1.01am BST
01:01

About 90% of South Australia’s $1bn coronavirus economic stimulus package was spent by the end of the financial year, figures released by the SA government suggest.

More on this from AAP:

Treasurer Rob Lucas said it was critical to have funding support over a longer period of time, not just three months.

The package was announced in March to provide financial relief and support to local businesses and not-for-profit organisations hit-hard by the pandemic.

“In the same way the federal government has extended its JobKeeper wage subsidy, we are ensuring there’s a steady supply of stimulus funding injected into the SA economy,” Lucas said on Thursday.

“The last thing anyone wants is for support to simply fall off a cliff within the first three months of a pandemic. That would have been counterproductive.”

Stimulus money which was able to be spent quickly included $10,000 cash grants for small businesses and not-for-profits, with $186 million already paid.

More than $13m has also been spent on giving eligible homeowners a once-off $500 cash boost and bringing forward the 2020-21 Cost-of-Living Concession to help with everyday expenses like water, gas and electricity bills.

However, Lucas said there would be inevitable delays with some elements of the package, like the land tax transition fund.

“Ultimately, we are committed to support SA businesses and jobs through the greatest economic challenge of our time.”

All infrastructure works are required to undergo usual planning and procurement processes, which could result in projects starting later than planned.

12.59am BST
00:59

A reminder that if you’re doing exercise that causes puffing (jogging, running, very hard cycling) you don’t have to wear a face mask under the rules in place in greater Melbourne and the Mitchell shire.

Jeff Kennett
(@jeff_kennett)

Just completed my morning walk wearing my mask. Found breathing a laboured effort. Not complaining but I wonder if one side effect might be that a lot of senior people do not continue with their very valuable exercise? That said vast majority of people conforming which is good

July 22, 2020

I’m also going to add that while a three-layered mask is the ideal and offers the best protection, if you find it difficult to breath through when out on a walk you could, if you are also practicing social distancing, try wearing a lighter mask.

12.49am BST
00:49

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, and health minister, Jenny Mikakos, will give the coronavirus update at 11am.

Which, as mentioned earlier, is also when we understand the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, will give the economic update.

Updated
at 12.57am BST

12.46am BST
00:46

As always you can follow our rolling global coronavirus coverage, steered in Australian daylight hours by the inexhaustible Helen Sullivan, here.

Updated
at 12.49am BST

12.44am BST
00:44

Victorian treasurer says deficit likely to be $7.5bn

The Victorian state budget is likely to have an operating deficit of $7.5bn in the 2019-20 financial year, the treasurer, Tim Pallas, said.

The figures came from updated economic modelling based on existing conditions in Victoria and the six-week lockdown and comes ahead of the national economic update, later this morning.

He said tax revenue, including revenue from GST, is expected to be $8.5bn lower over the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years, compared with pre-pandemic forecasts, as a result of lower property tax revenue, declining payroll tax, and reduced GST.

And he said gross state product in Victoria is forecast to fall by 5.25% this calendar year.

The expected deficit is also due to $3.4bn support for businesses and households, including $503m in payroll tax refunds, $22.6m in refunds for liquor licence fees for businesses, and $771.3m in business support grants.

The unemployment rate was at 7.5% in June, and is expected to peak at 9% in December.

Pallas told reporters in Melbourne this morning:

The economic devastation caused by coronavirus is simply eye-watering. And for many individuals it will be both traumatic and devastating. And we need to recognise that. We need to give you as clear and as accurate an assessment of the situation as we can.

Right now we’re focused doing everything we can to support tens of thousands of Victorian businesses, workers, families who are doing it tough. Getting control of the virus is not only good for our health, it’s good for the economy. The sooner we get on top of the virus the sooner we can repair the economic damage it has caused.

Updated
at 12.52am BST

12.31am BST
00:31

The Australian treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, will give the economic update at 11am. I’ll bring you that as it happens.

Updated
at 12.39am BST

12.23am BST
00:23

If you’re worried about getting materials to make your own face masks, I’ve heard of the following being used:

Reusable shopping bags (like supermarket green bags) for the outer layer or middle filter layer.
Old cotton T-shirts.
Old flannelette sheets (particularly good for the inner layer, next to your face).
Old exercise clothes for the outer layer, which is recommended to be waterproof.
The elastic from old fitted sheets for the ear loops.
Shoelaces, ribbons or bits of fabric sewn into a tube for the ties.
Bread ties, picture wire (ends bent in) or heavy aluminium foil – like a heavy disposable baking tray – for the nose clip.

Updated
at 12.29am BST

12.16am BST
00:16

The rules and FAQ around when you have to wear a mask or face covering in Melbourne and the Mitchell shire were updated again late yesterday, before the rule coming into force today.

First, the basics. The face covering has to cover both your nose and mouth. It could be a mask, a face shield, or just a bandana or scarf or balaclava – so long as your nose and mouth are covered, so are you.

The greater Melbourne metropolitan region and the Mitchell shire are the only areas where the mandatory rule is in place. In regional Victoria it’s requested that you wear a face covering in circumstances where you cannot socially distance, like at the supermarket or on public transport, and in NSW – particularly areas around identified hotspots – it’s recommended that you do.

We’ll focus on the Melbourne/Mitchell shire rules for now.

It is only mandatory for people over the age of 12. But kids aged 12 and over must wear a face mask at all times (exemptions below) including at school.

Valid reasons for not wearing a mask are:

You suffer from a relevant medical condition, such as one that creates breathing difficulties, a serious skin condition on the face, or a disability or a mental health condition that makes wearing a mask difficult. This also includes persons who are communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
That can include people with asthma, although it depends on the individual.
If you are engaging in a a profession that requires clear enunciation and visibility of your mouth (again, so people can lipread). So that’s teachers while they are teaching in the classroom, journalists doing live broadcasts, etc.
If wearing one would create a risk to that person’s health and safety related to their work.
You’re doing a training session, or competing, as a professional sportsperson.
Running or jogging. You have to wear your face covering once you stop running.
You’ve removed it to eat, drink, smoke or vape.
You’re receiving dental or medical care that requires access to your nose or mouth.
During an emergency.

You can also be asked by police, bottle shop staff and bank workers to remove your mask prove your identity.

You must carry a face covering with you when you leave your home if you live in Melbourne or the Mitchell shire, even if you don’t need to wear it while undertaking your current activity.

But if you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a face covering, you don’t need to carry one.

Updated
at 12.28am BST

11.46pm BST
23:46

Victoria police will ‘show discretion’ in enforcing mandatory face mask rule

By now, hopefully, most residents of Melbourne and the Mitchell shire will have bought or made a face covering to wear when they go outdoors. If you haven’t, here are the government’s instructions for making one using materials you probably have at home.

The public health direction making it mandatory to wear a face mask in greater Melbourne and the Mitchell shire, the areas now subject to a stage-three lockdown, came into effect at midnight last night. There are some exceptions which I’ll go through in a minute.

But first, police said last night that although they are able to issue $200 on-the-spot fines for people in Melbourne and the Mitchell shire who are not wearing masks, they will “exercise discretion” for the first week because it’s a new rule.

A police spokesperson said:

Police will exercise discretion over the next seven days, as we understand that for many people this is a significant adjustment. We understand that the vast majority of Victorians are trying to do the right thing and our exercise of discretion will reflect that.

That said, we do expect people to follow the Chief Health Officer’s directions and will not hesitate to issue fines to people who are obviously and blatantly showing a disregard for community safety by failing to wear a mask.

For example, if a person has a mask and refuses to wear it when requested then that person can expect to be issued with the fine.

Similarly, if a person persists with entering a supermarket when requested not to do so due to the absence of a mask then that person can expect to be issued with a fine.

People who are concerned about a large breach of the mask rule – that is, a mass gathering where people are unmasked, not just your neighbour not wearing one – can call the police assistance line on 131 444.

But the advice is to only call that line if it really is a mass breach, many adults are gathering maskless, a business is clearly flouting the rules, etc. Don’t call for just one or two people.

You may have heard the Victorian chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, yesterday requesting that people keep in mind that there are legitimate reasons for not wearing a face masks and not to assume that people they see maskless are deliberately flouting the law:

There will be people with medical, behavioural, psychological reasons not to wear a mask. Certainly don’t make an assumption that they should be the subject of your ire.

Updated
at 12.26am BST

11.33pm BST
23:33

The Western Australian government has announced $3m in funding to support the local manufacture of personal protective equipment.

Under the fund, WA businesses that want to manufacture PPE including masks, face visors, coveralls and ventilators can apply for grants of up to $500,000.

There is also funding of up to $20,000 for companies wanting to undertake a feasibility study into the viability of a PPE manufacturing proposal.

The WA premier, Mark McGowan, said the fund would help businesses recover from the impact of the coronavirus:

These grants will help successful businesses move towards manufacturing PPE right here in Western Australia, and move towards being less reliant on obtaining PPE from outside the State.

The health minister, Roger Cook, said the funding would “help establish a reliable local supply [of PPE] in the future”:

Although the COVID-19 case numbers in Western Australia remain very encouraging, we cannot afford to be complacent, and these funds will help our State prepare for the future.

Updated
at 12.23am BST

11.22pm BST
23:22

In Queensland nightclubs have been warned to follow their Covid-19 safety plans. Which, you’ll recall, involve not dancing.

More from AAP:

Queensland police deputy commissioner, Steve Gollschewski, said the majority of nightclub owners were doing their best and falling into line with measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

However, he’s just as concerned with clubbers flouting social distancing advice and failing to respect how potent and contagious the virus is.

“We are coming into another weekend and we are looking at nightclubs … and after last weekend we saw improved compliances from the businesses,” he said. “Whilst many of the venues are trying to do the right thing patrons still aren’t getting it.

“We are still seeing large numbers of people gathering, still seeing people not taking it seriously … social distancing is with us and for some time yet.”

Updated
at 12.21am BST

11.13pm BST
23:13

NSW ‘on a knife-edge’, AMA says

Sticking to NSW for a moment, the state president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Danielle McMullen, said the next two weeks were critical in keeping the outbreak under control:

We are on a knife-edge. NSW Health is doing absolutely everything it can to trace new transmissions and contain clusters but ultimately it will be up to NSW residents if we are going to curtail spread of the virus.

Everyone is feeling the fatigue from this pandemic but we’ve got to keep our guard up. That means frequent handwashing, physical distancing and getting tested at the first sign of a sniffle.

McMullen said it would take two more weeks to see whether the outbreak in NSW could be contained:

I’m urging all residents to take the hit now – avoid all non-essential travel and large social gatherings – and hopefully in two weeks we’ll be rewarded with reduced numbers of new cases.

Updated
at 12.20am BST

11.08pm BST
23:08

Prof Jodie McVernon, an epidemiologist and adviser to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, is speaking on Radio National about the confusion surrounding when people who may have the coronavirus have to self-isolate.

I’ve already mentioned the figures Daniel Andrews mentioned yesterday, about nine out of 10 people not self-isolating from when they first felt sick and one in two not self-isolating after they got a test.

Andrews said at his press conference yesterday that the advice about this has been clear – but McVernon says it is complicated.

And I know, from my own experiences and from what you have told us, that not everyone who gets a test has been told to self-isolate until they get their result.

McVernon says people who have possible coronavirus symptoms should immediately self-isolate, get a test, and remain isolated until they get their result. That has always been the advice, she says.

But many people have got tested as a precaution, without showing symptoms –and the national guidelines on that are that people without symptoms do not necessarily have to stay home. Yesterday Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said the state was only offering symptomatic testing at this stage (although the symptoms can be very mild) unless people work in a target industry or are a close contact of a confirmed case.

Says McVernon:

I think there’s a lot of confusion out there because the way we’re using testing is so broad. Clearly if you have symptoms then you should self-isolate and once you get the test you should self-isolate until you get the result.

People who are symptomatic are meant to stay home, but the national guidance has been that people who are testing just because they feel like it do not necessarily have to stay home.

In NSW, the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has reiterated that people identified as a potential close contact of a positive case have to self-isolate for 14 days even if they test negative. That’s in an attempt to stamp out the outbreaks seen in NSW this month.

McVernon said she wished them every success:

I think there’s a really active case-finding response there … I really wish them every success in getting them under control.

Updated
at 12.18am BST

10.54pm BST
22:54

In a small bit of good news, because we need it: all the social distancing we’ve done since the pandemic began has significantly cut the number of deaths caused by the flu.

Just 36 people died of the flu in Australia between January and June, compared with 430 same period last year.

But, sadly, 128 people have died after testing positive to Covid-19.

Updated
at 12.12am BST

10.51pm BST
22:51

The Victorian treasurer, Tim Pallas, is also giving an economic update today. He will be up at 9am and, in a phrase that I suspect will become commonplace, the media alert says “face coverings advised”.

Updated
at 12.15am BST

10.49pm BST
22:49

Victoria’s premier, Daniel Andrews, yesterday pointed the finger at insecure work as one of the main reasons why people in Melbourne were going to work when sick, or worse, when awaiting coronavirus test results.

He told reporters yesterday that nine in 10 people who tested positive over a two-week period in July told contact tracers that they had not been self-isolating since they first showed symptoms – that is, they had been going to the supermarket, seeing friends and family or even going to work. One in two said they continued to do so after they got tested while awaiting their results.

There is a $1,500 hardship payment available in Victoria for people who do not have sick leave but it’s only available to people who have tested positive to Covid-19.

Sally McManus, the secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, said if we want to make sure people stop attending work the minute they get symptoms we need a better form of income support, which kicks in much earlier.

She said it could be equivalent to jobkeeper and payable when people report they are unwell. Asked by the Radio National Breakfast host, Fan Kelly, if the cost of that would not be enormous, McManus said:

Well, at the moment it will cost more than it would if the policy works. If the policy works then we will stop the virus and it will cost nothing.

So, at the moment it is at its peak, but if we introduce it now it will drop down and, let me tell you, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to lockdown.

Updated
at 12.14am BST

10.30pm BST
22:30

Good morning,

Josh Frydenberg will reveal the largest budget deficit since the second world war when he gives the budget update today. It’s due to a combination of the unprecedented fiscal support unrolled to support workers through the coronavirus and a massive contraction in revenue caused by the same. Not helping is the fact that the economic growth in Australia had last year already slowed to the lowest level since the GFC.

Meanwhile, in Victoria, police have said they will show discretion over the next week in enforcing the mandatory wearing of face masks, which came into effect at midnight last night. Face masks, or other facial coverings like a bandana or scarf, are mandatory whenever people are out and about in the greater Melbourne and Mitchell shire lockdown areas and are recommended throughout the rest of the state. There are some exceptions, including teachers who are delivering lessons and reporters doing live crosses.

Michael Rowland
(@mjrowland68)

An explanation on why our on-air Melbourne reporters won’t be wearing masks during their crosses to @BreakfastNews (but will have them on before and after). These are the official guidelines from the @VicGovDHHS. Hearing-impaired viewers need to see reporters’ faces. pic.twitter.com/COOrpvjU9G

July 22, 2020

Children under 12 and people who cannot wear a face covering for a medical or behavioural reason are also exempt. I’ll bring you more of the police comments on this in a moment.

Those of us in the Melbourne and Mitchell shire lockdown area have now been under lockdown for 14 days. So, happy anniversary. Yesterday Victoria recorded 484 new cases in 24 hours – higher than the previous national total. And the state’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, has said we can expect a few more days with case numbers about 500 to 600.

In NSW, residents and staff at the Ashfield Baptist Homes aged care home are awaiting the results of coronavirus tests after a staff member tested positive following a meal at the Thai Rock restaurant in Sydney’s west. The staff member in question didn’t work while symptomatic. As of yesterday there were 37 cases associated with the Thai Rock restaurant cluster.

In Melbourne there are 45 aged care facilities with at least one Covid-19 case, split about 50-50 between residents and staff.

Let’s crack on. You can follow me on Twitter at @callapilla or email me at calla.wahlquist@theguardian.com.

Updated
at 12.11am BST





Source link