own economic stimulus measures, but the Victorian government is yet to follow.
Treasurer Tim Pallas said the virus crisis was “the greatest material risk to the wellbeing, the health and indeed the lives of more Australians than has occurred in the history of this country”.
He said the government would take steps “when it is apparent what the collective effort is” from the second federal stimulus package.
SENIORS TO STAY HOME
Senior Australians could be asked to self-isolate for weeks on end under extreme measures being considered to protect the most vulnerable from coronavirus.
Aged care homes will ban visitors who have returned from overseas or have been in contact with confirmed coronavirus cases.
Visitors with a fever will also be prevented from entering.
Aged care homes will only be allowed two visitors at the same time, which must only last for a limited time in designated areas, preferably in a resident’s room or outside.
Large groups and events will be banned.
“It’s about protecting the residents,” PM Scott Morrison said.
He said families would want to see relatives nearing their end of their lives, and aged care homes would be given the power to make that happen in restricted ways.
As Victoria’s COVID-19 cases surged 25 per cent on Tuesday, discussions among Australia’s health and political leaders centred on how to isolate elderly and frail residents.
And dramatic new guidelines have revealed severely ill patients might not be admitted to intensive care units if they have chronic health conditions that mean they are unlikely to survive COVID-19.
The guidelines, released by the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society, forecast demand for ICU care would exceed capacity when up to 50 per cent of hospital beds were occupied by patients with the pandemic illness.
In the UK, all citizens over 70 have been told to self-isolate for 12 weeks, and authorities in Australia are believed to be considering similar measures here.
Aged-care homes have already been asked to activate their influenza protocols, which limit the number of visitors and require residents to be separated.
Aged-care provider Arcare put its Point Lonsdale facility into lockdown last night, banning all visitors until April 17 as a precautionary measure.
Villa Maria Catholic Homes on Tuesday locked down its 11 Victorian facilities for two weeks, and Uniting AgeWell also banned all visitors at its premises for the next fortnight.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said “limited access” contact between aged-care residents and their families would continue.
“What is being considered here is to make sure there is access, but limited access,” Mr Hunt said.
“These are our parents and our grandparents; these are our senior Australians who have helped build what we have and so we have to protect them from the disease. But we don’t want to remove them from the most human of contact.”
The Herald Sun understands the government is considering altering restrictions on the number of hours international students can work in aged-care facilities.
The measure would create a “surge workforce” that would be called up to work in aged-care homes, amid growing concern for the sector after three people died in an outbreak in a facility in NSW.
Efforts are ramping up to protect Victoria’s homeless who have nowhere to avoid coronavirus or further transmission.
A $6 million Andrews Government package will be provided for temporary housing and “pop-up accommodation” in central Melbourne, while extra staff are being placed in public housing estates to clean and slow the virus’s spread.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is going to have wide-ranging impacts across our community, but those experiencing homelessness who have nowhere else to go, will be hit particularly hard,” Housing Minister Richard Wynne said.
Grandparents are being advised not to attend swimming lessons with their grandkids.
In new measures put in place by Elite Swimming, only one parent or guardian is allowed to accompany their child in the pool with grandparents being urged to stay away.
The company said they are also closing their changing rooms to encourage social distancing, with parents advised to quickly change their child on the pool deck or take them home straight after lessons
AUSTRALIAN RESEARCHERS WIPE OUT COVID-19 IN LAB TEST
Australian researchers have used two widely available antiviral drugs to wipe out coronavirus in a lab test, as scientists successfully map the immune system’s response to mild cases of the disease.
The two major breakthroughs have been heralded as “very important” steps toward developing treatments and a potential vaccine for COVID-19 by Health Minister Greg Hunt.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy this morning said Australia now had 454 cases of coronavirus.
It comes as NSW Senator Andrew Bragg was the third Morrison government member to test positive.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton shared a picture of himself and dog Ralph after being discharged from hospital to self isolate for the remainder of his illness on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a number of Cabinet ministers had been tested for the virus, where they met the need for tests under health protocols.
China approves virus vaccine for clinical trials: state media
China has given the go-ahead for researchers to begin human safety tests of an experimental coronavirus vaccine on Monday (March 16), in the race to develop a shot against the COVID-19 epidemic that has killed more than 7,000 people worldwide. Edward Baran reports.
“I was pleased that I got a good tick last night from the doc … I intend to see him fairly regularly in the weeks ahead,” he said.
It comes as US President Donald Trump announced 45 young healthy people would receive the first dose of a candidate vaccine created by biotechnology company Moderna.
Patients will be paid $1100 each to take the potential vaccine, which was fast tracked past animal testing straight to humans.
In Australia, University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research director David Paterson said his team had found two drugs used to treat other conditions could wipe out coronavirus in test tubes.
Meanwhile researchers at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Victoria have mapped how the immune system fights off and recovers from a mild to moderate case of coronavirus.
ANZAC DAY SERVICES AXED, TRAVELLERS TOLD COME HOME
Anzac Day will look very different this year, with overseas commemorations cancelled and a proposal for dawn services in driveways across the nation.
Australia has pulled out of services at Gallipoli in Turkey and on the Western Front, which usually draws crowds in the hundreds.
Melbourne’s big Anzac Day service and march have also been cancelled.
RSL Victoria will instead televise a private dawn service at the Shrine.
The Australian War Memorial will also go ahead with a private but televised commemorative service.
Those looking to mark the occasion while observing social distancing are backing a campaign for people to stand at the end of their driveways at 6am on Anzac Day for a minute’s silence.
Former Australian Defence Force member Kylie Pearce posted the idea from a fellow veteran on social media and it has since been shared 16,000 times.
“It would really be a sight,” Ms Pearce said.
“People are talking about lighting a candle or putting out a poppy wreath on your letterbox as well.”
Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester said the government had no choice but to follow expert advice that big public gatherings were an unacceptable risk for participants and tourists.
“This decision has not been made lightly,” he said.
US STOCKS RALLY AFTER TRUMP STIMULUS ANNOUNCEMENT
Stocks have rebounded following Wall Street’s sharpest daily drop in more than three decades as the United States took steps to try to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus.
The dollar bounced back from heavy losses against the euro on Monday, and oil prices, which had drifted below $US30 per barrel, pushed higher.
Wall Street stock indices rebounded from the opening bell after having collapsed on Monday in their worst day since 1987.
— Additional reporting: Tamsin Rose, Alex White, Grant McArthur, Jack Paynter, John Rolfe, Grace McKinnon-Leyton and Shannon Deery
- Losing no longer feels 'normal' for rejuvenated Pinckney hockey team
- AFL Draft 2018: Possible No. 1 pick Bailey Smith says he isn’t satisfied with his season so far
- AFL fixture change: Patrick Dangerfield says 22 games is ‘farcical’ as players call for 17-5 model
- More leather poisoning for budding superstar Clayton Oliver as Demons reignite season
- Grand Final at the MCG til 2057 shows limits of AFL's power
- Six hot takes from AFL Round 16
- Fear of a yellow and black planet: Richmond can be AFL's next glamour club
- 'All over the place' Dons get act together
- Who wins this weekends AFL matches and why
- Can North Melbourne make the top eight this season?
- AFL 360: Roos midfielder Shaun Higgins ‘not sure’ why he is being targeted by opposition clubs
- Live AFL: Round 16, West Coast Eagles v GWS Giants
- AFL 360: Gold Coast need to ‘find out now’ if Steven May is going to stay, says David King
- Live AFL: Round 16, Richmond v Adelaide Crows
- Three Word Analysis: Round 16 of the 2018 AFL season wrapped up in just three words per club
- ‘Delicious’: The end of the AFL’s biggest love story between Bruce McAveney and Cyril Rioli
- Live AFL: Round 16, Brisbane Lions v Carlton
- Stale WAFL: Time to turf AFL players from the finals
- AFL's highway to the danger zone
- 4 Points: How Blues can get ahead of the game
Victorians to feel some normality as the AFL footy season gets underway have 7761 words, post on www.news.com.au at March 19, 2020. This is cached page on Game Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.