Coronavirus update from the Government on social distancing, economic support to people, businesses

Compulsory Shut-downs

The Prime Minister announced there will be strict new social distancing and travel measures put in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus:

  • Social and other public gatherings have been significantly restricted. The following venues are now restricting from opening:
    • 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)
  • The ban on non-essential gatherings over 100 people (indoors) and 500 people (outdoors) remains intact, and new restrictions on these gatherings have been introduced:
    • All non-essential indoor gatherings may have no more than 1 person per 4 square metres
    • Keep at least 1.5m away from others whenever possible
  • All overseas travel is banned, and many states have introduced mandatory isolation for inter-state travellers
    • Australian citizens and permanent residents entering Australia still must undergo a 14-day home self-isolation period
    • All others are not permitted to enter Australia
    • Do not travel overseas

This image, explains why social distancing is so important in responding to the virus.

Call Coronavirus Information Phone line 1800 020 080 if you have questions about your health, or about any of these measures, and don’t know what to do.

 

The Government’s Economic Response

Yesterday the Government announced a second stimulus package that is focused on keeping Australians in jobs. It is designed to be sustainable and scale-able and to help small and medium businesses to stay in business as we face the challenges posed by the spread of the virus.

This new package 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

Over the last week my office has been liaising with the Treasurer’s office on issues that have been raised with me by our community and I have been able to advise about people who are being significantly affected by the downturn in the economy. The new stimulus has made some provision for many of these issues.

A total of $189 billion is being injected into the economy by the 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 today’s economic support package. The package will cushion the blow from the coronavirus for businesses and households to help us get through to the other side of the crisis.

The economic support package includes:
•    Support for households including casuals, sole-traders, retirees and those on income support.
•    Assistance for businesses to keep people in a job.
•    Regulatory protection and financial support for businesses to stay in business.

Support for Workers and Households

Coronavirus supplement
The Government is temporarily expanding eligibility for 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 jobseeker, 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.

An increase of up to 5,000 staff for Services Australia will assist in the 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 will have been on one of the eligible payments any time between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020.

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.

Temporarily reduce superannuation minimum draw-down rates
The Government is temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products by 50 percent 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.

Support for Employers

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’ (NFP) 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.

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.

An additional payment is also being made from 28 July 2020. Eligible entities will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments received.

Support and Regulatory Protection for Businesses

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  ADIs, that will reduce the cost of lending, with particular incentives to lend to small and medium enterprises.

Providing temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
Finally, 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.

For more information on the economic stimulus package or to check your eligibility contact https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus

Schools

The expert health advice provided to the National Cabinet suggests that schools should remain open at this point in time.

However, the NSW Premier has announced that families in NSW can make their own decision about whether or not they send their children to school. This is not because the health advice has changed, but for practical reasons after 30 percent of school children stayed home last week.

Schools are being encouraged to provide online and distance education options where possible to ensure students who cannot be at school don’t miss out on their schooling.

If parents choose to keep their children home from school, parents must be responsible for the conduct of the children and to ensure they adhere to the social distancing arrangements in place.

Health advice on COVID-19

Information on COVID-19 is being updated daily, for current advice visit health.gov.au. The best defence against most viruses is practising good hygiene.

  • Wash you hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Cover your cough/sneeze and dispose of tissues.
  • Avoid contact with others if you are unwell.

You only needed to get tested for COVID-19 if you have developed symptoms and have returned from overseas in the previous 14 days or if you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 and develop symptoms.

If you are in either of these categories, self-isolate and call ahead before visiting your doctor, hospital or a clinic to be tested.

If you have returned from overseas or have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you must remain in self-isolation for the full 14 days.

For the most up to date health advice, visit www.health.gov.au or call 1800 020 080.

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Posted by on Mar 24 2020. Filed under Community, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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