ACT COVID-19 - 30 March 2020
Key developments in the last 24 hours
30 March ACT Government public spaces closed
For community safety, in response to COVID-19, the ACT Government is closing a number of public spaces from midday today, Monday 30 March 2020, until further notice. The closures are in line with the direction issued following yesterday’s National Cabinet meeting.
Temporary closures apply to:
- outdoor fitness stations
- skate parks
- the Tidbinbilla Visitor Information Centre (national park remains open)
- the Namadgi Visitor Information Centre (national park remains open)
- all campgrounds including Cotter Campground, Blue Range Campground, Northern Border Campground, Kowen Campground and all campsites in Namadgi National Park, with all current bookings to be refunded
- cottages within ACT parks and reserves.
While these spaces may not be fenced off or gated, please do not use them. Signage will be erected in coming days.
Read more here.
27 March Health service update
The ACT Government is implementing changes to maternity, paediatric and community-based services to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community. You will be contacted if any changes to services affect your upcoming appointment or treatment.
- Pregnancy and support phone line to be introduced
- Visitor limits
- Changes to maternal and Child Health Services and Midcall to the current circumstances. If you’re booked into a class, we will contact you.
This is a summary of the latest Federal Government announcements a full update can be seen on the NECA website here.
Coronavirus national cabinet - update
The National Cabinet met on 27 and 29 March 2020, the Government is forecasting that we will be living with the virus for at least 6 months. The requirements introduced by Government include:
Public gatherings, excluding household members, have been reduced to a maximum of two people. Exceptions to this limit include:
- People of the same household going out together;
- Funerals - a maximum of 10 people;
- Wedding - a maximum of 5 people;
- Family units.
Individual States and Territories may choose to mandate and/or enforce this requirement.
- Short-term intervention is needed for commercial tenancies. Work on this has begun, but there is more to do, including for residential tenancies. National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.
National Cabinet agreed to a common set of principles, endorsed by Treasurers, to underpin and govern intervention to aid commercial tenancies as follows:
- a short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent to be applied across commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus;
- tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease;
- the reduction or waiver of rental payment for a defined period for impacted tenants;
- the ability for tenants to terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress;
- commercial property owners should ensure that any benefits received in respect of their properties should also benefit their tenants in proportion to the economic impact caused by coronavirus;
- landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their lease and rental agreements; and
- cost-sharing or deferral of losses between landlords and tenants, with Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, local government and financial institutions to consider mechanisms to provide assistance.
- Everyone should stay home unless you are: shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, exercising or travelling to work or education.
- People aged over 70, aged over 60 with pre-existing conditions, or Indigenous people aged over 50 should stay home wherever possible for their own protection.
- If you are in self-isolation because you are confirmed or suspected to have Coronavirus (COVID-19), or have been in close contact with a confirmed case,
- All travellers returning from overseas will be quarantined in a hotel or designated facility for 14 days.
Pubs, licensed clubs and hotels (excluding accommodation), gyms, skateparks, indoor sporting venues, cinemas, beauty salons, play centres and outside playgrounds, places of worship and other public places must be closed. There are restrictions on attendance at weddings, funerals and outdoor fitness classes. Supermarkets and pharmacies remain open. National Cabinet agreed that playgrounds, skate parks and outside gyms in public places will be closed. Bootcamps will be reduced to two persons, including the trainer.
For more information australia.gov.au
National Stimulus Package
The Federal Government has released the ‘Safety Net Package’ which offers more funding and assistance to support our communities during the global health crisis. The new ‘Safety Net Package’ measures include funding for:
- Medicare support at home – whole of population telehealth
- Domestic violence support
- Mental health support
- Relief services for vulnerable Australians
See details here
Statement on Schools
Th education system is in a transition phase until the end of term as schools prepare for a new mode of operation following the school holidays. Some States and Territories have moved to pupil-free days, and each State and Territory will come to their own transition arrangements with their workforce for the rest of this term.
While the medical advice remains that it is safe for children to go to school, the Government asks that only children of workers for whom no suitable care arrangements are available at home to support their learning, physically attend school. The Government will continue to meet with education stakeholders to understand the challenges for our communities. That will include the National Cabinet’s consideration of the measures needed for early childhood settings and TAFE.
Fairwork Commission bench varies clerks award to address covid-19
The Fair Work Commission made a decision on 27 March 2020 to vary the Clerks Private Sector Award to insert a Schedule of special conditions to assist employees adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision allows those special conditions to operate until 30 June 2020.
The special conditions provide flexibilities around hours of work and annual leave to facilitate businesses and their employees being in the best position possible to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic, while retaining the rates of pay for work performed.
Government releases new ‘whatsapp’ messaging service
The Federal government has announced new ways to receive official information and advice on COVID-19. The first is a WhatsApp messaging service which can be accessed by visiting australia.gov.au/whatsapp on your smartphone. The second service is an official coronavirus app available on the app store known as ‘Coronavirus Australia’.
Energy suppliers pledge to defer bills/disconnections
- AGL announced the ‘COVID-19 Customer Support Program’ which will fast-track access to a program that defers payments and suspends disconnections until July 31 for customers who may be under financial stress as a result of the pandemic.
- Origin Energy has pledged new measures that include:
- no disconnections for any residential and small business customers in financial stress until at least 31 July 2020;
- no default listing for any customer who is having trouble paying;
- pause to all late payment fees effective immediately.
Key past announcements
For previous announcements, please visit:
For previous announcements, please visit:
NECA Policy proposals/ media releases
Measures to help protect businesses and jobs
NECA has called on the Federal and State Governments to consider a number of measures in an open letter to the Federal Treasurer, the Honourable Josh Frydenberg MP. These measures will help to protect businesses and jobs,and support the Australian economy as it rebuilds following the COVID-19 crisis. Link to media release and letter
Liquidated damages arising from delays and stoppages
NECA is seeking urgent clarification from the Federal Government in relation to Liquidated Damages that may be imposed as a result of delays or stoppages arising from the COVID emergency. NECA is seeking protection for sub-contractors caught up in this scenario. Once we have clarification, we will advise members.
Please monitor the following sources for the latest health advice:
If you notice a change in the way that you or others around you are thinking and feeling, or you feel that you are not coping, then it is important to talk to a health professional.
You can access a range of telephone and online based supports through:
- Beyond Blue, 1300 22 46 36
- Lifeline Australia, 13 11 14
- Mens Line Australia, 1300 78 99 78
- Kids Helpline, 1800 551 800
NECA has a dedicated webpage for all COVID 19 updates here.