There have been a number of changes in decisions in regard to COVID-19 in the last few days and this is a quick basic guide to the latest safety net package.
I will continue to produce this newsletter as policy changes to give you all the latest possible information.
In this newsletter I am covering:
- New restrictions on pubs, gyms, cinemas, cafés etc. and why staying home as much as you can, is so important.
- What is happening with State Border closures.
- Testing for Coronavirus
- Financial assistance for individuals, workers, households and businesses
- Links to find out finer details of assistance
- Retention bonus for aged care workers and other aged care assistance
NEW MEASURES TO REDUCE THE SPREAD
Following the National Cabinet meeting on Sunday evening and again last night, the Prime Minister announced further restrictions on public gatherings and on businesses providing services involving people congregating together. He foreshadowed that it was likely restrictions may be tightened further as the situation changes. Restrictions will be reviewed regularly and Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least 6 months.
The following facilities are prohibited from trading until further notice:
* Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
* Gyms and indoor sporting venues
* Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
* Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
* Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).
* Isolated remote community hubs are not included in these restrictions.
The following facilities are prohibited from 11:59pm tonight:
* food courts – delivery and takeaway can remain open
* auction houses
* real estate auctions and open house inspections – private appointments for inspection are allowed
* hairdressers and barber shops – you can have an appt. up to 30 minutes (1 person per 4 square metre rule applies in the premises)
* beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, tattoo parlours
* spas and massage parlours
* adult entertainment venues
* concert venues, theatre, arenas, auditoriums, stadiums
* amusement parks and arcades
* play centres – indoor and outdoor
* community and recreation centres – facilities may remain open for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services
* health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre and spin facilities, saunas, bathhouses and wellness centres
* boot camps, personal training operating inside and outside – for outside events, limited to groups of no more than 10 people is okay – social distancing must be exercised
* social sporting-based activities
* swimming pools
* galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites
* libraries, community centres, youth centres
* local government non-essential facilities and services
* community facilities such as community halls, clubs, RSLs
* places of worship – weddings can go ahead with a maximum of 5 people and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies
* places of worship – funerals can be attended by a maximum of 10 people and where the 1 person per square metre rule applies
Decisions for individual states and territories:
* outdoor and indoor markets – however food markets will continue to operate in all states and territories
* hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, boarding houses – with the exception of permanent residents and workers
* caravans and camping parks – however, where people live permanently in caravan parks or are staying in caravan parks as interim abodes where their primary residence is not available, they may continue to do so.
These measures also apply to outdoor spaces associated with the above venues.
These enhanced measures build on existing measures to slow the virus and save lives:
* No non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people outside or more than 100 people inside.
* All non-essential indoor gatherings of less than 100 people must have no more than one person per 4sqm. All Australians should expect their local businesses to be following this rule.
* Where possible, keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others
* Avoid non-essential travel
* Restrictions on entering aged care homes to protect older Australians
Last night the Prime Minister also announced that the Commonwealth Government will implement a ‘do not travel’ ban on Australians travelling overseas under the Biosecurity Act 2015.
These new restrictions will change the way we live and the PM and National Cabinet expressed deep regret for those business owners and employees who will be impacted. The goal is to reduce the spread of the virus, to flatten the curve and to save the lives of fellow Australians.
*FULL ADVICE AVAILABLE FROM WWW.AUSTRALIA.GOV.AU
STATE BORDER CONTROL MEASURES
The State Government has taken unprecedented action in requiring all people entering South Australia to self-isolate for 14-days from their arrival. The measure, recommended by Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier, will include exemptions for essential travel to maintain health, the food supply chain, and the State’s economic needs. The move will help delay community transmission of the disease which is happening in other parts of Australia, in particular the eastern states.
Exemptions will apply for essential transport including:
* National and state security and governance
* Health services
* Essential medical treatment
* Transport and freight services
* Skills critical to maintaining key industries or businesses
* Emergency Services workers
* Cross border community members
* Passing through (travellers will need to make their own enquiries about entry into their final state destination)
* Compassionate grounds
Visit the South Australian Police (SAPOL) Direction released for travel into South Australia for more information about restrictions, exemptions and enforcement.
(source: SA Health – www.sahealth.sa.gov.au)
The criteria for testing for COVID-19 has been expanded in South Australia from 22 March 2020 to include anyone who has travelled from interstate in the last seven days and has new respiratory symptoms. This does not include South Australians who live and work at the border.
Please only present for testing if you meet the criteria:
* You have travelled overseas in the past 14 days AND have symptoms.
* You have travelled interstate in the past 7 days AND have new symptoms.
* You have been in contact with a confirmed case AND have symptoms.
* You are a healthcare worker with direct patient contact AND have a fever (temperature over 37.5°) AND an acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat).
(source: SA Health – www.sahealth.sa.gov.au)
New drive through testing clinics have opened in Port Lincoln and Ceduna following the establishment of similar clinics in Whyalla and Port Augusta reported in my e-newsletter last week. For full details of times and locations click on each clinic location on this website. The Yorke & Northern Local Health Network link outlines testing for people in Balaklava, Booleroo, Burra, Clare, Crystal Brook, Jamestown, Laura, Maitland, Minlaton, Orroroo, Peterborough, Port Broughton, Port Pirie, Riverton, Snowtown, Wallaroo and Yorketown.
The National Cabinet agreed that children should go to school. Leaders agreed that we cannot see children lose an entire year of their education as a result of school closures caused by COVID-19.
The National Cabinet accepted the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice that it is safe to keep schools open. They also thanked all teachers and school staff for their support.
State Premiers and Chief Ministers agreed that schools will remain open through to the end of the current school term to support students whose parents choose to send their children to school.
All states have committed to re-open schools at the end of the school break, subject to the advice of the AHPPC.
If parents choose to keep their children home from school, they must be responsible for the conduct of the children and to ensure they adhere to the social distancing arrangements in place. Parents must be aware that while the majority of adults who contract COVID-19 have mild forms of the virus, the elderly or those with co-morbidities can have more significant symptoms.
Schools will be encouraged to provide access to online and distance learning.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES
The Commonwealth Government released the second stage of its economic plan to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus and help build a bridge to recovery. New measures include:
* Doubling of the Job Seeker Allowance (Newstart) with a 6 month Coronavirus payment, this $550 a fortnight boost will also be available to Youth Allowance recipients
* Accelerated access to the JSA for casuals and sole traders
* A further $750 support payment to more than 5 million eligible Australians
* Early access to Superannuation for affected workers and sole-traders
* Halving the Superannuation drawdown rate for retirees
* Further reducing the deeming rate to benefit 900,000 Australians
* Small Business cash payments up to $100,000 (enhanced from first stimulus package)
* Guaranteeing loans for small businesses
* Increasing the insolvency and bankruptcy thresholds
A total of $189 billion is being injected into the economy by all arms of Government in order to keep Australians in work and businesses in business.
This includes $17.6 billion for the Government’s first economic stimulus package, $90 billion from the RBA and $15 billion from the Government to deliver easier access to finance, and $66.1 billion in Sunday’s economic support package.
Support for workers and households
The Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.
The Coronavirus supplement will be paid for the next 6 months. Eligible income support recipients will receive the full amount of the $550 Coronavirus supplement on top of their payment each fortnight.
This measure is estimated to cost $14.1 billion over the forward estimates period.
An increase of up to 5,000 staff for Services Australia will assist to support delivery of new Government measures.
Payments to support households
In addition to the $750 stimulus payment announced on 12 March 2020, the Government will provide a further $750 payment to social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders, except for those who are receiving an income support payment that is eligible to receive the Coronavirus supplement.
This second payment will be made automatically from 13 July 2020 to around 5 million social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. Around half of those that benefit are pensioners.
The first payment will be made from 31 March 2020 to people who have been on one of the eligible payments any time between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020.
This measure is estimated to cost $4 billion over the forward estimates period.
Early release of superannuation
The Government will allow individuals in financial stress as a result of the Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.
Eligible individuals will be able to apply online through myGov for access of up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020. They will also be able to access up to a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 for another three months. They will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.
This measure is estimated to cost $1.2 billion over the forward estimates period.
Temporarily reduce superannuation minimum drawdown rates
The Government is temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account based pensions and similar products by 50 per cent for 2019-20 and 2020-21. This measure will benefit retirees by providing them with more flexibility as to how they manage their superannuation assets.
Reducing social security deeming rates
On top of the deeming rate changes made at the time of the first package, the Government is reducing the deeming rates by a further 0.25 percentage points to reflect the latest rate reductions by the RBA. As of 1 May 2020, the lower deeming rate will be 0.25 per cent and the upper deeming rate will be 2.25 per cent. The change will benefit around 900,000 income support recipients, including Age Pensioners.
This measure is estimated to cost $876 million over the forward estimates period.
Assistance to business to keep people in a job
Boosting Cash Flow for Employers
The Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not‑for-profits (including charities) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will help businesses’ and not-for-profits’ cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.
Under the enhanced scheme from the first package, employers will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of their salary and wages withheld (up from 50 per cent), with the maximum payment being increased from $25,000 to $50,000. In addition, the minimum payment is being increased from $2,000 to $10,000. The payment will be available from 28 April 2020.
By linking the payments to business to staff wage tax withholdings, businesses will be incentivised to hold on to more of their workers.
The payments are tax free, there will be no new forms and payments will flow automatically through the ATO.
This measure will benefit around 690,000 businesses employing around 7.8 million people, and around 30,000 NFPs (including charities).
Small and medium business entities with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible. NFPs entities, including charities, with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers will now also be eligible. This will support employment at a time where NFPs are facing increasing demand for services.
Regulatory protection and financial support for businesses to stay in business
Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme
The Government will establish the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme which will support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to get access to working capital to help them get them through the impact of the coronavirus.
Under the Scheme, the Government will guarantee 50 per cent of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SMEs.
The Government’s support will enhance lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit to SMEs with the Scheme able to support $40 billion of lending to SMEs.
The Scheme will complement the announcement the Government has made to cut red-tape to allow SMEs to get access to credit faster. It also complements announcements made by Australian banks to support small businesses with their existing loans.
This builds on the investment the Government is making to enable smaller lenders to continue supporting Australian consumers and small businesses, through providing the Australian Office of Financial Management an investment capacity of $15 billion to invest in wholesale funding markets used by small authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADI) and non-ADI lenders.
It further supports the Reserve Bank of Australia’s announcement of a $90 billion term funding facility for the ADIs, that will reduce the cost of lending, with particular incentives to lend to small and medium enterprises.
These, along with the previous announcements, will deliver a total of $125 billion to support Australians get through the impact of the coronavirus.
The Government will guarantee up to $20 billion to support $40 billion in SME loans.
Providing temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
The Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive. The package also includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent. The Corporations Act 2001 will be amended to provide temporary and targeted relief for companies to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus.
This builds on the support for business and business investment provided in our first economic support package, which included
* increasing the instant asset write off
* backing business investment by providing accelerated depreciation deductions
* supporting apprentices and trainees
* targeted support for Coronavirus-affected regions and communities
HELPLINE FOR BUSINESSES AFFECTED – 13 28 46
From today, the Morrison Government’s business hotline will give more support to small and medium businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Operations at the business.gov.au 13 28 46 Contact Centre will increase from five days per week to seven days per week, and provide additional hours of support outside standard operating hours for the first month, answering calls from 7am to 11pm AEST.
LINKS TO FACT SHEETS
All the finer details are available in the below factsheets and I encourage you to read them for further information on measures that will assist you, your family and your business.
SUPPORT FOR AGED CARE
The aged care sector will face huge challenges over the coming months as we combat the spread of COVID-19. On Friday, the Government announced $444.6 million in extra support to help the sector remain strong.
The package included a retention bonus for aged care workers:
* Full-time direct care workers in residential care facilities will receive a payment of up to $800 after tax per quarter, paid for two quarters.
* Full-time home care workers will receive payments of up to $600 after tax per quarter, paid for two quarters.
* Part-time direct care workers receive a pro-rata payment for the amount of time worked.
* Payments will be made via providers with the first payment expected in June (for the preceding quarter). The second payment will be paid in September.
The announcement also included:
* A $78.3 million funding boost for residential care to support continuity of workforce supply. Every residential aged care provider will receive a portion of additional funding, which will be administered through uplift to subsidies paid through Aged Care Funding Instrument.
* An additional $70.2m for Commonwealth Home Service Program providers to support those impacted by COVID-19, in recognition of additional support that will need to be provided to care recipients, such as those now in self-isolation, such as assistance with shopping and meals on wheels. Constituents can continue to contact the My Aged Care hotline regarding their care requirements: 1800 200 422.
* $22m in extra funding for home care providers to support continuity of workforce supply.
* A temporary 30 per cent increase to the Residential and Home Care Viability Supplements and the Homeless Supplement.
If you have any feedback or questions please don’t hesitate to reply to this email or give one of my offices a call on the phone numbers listed below. I always welcome residents’ feedback.
Rowan Ramsey MP
Federal Member for Grey