Coronavirus


Government response to COVID-19, 26 March 2020

Contents

  • Federal government update
  • Tourism sector update
  • Key government announcements for business (download the pdf to gain full information)

Federal Government

National COVID-19 Commission

  • The Commonwealth Government has established a new National COVID-19 Coordination Commission that will coordinate advice to the Government on actions to anticipate and mitigate the economic and social effects of the pandemic.
  • Mr Neville Power has been appointed Chair. The other members of this board are Greg Combet; Jane Houlton, whose last role was as head of the Finance Department; Paul Little, former head of Toll; Katherine Tanner, head of Energy Australia and who sits on the Reserve Bank of Australia board. The deputy chair of the organisation will be Mr David Thodey, chair of the CSIRO. The board will be joined by Phil Gaetjens as the Secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Secretary of the Home Affairs Department, Mike Pezullo. – Prime Minister of Australia, 25 March 2020

Coronavirus Economic Response package passes Federal Parliament

  • The Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 legislative package implementing the Government’s economic response to the spread of the Coronavirus, which the Government announced between 12 and 22 March 2020, received assent from the Governor-General on 24 March 2020. – Federal Parliament, 24 March 2020

Tourism, accommodation and short-term rentals

Tourism Australia webinar with Minister Birmingham

  • On Friday 27 March, Minister Birmingham will talk about different government initiatives in response to COVID-19.
  • This is the first of weekly webinars that Tourism Australia will be hosting to update the industry on the latest announcements and measures being made to support industry during this crisis – Tourism Australia

Victorian Accommodation Inventory

  • Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) has been approached to assist the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions to quickly secure inventory so that they can provide accommodation as a precautionary quarantine measure for the purposes of self-isolation, housing vulnerable people, and/or to support essential service workers.
  • The government will support this initiative and will provide a financial contribution to secure these rooms for a period of time, initially up to a three-month period.
    • They are prepared to offer $120 per room per night (inclusive of GST) for a committed period of 3 months, with potential for further activation depending on future need.
  • They are working as quickly as possible to provide extra capacity and will need accommodation providers in both metropolitan Melbourne and regional communities to provide information on the inventory they are prepared to contribute to this effort quickly, so they can understand where there is available supply and the types of room available.
  • In this initial phase, government will be seeking to secure 1000 rooms for this inventory pool, with the potential for more as demand dictates.
  • At this stage it is only VTIC that has been requested to facilitate this offer.
  • It’s possible that this concept will be extended to other facilities such as convention centres, who are already part of emergency response plans for other critical events requiring evacuation and sheltering.

Accommodation Association of Australia offer to federal government

  • On behalf of Quest Apartment Hotels, the Accommodation Association of Australia (AAA) made a formal offer to the federal government last week to turn up to 80 of its hotels into quarantine or isolation facilities as they require them.
  • Western Australian Premier, Mark McGowan, on Sunday warned his state government was looking at acquiring hotels for the purpose of quarantining people.
  • Again, this concept to be extended to include other facilities such as convention centres.

– Australian Financial Review, 23 March 2020

Postponement of September local government elections in NSW

  • The NSW Government has made the decision to postpone the September local government elections for 12 months in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The NSW Electoral Commissioner has also requested that the Government postpone the council elections.

– Minister for Local Government, 25 March 2020

Please download the entire Government response to COVID-19, 26 March 2020 in pdf

LATEST IMPORTANT INFORMATION - 23 - 03 -2020

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Phillipa Harrison
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
https://www.health.gov.au/news/launch-of-the-coronavirus-covid-19-campaign

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
www.business.gov.au/risk-management/emergency-management/coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business

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.

Phillipa Harrison
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

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.

GLOBAL

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.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 13.03.20

AUSTRALIA

Prime Minister advises cancellation of mass gatherings and urges Australians not to travel overseas. Following a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments in Sydney today, Commonwealth, State and Territory governments agreed to provide public advice against holding non-essential, organised public gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday 16th March 2020. Essential services such as schools, workplaces, hospitals, public transportation, domestic travel and universities as well as public transient places such as shopping centres will not be impacted.

In addition, travel advice (smartraveller.gov.au) for all Australians travelling overseas has been upgraded to level 3 – ‘reconsider your need for overseas travel at this time.’ Regardless of destination, age or health, Australians are now advised against non-essential overseas travel.

These recommendations were agreed as a precautionary approach to slow the spread of the coronavirus based on the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee (AHPPC).

We’re currently reviewing the implications this announcement has for our program of industry and trade events, including talking to relevant partners. This includes our forthcoming Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) event due to take place in Melbourne in May. We will provide a further update on this shortly and make sure all registered delegates are fully informed of future decisions.

Read the new advice here.

Government health experts advise against a Europe travel ban
Following a request from the Prime Minister yesterday to review all travel from Europe, the Australian government’s top health advisers have told the National Security Committee that they do not recommend putting a travel ban on Europe at this stage.

Melbourne Grand Prix cancelled
The event due to go ahead today (without spectators) was later cancelled by F1 bosses following the withdrawal of the McClaren Team, one of whose members tested positive for the coronavirus.

GLOBAL

WHO stresses need to continue containment approach
At the Member States information session held yesterday, the WHO Director-General reiterated that countries should not give up on stopping the outbreak now that WHO has characterized it as a pandemic, stating “A shift from containment to mitigation would be wrong and dangerous. This is a controllable pandemic”. For detailed information, please see here.

Trump implements Europe travel ban
The President of the United States yesterday announced a ban on foreign travellers from Europe to the USA for a period of 30 days.

More countries implement coronavirus lockdowns
France, Ireland and Denmark have this week closed childcare centres, schools and universities and imposed restrictions on large-scale gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Italy also remains in lockdown as numbers of the virus continue to grow.

New York Governor closes Broadway
Public gatherings of 500 people or more are banned in New York starting today following a directive from Governor Andrew Cuomo.  Cuomo said the aim is to reduce population density to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The ban effectively shuts down Broadway shows, and other large performance venues, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, which announced on its website that all performances are cancelled immediately, through March 31st. In addition, venues that seat fewer than 500 people must reduce their capacity by 50 per cent.

India suspends foreign visas
The Indian government has moved to drastically limit the number of people it allows to enter the country, suspending visas for visitors from all other countries until at least 15 April in effort to limit its exposure to the coronavirus pandemic. Indians nationals have been advised against all non-essential overseas travel.

Cruise Lines voluntarily halt operations
Princess Cruises and Viking Cruises have today announced suspension of their operations until at least 11 May and 30 April respectively in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION - 12 - 03 -2020

Q: The WHO has declared the coronavirus a pandemic, what does this mean?

A: On 11 March the WHO assessed that the coronavirus can be characterised as a pandemic.

  • WHO outlined that in the past two weeks, the number of cases of the coronavirus outside China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled.
  • In the days and weeks ahead, WHO expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher.
  • is deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

New travel restrictions, updated advice and screening to safeguard Australia from the coronavirus

Following a meeting of the National Security Committee of Cabinet yesterday (5 March 2020), the Prime Minister announced the introduction of new travel restrictions, updated travel advice and the implementation of new screening measures as part of the Government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the changing situation internationally.  The measures are part of Australia’s ongoing strategy of containment and minimising risk to the Australian community as detailed in its Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Coronavirus activated last week.  A transcript of the Prime Minister’s press conference explaining the rationale behind the Committee’s decisions can be read here.

Advice to tourism operators

The advice to tourism operators in relation to the new measures from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer is also attached.

WHO- no declaration of pandemic – but raised global risk assessment
While the World Health Organisation (WHO) is yet to declare the coronavirus a global pandemic it has raised its global risk assessment to ‘very high’ while stressing the need for countries to act to contain the virus. Speaking at a press conference yesterday, the WHO Director-General stated “This epidemic can be pushed back, but only with a collective, coordinated and comprehensive approach that engages the entire machinery of government. We are calling on every country to act with speed, scale and clear-minded determination.”

Temporary border restrictions for travellers from China and Iran extended The Government has extended temporary border restrictions for travellers from China and Iran.These restrictions will be reviewed again by 13 March 2020.

Temporary border restrictions for travellers from the Republic of Korea Yesterday border restrictions for travellers from Korea were increased to the same level as travellers from China and Iran. In particular:·       Foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents of Australia) who are in the Republic of Korea will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through the country.

Australian citizens will still be able to enter Australia (as will their immediate family members (spouses, legal guardians or dependents only). They will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the date they left the Republic of Korea.

Increased travel advisories for travel to Korea

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has raised its travel advisory for the Republic of Korea to ‘reconsider your need to travel’ (level 3 of 4) up from ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ (level 2).  The travel advice to the Korean city of Daegu has also been raised to the highest level – ‘do not travel’ due to the significant outbreak of COVID-19 there.

Additional inbound screening procedures for travellers from Italy

For arrivals from Italy to Australia, enhanced health screening and temperature testing arrangements are now in place.  Travellers arriving in Australia from Italy, must present for health screening at the border. They are not required to self-isolate unless they are a healthcare or residential aged care worker, in which case they must not attend work for 14 days.

Coronavirus cases globally and in Australia

There have been approximately 98,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus (approximately 80,000 of which are in China) and over 3,300 deaths. Close to 54,000 people have recovered from the virus. Australia has reported 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 22 patients having made a full recovery.In recent days, Australia has recorded its first cases of local transmission of COVID-19 and sadly the death of one person associated with the Diamond Princess cruise ship repatriation flight from Japan to the Northern Territory  as well as an elderly person in an aged care facility. 

Stay informed

As the coronavirus situation continues to evolve we encourage you to stay up-to-date with the latest information from the relevant authorities.More information including FAQs about coronavirus can be found on the Department of Health’s website or Australia.com and travel advisories on DFAT’s Smart Traveller site.
It’s a busy time for all of us in the industry, but time and time again I am so impressed by how united our sector is in facing these challenges – so thank you all for your support for TA and each other.

Practising good hand and sneeze / cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses.

1. wash hands often with soap and water before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet
2. avoid contact with others (including touching, kissing, hugging, and other intimate contact)
3. cough and sneeze into their elbow.

CONTACTS

If you have any queries or comments, please let Bede Fennell or I know. bfennell@tourism.australia.com

Phillipa Harrison
Managing Director | Tourism Australia

T: +61 2 9361 1303 | M: +61 (0) 439 131 185 | E: pharrison@tourism.australia.com

Office: Level 29 420 George Street Sydney 2000

LATEST FACT SHEETS

Update 2/03/2020

Dear tourism industry operators,

Following previous correspondence, I am writing to provide further advice regarding the coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19).

There are signs the spread of the virus in China is slowing. However, Hubei province remains locked down by Chinese authorities.

In the past week there has been significant growth in the number of cases in countries others than China, including South Korea, Italy, and Iran. The situation in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore also remains a concern.

We have also seen a number of cases in the passengers evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Evidence suggests the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran may be one of the largest outside of the Hubei province in China. Given this, the Government has introduced travel restrictions for Iran, mirroring the ones currently in place for China. Travel advice for Iran has been raised to Level 4 – ‘Do Not Travel’.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) does not support further widespread application of travel restrictions to an increasing number of countries that have community transmission.

The AHPPC also believes that the current travel restrictions regarding mainland China continue to be successful in reducing the volume of travel from mainland China.
We recognise the significant impact on the tourism industry of our recent decisions to protect the Australian population from this virus.

These changes have not been made lightly and we are very focused on ensuring our advice is proportionate.

To summarise, in addition to the existing arrangements for mainland China, the following arrangements have been put in place for travellers from Iran:

Effective immediately, Australia will deny entry to anyone who has left or transited through Iran in the last 14 days, with the exception of Australian citizens, permanent residents, and immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents including spouses, minor dependants and legal guardians.
Australian citizens who have left or transited through Iran in the last 14 days must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of leaving Iran.
People who have had close contact with a proven cases of novel coronavirus must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of last contact.

I would note again that the risk of transmission of the virus from people who are well is very low as most people are likely to only be infectious when they develop symptoms. It is as a precautionary measure that we are isolating people who remain well.

For those hotels which decide to have guests that require isolation, we have factsheets for hotel management and staff and hotel guests with the latest health advice and details on what actions to take. These are available to download and distribute from health.gov.au.

We hope that these fact sheets will reassure staff and guests that the risks imposed by self-isolation of well people are very low.

If you or your staff do become aware of someone who should be in isolation and is not following health advice or have other public health concerns, contact your state or territory public health authority on the below numbers:

  • ACT call 02 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours
  • NSW call 1300 066 055
  • NT call 08 8922 8044
  • Qld call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
  • SA call 1300 232 272
  • Tas call 1800 671 738
  • Vic call 1300 651 160
  • WA call 08 9328 0553

We will continue to provide regular updates at www.health.gov.au
Yours sincerely

Professor Brendan Murphy
Chief Medical Officer

Download the Coronavirus FAQs

Dear tourism industry operators,

Following previous correspondence, I am writing to provide further advice regarding the coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19).

There are signs the spread of the virus in China is slowing. However, Hubei province remains locked down by Chinese authorities.

In the past week there has been significant growth in the number of cases in countries others than China, including South Korea, Italy, and Iran. The situation in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore also remains a concern.

We have also seen a number of cases in the passengers evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Evidence suggests the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran may be one of the largest outside of the Hubei province in China. Given this, the Government has introduced travel restrictions for Iran, mirroring the ones currently in place for China. Travel advice for Iran has been raised to Level 4 – ‘Do Not Travel’.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) does not support further widespread application of travel restrictions to an increasing number of countries that have community transmission.

The AHPPC also believes that the current travel restrictions regarding mainland China continue to be successful in reducing the volume of travel from mainland China.
We recognise the significant impact on the tourism industry of our recent decisions to protect the Australian population from this virus.

These changes have not been made lightly and we are very focused on ensuring our advice is proportionate.

To summarise, in addition to the existing arrangements for mainland China, the following arrangements have been put in place for travellers from Iran:

Effective immediately, Australia will deny entry to anyone who has left or transited through Iran in the last 14 days, with the exception of Australian citizens, permanent residents, and immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents including spouses, minor dependants and legal guardians.
Australian citizens who have left or transited through Iran in the last 14 days must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of leaving Iran.
People who have had close contact with a proven cases of novel coronavirus must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of last contact.

I would note again that the risk of transmission of the virus from people who are well is very low as most people are likely to only be infectious when they develop symptoms. It is as a precautionary measure that we are isolating people who remain well.

For those hotels which decide to have guests that require isolation, we have factsheets for hotel management and staff and hotel guests with the latest health advice and details on what actions to take. These are available to download and distribute from health.gov.au.

We hope that these fact sheets will reassure staff and guests that the risks imposed by self-isolation of well people are very low.

If you have any queries or comments, please let Bede Fennell or I know. bfennell@tourism.australia.com

Phillipa Harrison
Managing Director | Tourism Australia

T: +61 2 9361 1303 | M: +61 (0) 439 131 185 | E: pharrison@tourism.australia.com

Office: Level 29 420 George Street Sydney 2000

Subject: Tourism Australia Update 29 Feb 20
Dear Industry Leaders

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread in a growing number of countries across several continents. We are continuing to monitor the situation very closely, following the health advice provided by theWorld Health Organisation (WHO) and Australia’s Department of Health.Overnight, ITB has been cancelled.

No pandemic declared at this stage
Over the last few days there has been a lot of speculation about whether the current coronavirus outbreak will be declared a pandemic, and the implications such a move might have for Australia and, specifically, for our industry. At this stage, a pandemic has not been declared. However, the Australian Government is of course heightening its level of preparedness for such an occurrence.

Emergency Response Plan for Coronavirus activated
On Thursday (27 February 2020), the Prime Minister announced the activation of the ‘Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)’. The Australian Government also announced it would extend for a further week (to 7 March 2020) the entry restrictions on foreign nationals who have recently been in mainland China. As at 29 February 2020, a total of 84,117 cases of COVID-19 have been reported globally, including 2,872 deaths. The majority of cases have been reported from mainland China (78,824), with 5,923 cases reported from 55 countries and regions outside of mainland China.

Travel Advice for Australians
Due to a heightened risk of sustained local transmission, DFAT has also raised the level of travel advice for parts of Italy as well as Mongolia and Iran. For up-to-date travel advice, visit the DFAT Smart Traveller website.

Travel Restrictions into Australia
Further travel restrictions into Australia are not being recommended at this stage. To find out more information, refer to the statement issued by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee on 27th February.

Quarantine requirements remain in force
Strict quarantine requirements continue to apply to any travellers (including returning students) who have been in mainland China or been in close contact with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19. That is, self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of departure from mainland China or from the date of last contact with a confirmed case.

ITB Berlin Cancelled
Tourism Australia has been advised ITB Berlin 2020 has been cancelled. The organisers Messe Berlin have made the decision due to the increasing spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19 ) following advice from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health and Federal Ministry of Economics. Further information can be found on the ITB Berlin website here. The current travel advice for Germany is ‘exercise normal safety precautions’ (current at 0600 29 February AEDT). Further details regarding stand partner participation fees will be communicated as soon as possible.

Other travel events
More broadly, we carry out full risk assessments for all our own events as well as those that we routinely attend overseas. Additionally, we seek guidance from relevant health authorities and travel advisories. If any country or event is not deemed safe for attendees, we will not attend. We will continue to monitor other events daily but no other cancellations are planned at this stage.

Updates to follow
Obviously, this is an unpredictable and fast-moving issue. We will continue to take our lead the World Health Organisation and Australia’s Department of Health, and keep you informed as new information comes to hand, or advice is updated.

If you or your staff do become aware of someone who should be in isolation and is not following health advice or have other public health concerns, contact your state or territory public health authority on the below numbers:

  • ACT call 02 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours
  • NSW call 1300 066 055
  • NT call 08 8922 8044
  • Qld call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
  • SA call 1300 232 272
  • Tas call 1800 671 738
  • Vic call 1300 651 160
  • WA call 08 9328 0553

We will continue to provide regular updates at www.health.gov.au
Yours sincerely

Professor Brendan Murphy
Chief Medical Officer

Dear Senior Industry Leaders,

Global  

Global death toll from coronavirus surpasses SARS deaths

There are now over 44,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus across 25 countries. While the death toll now stands at over 1000 people (exceeding the 774 deaths from the SARS epidemic in 2003), almost 5000 people have recovered from the virus. The number of countries reporting confirmed cases of the virus outside of China remains at 25. For more information visit this heat map.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) adopts further screening measures

On 7 February, CLIA ocean-going member cruise lines agreed to adopt further enhanced screening measures intended to address the industry’s exposure to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. As follows:

  • CLIA Members are to deny boarding to all persons who have traveled from, visited or transited via airports in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, within 14 days before embarkation.
  • CLIA Members are to deny boarding to all persons who, within 14 days before embarkation, have had close contact with, or helped care for, anyone suspected or diagnosed as having Coronavirus, or who is currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure to Novel Coronavirus.
  • CLIA Members are to conduct preboarding screening necessary to effect these prevention measures. Enhanced screening and initial medical support are to be provided, as needed, to any persons exhibiting symptoms of suspected coronavirus.

Still no WHO recommendation to restrict international travel

The WHO continues to advise against any restrictions on international travel or trade.

China

More than 44,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in China

The death toll from the virus in mainland China has jumped to over 1000. The infection rate is reported at 2% of cases.

Australia

No change to number of confirmed cases in Australia

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Australia remains at 15: five cases in Queensland, two in South Australia, four in Victoria and four in New South Wales. An additional 11 Australians on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama have tested positive to the virus and two more are under investigation.

Australian coronavirus travel restrictions to be reviewed by 15 February

The Government has committed to a review of the restrictions by 15 February 2020.

LATEST FACT SHEETS

Staff: Information link

Hotel Guests: Information Link

BUSHFIRES

$10m grants program launched to assist bushfire affected regions

On 11 February the Government announced the Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Grants program (RTBR), a $10 million program drawn from the National Bushfire Recovery Fund.  The program forms part of the Federal Government’s $76 million tourism recovery package to help to protect jobs, small businesses and local economies by helping get tourists travelling to bushfire affected regions. It will have two funding streams which will support events, concerts, festivals and visitor attractions in fire affected regions to assist with recovery efforts and encourage international and domestic visitors to come back to the regions. The second stream will be targeted at the worst affected tourism regions. Austrade will administer the program, which has been developed in consultation with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency. To ensure communities can get access to funds quickly, the first stage of the grants program will focus on grants of up to $30,000, and events up to April 2020 with a streamlined application and assessment process facilitating decisions. Applications will be accepted from Monday 17 February 2020. For further information visit: https://www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Tourism/Tourism-and-business/Grants/regional-tourism-bushfire-recovery-grants

Tourism Australia collaborating with states and territories on recovery campaigns

We are currently finalising agreements that will see the Federal Government provide state and territory tourism organisations with a significant funding boost to support their marketing efforts to encourage Australians to holiday at home and support the bushfire and coronavirus recovery. TA is providing some funds as part of a dollar for dollar agreement. A number of campaigns have launched or are planned including:

 

Regards

Pip

Still no WHO recommendation to restrict international travel.

The WHO continues to advise against any restrictions on international travel or trade.

Global cases of coronavirus continue to rise – virus reaches Belgium. There are now over 24,500 confirmed cases of the coronavirus across countries. Belgium has reported its first confirmed case. The global death toll has risen to close to 500 and the second death outside China recorded in Hong Kong. The death toll in China from the virus logged its highest one day rise on 3 February. Over 900 people are said to have recovered from the virus. For more information regarding confirmed and recovered cases visit this heat map.

China
Confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to rise in China. China is reported to have over 24,000 confirmed and over 23,000 suspected cases of the coronavirus. Of these approximately 2788 have been classified as severe. Macau casinos asked to shut their businesses for 14 days. According to Reuters, officials in Macau have requested that its 41 casinos close their businesses for two weeks to help control the coronavirus outbreak.

Australia
Restrictions on travellers from China is likely to extend beyond 14 days. According to the Australian newspaper, Health Minister Greg Hunt has said the ban on travellers from China would not “suddenly be turned off” after a fortnight. “We expect it will continue. We’re not putting a timeframe on it,” Mr Hunt said.

Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia reach 13
To date, thirteen cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Australia: three in Queensland, two in South Australia, four in Victoria and four in New South Wales (as at 5 February). 213 suspected cases are under investigation including 2 in the Northern Territory. Of the thirteen confirmed cases three patients have recovered.

Chinese passport holders who can prove they have been in a third country for at least a month will be admitted to Australia. Australia’s higher education Global Reputation Task Force says the government has agreed that Chinese passport holders who are overseas but can prove they have been in a third country for at least a month will be admitted to Australia. The concession was the result of the first meeting of the Task Force on 3 February.

2 Australian passengers test positive for coronavirus on board cruise ship quarantined in Japan. Nearly 4000 passengers and crew (among them 223 Australian passengers and 3 Australian crew) aboard cruise ship Diamond Princess have been quarantined by Japanese authorities in Yokohama port for 2 weeks. Japanese authorities are undertaking coronavirus screening for all passengers and crew. So far 2 Australian passengers have confirmed cases of coronavirus.

BUSHFIRE

Media attention shift – continuing to reinforce Australia is Open for business. Media attention globally has shifted away from Australia’s bushfires, particularly as media outlets increasingly focus on the impact of the coronavirus. Tourism Australia however continues to work with consumer and trade media in key markets internationally to reinforce the message that Australian tourism is open for business. To support this we continue to update our Bushfire Safety information page online on a daily basis, including our bushfire map highlighting those areas that have been impacted and those that remain unaffected, this in turn helps to generating positive, factual media coverage internationally, such as this story published in today’s Houston Chronicle.

Consumer: australia.com | twitter.com/Australia | facebook.com/SeeAustralia
Corporate: tourism.australia.com | twitter.com/TourismAus

Letter from the Department of Health – Chief Medical Officer

Following previous correspondence, I am writing to provide further advice regarding the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19). The situation in mainland China has not changed significantly over the last two weeks. Cases and mortality rates continue to rise in Hubei province, which remains locked down by Chinese authorities.

There continues to be a slower growth of cases in other mainland provinces of China. Cases have risen in Hong Kong and there is growth in exported cases to a number of countries including Thailand, Singapore and Japan.

Given this, and the success of the travel restrictions that have helped Australia to contain the virus, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee met today and recommended the current travel restrictions and advisories remain in place, to be reviewed in seven days.

The Prime Minister announced earlier this evening that the Australian Government has accepted the AHPPC’s recommendations. My colleagues and I recognise the significant impact on the tourism industry of our recent decisions to protect the Australian population from this virus. We have not made these recommendations lightly and are very focused on ensuring our advice is proportionate.

Reducing entry into Australia by people who have been in mainland China has contributed to the effective management of self-isolation of recent arrivals.

To summarise, the following arrangements remain in place:

  • Australia will deny entry to anyone who has left or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days, with the exception of Australian citizens, permanent residents, and immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents including spouses, minor dependants and legal guardians.
  • Australian citizens who have left or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of leaving mainland China.
  • People who have had close contact with a proven cases of novel coronavirus must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of last contact.

I would note again that the risk of transmission of the virus from people who are well is very low as most people are likely to only be infectious when they develop symptoms. It is as a precautionary measure that we are isolating people who remain well.

For those hotels which decide to have guests that require isolation, we have updated factsheets for hotel management and staff and hotel guests with the latest health advice and details on what actions to take. These are available to download and distribute from health.gov.au.

We hope that these fact sheets will reassure staff and guests that the risks imposed by self-isolation of well people are very low. If you or your staff do become aware of someone who should be in isolation and is not following health advice or have other public health concerns, contact your state or territory Public Health authority on the below numbers:

  • ACT call 02 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours
  • NSW call 1300 066 055
  • NT call 08 8922 8044
  • Qld call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
  • SA call 1300 232 272
  • Tas call 1800 671 738
  • Vic call 1800 675 398
  • WA call your local public health unit

We will continue to provide regular updates on this emerging situation at www.health.gov.au

Yours sincerely
Professor Brendan Murphy
Chief Medical Officer
13 February 2020

Global

Countries close borders to travellers from China.

Approximately 63 countries have increased border restrictions for travellers from China. Singapore, Italy, the USA, New Zealand, and Australia have introduced the most extensive measures.

Airlines continue to suspend or reduce flights to and from China.

Airlines are continuing to reduce or suspend flights to and from mainland China, mainly as a response to declining demand for travel to that country.

You can track flight changes here.

Cruise ships suspend operations to and from China In accordance with the 24 January directive from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to suspend group tours, cruise ship operators in China have suspended operations.  On 26 January major international cruise liners Royal Caribbean, MSC an Costa Cruises announced voyages would be cancelled through mid-February. By 30 January all international cruise ships to/from Shanghai were suspended by the companies not by Chinese authorities. Industry association Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) – which represents most of the major cruise liners – has advised its member cruise liners have suspended crew movements from mainland China and will deny boarding to any individual, whether guest or crew, who has travelled from or through mainland China within the previous 14 days. Additional health screening measures would also be implemented.

A useful summary of cruise ship cancellations and passenger restrictions can be found here

Still no WHO recommendation to restrict international travel

The WHO continues to advise against any restrictions on international travel or trade.

Global cases of coronavirus continue to rise – first death outside China

There are now over 17000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus across at least

23 countries (including Spain, Sweden, Russia and the UK).  Of the confirmed cases approximately 180 are outside China.  The global death toll has risen to over 360 and the first death outside of China recorded in the Philippines. Over 480 people are said to have recovered from the virus, including 5 in Thailand and 1 in Vietnam.

For more information – click the image

Anti-Asian sentiment grows in the wake of the coronavirus Reports of racism against people of Asian appearance have been reported in a number of countries including France, Canada and Australia  (read more). It’s our collective responsibility to ensure that people understand the facts about the transmission of this virus to keep these incidents to a minimum, to ensure a speedy recovery from our largest market.

China

Confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to rise in China. China is reported to have 17335 confirmed and over 12000 suspected cases of the coronavirus. Of these approximately 1300 have been classified as severe.

Bird flu outbreak in Hunan Province. China has reported an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in Hunan Province and has culled 18,000 chickens.

Australia

Australia announces entry restrictions to non-citizens travelling from China

The Australian Government has announced temporary border restrictions on entry to Australia for travellers from, or transiting through, China (with the exception of Australian permanent residents) after 1 February. These measures will be reviewed in 14 days. Australia also raised its overall travel advice for mainland China to ‘Level 4 – Do Not Travel’ and introduced a requirement for all travellers arriving out of mainland China (not just Hubei Province) to self-isolate for a period of fourteen days.

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has issued updated isolation requirements for hotel & tourism operators

The Chief Medical Officer today issued updated medical advice for hotel and tourism operators on the new requirements for self-isolation as follows

*   Any person who left Hubei Province less than 14 days ago (isolate until 14 days after they left Hubei

*   Any identified close contacts of proven cases of novel coronavirus (isolate until 14 days after last contact with the proven case)

*   Any person who left, or transited through, mainland China on or after 1 February 2020 (isolate until 14 days after leaving China).

Updated factsheets are also available for hotel management and staff and hotel guests.

Qantas suspends flights to and from mainland China

On 2 February Qantas announced a suspension of its two direct China flights effective 9 February to 29 March 2020 citing logistical challenges for rostering crew to operate these services in the wake of entry restrictions imposed by countries including Singapore and the United States.

There is no change to Qantas services to Hong Kong.

Confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to rise in Australia Twelve cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Australia, two in Queensland, two in South Australia, four in Victoria and four in New South Wales (as at 3 February). In addition, 17 cases that meet the suspected case definition have been reported by several states and territories and are under investigation: Victoria (9 cases), Western Australia (2 cases), and New South Wales (6 cases).

BUSHFIRES

Escalation over the weekend – information & update The impact of the fires continues to be felt and presents Australian tourism with one of its greatest ever challenges. Over the weekend we saw the situation escalate in parts of NSW, ACT and VIC, however conditions have thankfully since eased with all fires burning at advice level or below. We will continue to regularly update the map and the bushfire information page<https://www.australia.com/en/travel-alerts.html> on our website with the latest information on the situation as it unfolds.

TA ACTIVITY

Revising activities in light of evolving situation Tourism Australia is continuing to regularly review its activities in light of the bushfires and coronavirus situation, with a focus on spreading the message to Australians and the world is that Australia is open for business and that the best way people can support tourism recovery is to visit. What we are reviewing at the moment is the timing of this activity.

 

Domestic campaign & approach

Our new domestic campaign, Holiday Here This Year, along with the bespoke business events iteration Event Here This Year, continues to be rolled out across the country with initial industry, media and consumer response having been positive. We are also reviewing this year’s ATE program and will be letting delegates know of some important changes in the coming days, which are aimed at making our flagship trade event more affordable to tourism operators who we know are doing it tough at the moment.

International campaign & approach

We are currently working on the details of our revised international approach, which will include a campaign and a comprehensive international media hosting program, and we will share more information about the international campaign shortly. We are also mobilising our distribution networks to ensure that Australian experiences are still being offered in this key sales period.

Bede Fennell
bfennell@tourism.australia.com
Tourism Australia

Phillipa Harrison
Managing Director | Tourism Australia
T: +61 2 9361 1303 | M: +61 (0) 439 131 185 |
E:pharrison@tourism.australia.com

Media Releases and Information

Hotel and tourism operators,

As you will be aware, we have updated medical advice regarding the novel coronavirus infection (2019-nCoV).

I am sure that this has caused some concern amongst your industry and I am writing to provide some early advice and guidance.

It is most important to note that the experts still believe this virus is, in the great majority of cases, only passed on to others from people who are unwell with symptoms of infection. There is very limited information to suggest that occasionally people may have spread the virus late in the incubation period in the days before they become unwell or develop an infection without obvious symptoms.

While we are assessing this new data, out of an abundance of caution, we are recommending that well people, who might be incubating the virus, avoid public spaces and isolate themselves in their home or, in the case of tourists, in their hotel rooms. As an added precaution, we are suggesting that this isolation should be for 14 days, although we believe that the average incubation period before symptoms develop is likely to be closer to one week.

This recommendation applies to anyone who has been a close contact with a confirmed case of the virus or has left the Hubei province of China less than 14 days ago. Given that China effectively locked down Hubei province a week ago, most people from there will already have been here a week.

Clearly if you have one of these guests in your property, there will be concerns expressed by the staff. I would like to reassure you and your staff that we still believe that these people are unlikely to be infectious if they are well. If they become unwell, they must seek medical attention, after first phoning ahead to the hospital or doctor to get advice. Staff should avoid contact with any one of these guests who becomes unwell and seek the appropriate medical advice.

Most, if not all, of these guests will be well and, as indicated above, we believe (on current evidence) most unlikely to be infectious. Given our precautionary approach, however, we make the following recommendations for staff in relation to well people during this isolation period:

1. Staff should avoid close contact with these guests but it is safe to be in the same room (at a distance) without protective gear when delivering food, which we recommend that the guests have in their room.
2. Cleaning staff should also avoid close contact. They should wear gloves and use alcohol hand rub before and after wearing gloves. As an added precaution your cleaning staff may wish to wear a surgical mask while cleaning the room.
3. Please reinforce to staff that we believe these people are very unlikely to transmit or develop infection if they have remained well.

Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses.

Please also encourage all staff to:

1. wash their hands often with soap and water before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet
2. avoid contact with others (including touching, kissing, hugging, and other intimate contact)
3. cough and sneeze into their elbow.

If staff become concerned about guests not following health advice, they should contact their state or territory public health authority on the below numbers:

* ACT call 02 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours

* NSW call 1300 066 055

* NT call 08 8922 8044

* Qld call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84)

* SA call 1300 232 272

* Tas call 1800 671 738

* Vic call 1300 651 160

* WA visit https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/ or call your local public health unit https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/publichealthunits

The Australian health system is very well prepared to manage a situation such as this and I appreciate your ongoing support and direct contribution to the collective response.

Further information on this emerging situation including a factsheet for the general public or your customers can be found on www.health.gov.au

Professor Brendan Murphy
Chief Medical Officer
30 January 2020

Staff: Information link

Hotel Guests: Information Link

Following the Chief Medical Officer’s advice yesterday, the Department has now developed two fact sheets with more specific advice regarding the novel coronavirus infection (2019-nCoV).

Please find one factsheet for hotel management and staff and the other for hotel guests at Hotels and Hotel Staff.

Staff:
https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-information-for-hotels-and-hotel-staff

Hotel Guests
https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-information-for-hotel-guests

They include more information about preventive action staff and guests should take and the restrictions that now apply to anyone who has been in Hubei Province, China in the past 14 days.

We ask that you to share these factsheets accordingly.

The restrictions we have recommended are highly precautionary measure. We still believe that people are unlikely to be infectious if they are well.

We will continue to provide regular updates on this emerging situation at www.health.gov.au

If your staff have further concerns, they should contact their state or territory public health authority on the below numbers:

* ACT call 02 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours

* NSW call 1300 066 055

* NT call 08 8922 8044

* Qld call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84)

* SA call 1300 232 272

* Tas call 1800 671 738

* Vic call 1300 651 160

* WA call 08 9328 0553

Thank you so much for your help.
Department of Health