Quick quarantine updates – the coronavirus news you need to know
With everything that’s happening at the moment, our social-media feeds and news websites are becoming inundated with waves of coronavirus-related information – almost too much to keep up with! To help you stay on top of the most-important announcements, we’ve put together a regularly updated rundown of the day’s top stories – some lighthearted, some a bit more serious, but all worthy pieces of information.
FRIDAY MARCH 27
9:50 am: Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has announced that Brisbane City Council parking meters will be switched off from today, making more than 8000 spaces free of charge. Additionally, BCC’s King George Square and Wickham Terrace car parks will offer all-day parking for $5. The Lord Mayor also announced that parking fines would not be issued unless dangerous parking is occurring.
THURSDAY MARCH 26
10:50 am: Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced that Queensland schools will move to pupil-free days as of Monday March 30 to limit the spread of coronavirus. Schools will remain open in a limited capacity for children of anyone with a job deemed essential until the end of term on Friday April 3. Education minister Grace Grace has said that daycare centres and after-school care will also continue. Teachers will still be expected to work in order to prepare future learning materials for remote learning from home.
10:00 am: After some debate, the Federal Government has rescinded restrictions on hairdressers and barbers that originally imposed a 30-minute limit on appointments. The restriction was announced on Tuesday as part of a range of new measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community. While the limit ruling has been axed for now, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged that hairdressers and barbers adhere to the 4-sqm rule and that personal contact during appointments must be minimised.
WEDNESDAY MARCH 25
8:30 am: Last night, the president of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach and prime minister of Japan Abe Shinzo held a conference call to discuss the postponement and rescheduling of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, which were to be held in Tokyo later this year. Both parties concluded that the Olympic Games in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020, but could not be held later than summer 2021. The decision comes after Canada’s national Olympic committee announced that it would be withdrawing from the games. The International Olympic Committee is currently finalising details of a new schedule and liaising with international federations to make space in 2021’s global sports calendar. Watch Thomas Bach’s video message to athletes here.
TUESDAY MARCH 24
9:30 pm: There was another announcement from cabinet this evening – here is a quick recap. From midnight tomorrow, Wednesday March 25, in addition to the earlier closure announcement, there will be a full lockdown on all shopping centre food courts, libraries, museums, beauty salons, tattoo parlours, swimming pools, indoor exercise activities, indoor and outdoor play centres, arcades, amusement parks, auctions and open houses. Weddings will be restricted to only five people (so that’s the couple, the celebrant and two witnesses) and funerals restricted to ten mourners. Hairdressers and barbers can remain open, however, clients must be in and out within 30 minutes. Outdoor bootcamps and personal training can continue to run in groups of less than ten. House parties may be considered an offence and are advised against, homes should only be left for essential outings, yet schools remain open. If you’re feeling confused, we’ll have the SCOMO dissection for you in the morning.
2:20 pm: In case you missed it, Queensland’s borders are closing – and premier Annastacia Palaszczuk MP has today announced the border restrictions will come into effect from midnight Wednesday March 25. Exemptions to the restrictions are freight, emergency vehicles, emergency workers and those going to and from work, as well as essential travel for court orders (including family court), medical treatment and compassionate grounds. Anyone travelling to Queensland that is not usually a resident in the state will have to agree to self-isolate for 14 days, sick or not. Penalties for failing to comply include fines of up to $13,345. A live video of the press announcement can be viewed on the ABC, and an easy-to-read outline of the restrictions has also been pinned to Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Facebook page.
12:10 pm: The Queensland Government has announced a plan to inject $4 billion into the state’s economy, revealing plans to extend tax breaks for small to medium-sized businesses in order to prevent job losses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. A report by the ABC details how the package will supersede initial plans to defer payroll tax requirements, instead refunding two months’ worth of payroll tax immediately and also waiving the next three months’ worth of payroll tax. The story reported that businesses would receive a cash injection of roughly $9000, with a further $13,600 to be waived over the next three months. Queensland’s treasurer Jackie Trad has said the plan would equate to $2.5 billion, with a further $1.5 billion to be announced later this week.
12:00 pm: In a bid to help supply the state’s schools and frontline workers with hospital-grade hand sanitiser, Beenleigh Artisan Distillery and Bundaberg Rum Distillery yesterday announced that both entities would temporarily shift focus towards the production of ethanol. Each distillery would utilise existing production lines and staff to produce the product, with Bundaberg Rum estimated to donate 100,000 litres of ethanol (enough for 500,000 bottles of hand sanitiser) to the Queensland Government. Locally, Brisbane Distillery Company has also started to produce its own hand sanitiser, with bottles available at a discount for healthcare workers.
11:31 am: Coles is extending its Community Hour to not only assist the vulnerable and elderly, but also our healthcare and emergency-services workers. From this Thursday March 26, Coles will dedicate the first hour of trade from 7:00–8:00 am every Tuesday and Thursday to those on the front line, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, hospital and ambulance staff, firefighters, police and emergency service workers. Access will be granted to Community Hour if workers present their AHPRA card or workplace ID, or are wearing their work uniform. The first hour of Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays will still be dedicated to the vulnerable and elderly.
9:00 am: After being restricted to takeaway-only food service, the struggling hospitality industry has been given a much-needed boost – licensed restaurants and cafes in Queensland can now supply alcohol (takeaway or delivery) alongside their takeaway food offering. The changes to the liquor licensing, which you can view here on the Queensland Government website, state that a maximum of 2.25 litres of alcohol can be supplied only in conjunction with a takeaway food order, and can only consist of bottled or canned beer, wine, cider and ready-to-drink beverages.