Dear Industry Leaders,
So much has happened since my last update on Friday, so today I will just focus on domestic developments.
Australian Governments Respond – restrictions & support
Australian Governments have implemented further restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, while at the same time introducing measures to support jobs, businesses and the economy through the crisis. There’s been a lot to absorb, so at the bottom of this note is quite a lengthy summary.
Government Hotline for more information – 13 28 46
The Federal Government has established an advice hotline for small and medium-sized businesses (13 28 46).
Domestic Travel – avoid non-essential
You will have all seen the announcement for all non- essential travel to be avoided, made in the lead up to the school holidays.
TA’s One Stop Shop for Industry Support – Updated Daily
To help you navigate the change and access any financial support available, we have created a One-Stop-Shop of information on our website.
TA Webinars Every Friday – Invites to come
Now that there is so much information out there as people face a mountain of decisions, and work remotely, we will be starting weekly webinars each Friday. This will start off with information specific to the tourism sector from experts ranging from what support is out there for the Industry, to how to keep marketing and manage social media, and to how to best manage mental health. An invite will come out over the next day.
FURTHER RESTRICTIONS AND SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES
The Prime Minister, state and territory Premiers and Chief Ministers met on 22 March 2020 as the National Cabinet. They agreed to further actions to support social distancing measures already put in place and protect the Australian community from the spread of coronavirus as set out below:
Places of social gathering
National Cabinet agreed to move to more widespread restrictions on social gatherings.
Premiers and Chief Ministers agreed to implement, through state and territory laws, new Stage 1 restrictions on social gatherings, to be reviewed on a monthly basis.
Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least 6 months.
The following facilities have been restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:
- Pubs, registered and licensed 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).
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 including all domestic holiday travel.
Premiers and Chief Ministers agreed to consider further Stage 2 restrictions if social distancing measures are not adhered to.
In addition to these new rules States and Territories are also introducing their own reforms.
States and vulnerable communities close borders
In addition to these new rules States and Territories are also introducing their own reforms. In particular, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland as well as Hamilton Island, Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands have imposed further border either to respond to bans on non-essential travel or to protect vulnerable communities.
Iconic beaches closed
Over the weekend Sydney beaches stretching from the Eastern Suburbs, including Australia’s iconic Bondi Beach to Palm Beach on the Northern Beaches were closed as the number of people on those beaches exceeded the 500 person rule.
ECONOMIC STIMULUS FOR THOSE AFFECTED BY THE CORONAVIRUS
On 22 March the Australian Government announced a second economic stimulus package to help support those businesses, workers and households affected by coronavirus restrictions. The second package of $66 billion builds on that unveiled last week and brings the Government’s total support at this time to a total of $189 billion. The Government is moving quickly to implement this package. To that end, a package of Bills was introduced into Parliament today (23 March 2020) designed to support businesses in managing short-term cash flow challenges, provide support to individuals, severely affected communities and regions, and to ensure the continued flow of credit in the Australian economy.
A summary of those measures follows:
- Support for individuals and households
The Government will provide payments to assist lower-income Australians, including pensioners, other social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.
Income support for individuals
Over the next six months, 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 Jobseeker Payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.
Payments to support households
The Government is providing two separate $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. The first payment will be made from 31 March 2020 and the second payment will be made from 13 July 2020.
Temporary early release of superannuation
The Government is allowing individuals affected by the coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.
Temporarily reducing 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 with account-based pensions and similar products by reducing the need to sell investment assets to fund minimum drawdown requirements.
Reducing social security deeming rates
On 12 March, the Government announced a 0.5 percentage point reduction in both the upper and lower social security deeming rates. The Government will now reduce these rates by another 0.25 percentage points.
- Support for businesses
Boosting Cash Flow for Employers
The Government is enhancing the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure it announced on 12 March 2020. The Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses, and not-for-profits (NFPs) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will help businesses and NFPs with their cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.
Small and medium-sized business entities with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible. NFPs, 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.
Under the enhanced scheme, 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.
An additional payment is also being introduced in the July — October 2020 period. Eligible entities will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all of the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments they have received. This means that eligible entities will receive at least $20,000 up to a total of $100,000 under both payments.
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 to initiate bankrupt proceedings against an individual as well as temporarily increasing the time companies and individuals have to respond to statutory demands they receive. The package also includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent, and providing temporary flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001 to provide targeted relief from provisions of the Act to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the coronavirus health crisis.
The ATO will tailor solutions for owners or directors of business that are currently struggling due to the coronavirus, including temporary reduction of payments or deferrals, or withholding enforcement actions including Director Penalty Notices and wind-ups.
Increasing the instant asset write-off
The Government is increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanding access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020. In 2017-18 there were more than 360,000 businesses that benefited from the current instant asset write-off, claiming deductions to the value of over $4 billion.
Backing business investment
The Government is introducing a time-limited 15 month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50 per cent of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset’s cost.
Supporting apprentices and trainees
The Government is supporting small business to retain their apprentices and trainees. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice. Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter).
Support for coronavirus-affected regions, communities and airlines
The Government will set aside $1 billion to support regions most significantly affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. These funds will be available to assist during the outbreak and the recovery. In addition, the Government is assisting our airline industry by providing relief from a number of taxes and Government charges estimated to total up to $715 million.
- Supporting the flow of credit
The Government, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority have taken coordinated action to ensure the flow of credit in the Australian economy. Timely access to credit is vital for businesses to manage the impacts of the Coronavirus.
Support for immediate cash flow needs for SMEs
Under the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme, the Government will provide a guarantee of 50 per cent to SME lenders to support new short-term unsecured loans to SMEs. The Scheme will guarantee up to $40 billion of new lending. This will provide businesses with funding to meet cash flow needs, by further enhancing lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit.
Quick and efficient access to credit for small business
The Government is cutting red tape by providing a temporary exemption from responsible lending obligations for lenders providing credit to existing small business customers. This reform will help small businesses get access to credit quickly and efficiently.
Reserve Bank of Australia — Supporting the flow and reducing the cost of credit
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced a package on 19 March 2020 that will put downward pressure on borrowing costs for households and businesses. This will help mitigate the adverse consequences of the Coronavirus on businesses and support their day-to-day trading operations. The RBA is supporting small businesses as a particular priority.
The RBA announced a term funding facility for the banking system. Banks will have access to at least $90 billion in funding at a fixed interest rate of 0.25 per cent. This will reinforce the benefits of a lower cash rate by reducing funding costs for banks, which in turn will help reduce interest rates for borrowers. To encourage lending to businesses, the facility offers additional low-cost funding to banks if they expand their business lending, with particular incentives applying to new loans to SMEs.
In addition, the RBA announced a further easing in monetary policy by reducing the cash rate to 0.25 per cent. It is also extending and complementing the interest rate cut by taking active steps to target a 0.25 per cent yield on 3-year Australian Government Securities.
Support for Non-ADI and smaller ADI lenders in the securitisation market
The Government is providing the Australian Office of Financial Management (AOFM) with $15 billion to invest in structured finance markets used by smaller lenders, including non-Authorised Deposit-Taking Institutions (non-ADI) and smaller Authorised Deposit-Taking Institutions (ADI). This support will be provided by making direct investments in primary market securitisations by these lenders and in warehouse facilities.
Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority — Ensuring banks are well placed to lend
The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority has announced temporary changes to its expectations regarding bank capital ratios. The changes will support banks’ lending to customers, particularly if they wish to take advantage of the new facility being offered by the RBA.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information on the Australian Government’s Economic Response to the coronavirus visit treasury.gov.au/coronavirus.
STATES AND TERRITORIES
States and Territories have also announced their own support packages.
Managing Director| Executive | Tourism Australia
IMPORTANT INFORMATION - 18 - 03 -2020
Today our Governor-General accepted the Commonwealth Government’s recommendation that he declare a “human biosecurity emergency” under the Biosecurity Act 2015, given the risks the coronavirus poses to human health and the need to control its spread in Australia.
As a result, a raft of new measures have been announced. These measures, designed to protect the Australian community from the coronavirus, are expected to last for six months or more and will have an enormous impact on our industry. And they are constantly under review, so we will continue to update you with new information as it occurs.
In light of the new restrictions, we have regrettably taken the decision to cancel our Australian Tourism Exchange event due to take place in Melbourne in May. Tourism Australia will be providing a full refund of registration fees to all buyer and seller delegates. We continue to review all future events on an ongoing basis, including talking to relevant partners and will share updates as relevant.
Whilst we are scaling back out marketing activities in the current environment, we are busy preparing our recovery plans to ensure that Australia is on the front foot from a domestic and international perspective as the world starts to travel again – and they will.
A summary of the latest restrictions is below. You can view the full communique from the Australian Government here https://www.pm.gov.au/media/update-coronavirus-measures The National Cabinet has outlined that it will consider further social distancing arrangements at its next meeting on Friday (20 March 2020). We will keep you posted as new information becomes available.
Once again, I want to reiterate that our thoughts are with the entire industry at such a difficult and confronting time. So many of you are having to face the grim business realities and very tough decisions ahead.
In the midst of managing the business impacts of the crisis, here are 5 things you might want to think about.
1. Make sure you are following health and safety guidance from the Department of Health https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
2. Communicate what health and safety measures you are taking in your business to your customers and partners.
3. The Department of Health has launched a national campaign to inform all Australians about the coronavirus. They have developed a range of resources for businesses to use, find out more here
4. The Australian, State and Territory Governments have announced a series of measures to support businesses and individuals during this difficult time. Find out more here
5. Look after your mental health and reach out if you need help https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak
Australians advised not to travel overseas and to return home as soon as possible The National Security Committee of Cabinet has today decided to raise the advice for all overseas travel to the highest level. Its advice to all Australians – regardless of destination, age or health – is ‘do not travel overseas at this time’. This the highest travel advice setting – Level 4 of 4 and has never before been activated. In addition, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has advised Australians who are overseas and who wish to return to Australia, to do so as soon as possible by commercial means as these may soon become limited. A number of commercial carriers have shut down or reduced their international flight schedules, including Qantas and Virgin Australia. Anyone arriving in Australia from overseas, including Australian citizens and permanent residents, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days from the date of arrival.
Aviation Industry Support
The Commonwealth Government has also today announced an aviation package for the refunding and ongoing waiving of a range of Government charges, including aviation fuel excise, air services charges on domestic airline operations and domestic and regional aviation security charges. These measures are in response to the unprecedented and likely sustained period of falling international and domestic aviation demand related to the impact of the coronavirus. The total cost of the measures is estimated to be $715 million, with an upfront estimated benefit of $159 million to our airlines for reimbursement of applicable charges paid by domestic airlines since 1 February 2020.
Further restrictions on large indoor gatherings are now in place As part of its efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Australia, the National Cabinet has accepted further restrictions on gatherings. Non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people will no longer be permitted from today (Wednesday 18 March 2020). An indoor gathering refers to a gathering within a single enclosed area (i.e. an area, room or premises that is or are substantially enclosed by a roof and walls, regardless of whether the roof or walls or any part of them are permanent, temporary, open or closed). This does not apply to essential activities such as public transportation facilities, medical and health care facilities, pharmacies, emergency service facilities, correctional facilities, youth justice centres or other places of custody, courts or tribunals, Parliaments, food markets, supermarkets and grocery stores, shopping centres, office buildings, factories, construction sites, and mining sites, where it is necessary for their normal operation (although other social distancing and hygiene practices may be required in these settings).
The states and territories will give further consideration to practical guidance and rules for non-essential indoor gatherings of fewer than 100 people such as cinemas, theatres, restaurants/cafes, pubs, clubs, weddings and funerals. This will be considered at the next National Cabinet meeting on Friday 20 March 2020. In the meantime, these venues should continue to apply social distancing and hygiene practices, including:
* Being able to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between patrons; and
* Hand hygiene products and suitable waste receptacles being made available, with frequent cleaning and waste disposal.
This may require significant changes to the operation of some venues, such as reducing the maximum capacity or increasing the space available.
Settings like gyms, indoor fitness centres and swimming pools are not required to close at this time providing they meet these requirements for social distancing and hand hygiene. Such venues should take actions to ensure regular high standards of environmental cleaning take place.
New advice on large outdoor events
As of this morning, the National Cabinet has extended the restrictions on outdoor gatherings of fewer than 500 people and has provided additional advice regarding how to manage these.
There are now general measures that all events should follow:
* In a given occupied space, there must be no more than one person per four square metres of ground space.
* Availability of hand hygiene products and suitable waste receptacles, with frequent cleaning and waste disposal.
Food markets are exempt from the 500 person limit, however must undertake additional measures, such as control of patronage level numbers or stall density reduction to decrease the risk of coronavirus transmission. There may be other gatherings that are considered essential and it is at the discretion of the individual state and territory Chief Medical Officers or equivalent to assess each on their merits, and determine whether they can continue if mitigated by social distancing measures.
Domestic transport remains operational and is low risk National Cabinet agreed that all Australians should only consider travelling when it is essential. If unwell, people must stay at home, unless seeking medical care.
National Cabinet agreed that public transport is essential and that AHPPC advice should apply in relation to public transport (trains, trams, buses, ferries), taxi and ride share vehicles and transport of vulnerable populations, with particular attention given to cleaning and hygiene.
National Cabinet agreed that domestic air travel is low risk. The issue of where people are travelling to and sensitive locations where travel should be restricted, will be developed with advice of states and territories. The National Cabinet will further consider social distancing arrangements for domestic transport at its next meeting on Friday 20 March 2020. In all cases, appropriate social distancing and hygiene practices should be applied.
Protecting Indigenous and NDIS Australia Further work will be progressed by Friday 20 March 2020 and will include additional support for vulnerable Australians including indigenous communities and NDIS participants. The Department of Social Services (DSS), National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) are working together to respond to COVID-19 and its impact on the NDIS.
Additional Support for International Student Nurses The Commonwealth Government will relax international student nurse visa work conditions to provide workforce continuity for aged care facilities, home care providers and other health care workers. This will allow international student nurses and other aged care workers to work more than the 40 hours a fortnight that they are currently. This measure will be examined on an ongoing basis.
Managing Director| Executive | Tourism Australia
LATEST IMPORTANT INFORMATION - 16 - 03 -2020
UPDATE PROVIDED BY TOURISM AUSTRALIA
Dear Senior Industry Leaders,
We know that like us, you are closely watching the latest developments on the global coronavirus pandemic. With that in mind, we are continuing to share our latest updates. Recent key developments primarily relate to the Government’s decision over the weekend to introduce mandatory self-isolation for all inbound travelers and bans on cruise ships that have docked at international ports.
At Tourism Australia we are continuing to assess all our activities on a day by day basis in the current environment. All international campaign activity aimed at driving immediate bookings is being suspended. Any activities focused on shaping longer term consumer desire to visit Australia in the future are constantly under review to ensure their appropriateness and effectiveness. We will provide an update in coming days in relation to ATE and also our Domestic campaign activities.
Australia quarantines all international arrivals and temporarily bans cruise ships
From midnight 15 March, all passengers arriving in Australia will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days from their arrival. Cruise ships that have docked in international ports will be banned from docking in Australia for the next 30 days.
Australia bans on non-essential static gatherings
On the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the Prime Minister announced further social distancing measures. Social distancing includes ways to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. It means less contact between you and other people. From Monday 16 March, non-essential static gatherings of more than 500 people will be banned across all Australian States and Territories. All States and Territories have today passed legislation to implement the ban. Schools, universities, workplaces and public transport are not affected by the ban. Further arrangements are being developed by the AHPPC to protect the most vulnerable of Australia’s population, specifically: aged care and remote communities. Additional restrictions are expected to be decided when Cabinet reconvenes on Tuesday 17 March and announced the following day.
Government establishes Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit
The Australian Government yesterday announced the creation of a new Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit in Treasury to build on existing efforts to support confidence, employment and business continuity. The role of the Unit will be to engage with peak business groups on systemic issues relating to Coronavirus to ensure these are being addressed by Government. It will be staffed by experienced officials drawn from agencies across the Australian Public Service and will work closely with the private sector. It will also be a source of information for business groups on the Australian Government’s response to Coronavirus and the actions that agencies are taking to support business at this difficult time. This will allow for information to be disseminated quickly and effectively across the business community. It will work closely with the Chief Medical Officer, the Department of Health and the National Coordination Mechanism in the Department of Home Affairs. The Unit will be overseen by Dr Gordon de Brouwer, a highly respected and experienced former public servant having held senior roles across Treasury, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and as the Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Energy.
The Unit has begun operating and works through peak business groups. If you want to connect into this process, you should get in touch with your relevant industry association in the first instance.
Government launches national coronavirus campaign
The Federal Government today launched a national campaign to inform all Australians about the coronavirus. The campaign aims to reduce the risk to individuals and families by enabling them to make informed decisions and to take up health recommendations. You can access the campaign materials here.
Confirmed cases of coronavirus increasing
Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia are increasing and have reached 298, 134 of which are in NSW. 27 people are reported to have cleared their infections.
Europe now the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic
On Saturday, the Head of the World Health Organisation declared Europe the ‘epicentre’ of the coronavirus with more cases now reported in Europe each day than in China at its peak. More than 169,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed globally with more than half of these outside China.
New Zealand imposes mandatory quarantine for international arrivals
From 1am Monday 16 March 2020 all travelers to New Zealand, (including New Zealand citizens or residents) must self-isolate for 14 days. The temporary measures, announced by Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern on Saturday, aimed at reducing New Zealand’s exposure to the coronavirus, do not apply to South Pacific nations. Cruise ships have also been advised that they will be refused entry to New Zealand ports. Speaking at a press conference on Saturday Prime Minister Ardern said that the measures will be reviewed in 15 days.
Trump declares US State of Emergency and extends Europe ban to the UK and Ireland
On Saturday 14 March, US President Trump declared a national emergency allowing him to activate a national response to the coronavirus and access to USD40billion in disaster-relief funds to address the coronavirus. In addition, the Europe travel ban was extended to arrivals from the UK and Ireland. Americans in these countries will be able to come home but will be funneled through specific airports and processed.
More countries close borders as coronavirus cases rise
The rapid spread of the virus through Europe and increasing death toll continues to have a dramatic impact on travel and freedom of movement globally. A number of governments have announced full or partial plans to close to their borders to foreigners, including the Czech Republic, Norway, Poland, Denmark, Austria, Turkey, Pakistan, Israel, Jordan, India, Cambodia and Hong Kong.
Beijing mandates 14 day quarantine for all international arrivals
The Beijing municipal government has decreed that all travelers from outside the Chinese mainland, regardless of nationality, will have to stay in designated isolation centres for 14 days upon arriving in the city to prevent people spreading the disease to their families and within their communities.
California closes restaurants, nightclubs and wineries
The Governor of California has directed the closure of all bars, wineries, nightclubs and brewpubs in the state and called for all seniors age 65 years or older to stay in home isolation to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The directive came on Sunday as it was announced that the virus had killed six people in California, with 335 cases confirmed – now the third largest number of cases in the nation, after Washington and New York.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) members voluntarily suspend travel
Worldwide, individual CLIA cruise lines yesterday announced temporary suspensions of cruise ship operations in response to the coronavirus. These have been enacted in addition to suspensions that apply in specific countries and regions.