The border bubble expands to Byron and more – the Queensland 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.
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 24
Large picnics and house parties are back on the agenda, with an announcement from Queensland’s deputy premier and health minister Steven Miles stating that restrictions on gatherings would be reduced as of 1:00 am Friday September 25. Gathering restrictions will be eased to a 30-person limit in homes or outdoors, while the new guidelines will also allow visitors into aged-care facilities and hospitals. The news comes as Queensland records 14 consecutive days without community transmission of COVID-19.
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 23
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced that from 1:00 am on Thursday October 1, Queensland will ease some of its border restrictions to allow residents from 41 New South Wales postal codes to apply for a Border Declaration Pass in order to travel into Queensland without quarantining. The border bubble will expand to include access to and from The Tweed Shire, Byron Shire, the City of Lismore, Ballina Shire, Richmond Valley Council and Glen Innes Shire. Queensland residents will be allowed to travel to these areas and will not be required to quarantine for 14 days upon return, however those that venture beyond these areas will be required to quarantine at their own expense. Click here to find out which postcodes are included in the bubble, courtesy of ABC News.
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 5
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced that Queensland’s border will close to New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory from 1:00 am this Saturday August 8. Ms Palaszczuk has confirmed that visitors from those states will be denied entry (expect for rare exemptions) and returning Queenslanders will be required to undergo 14 days mandatory hotel quarantine at their own cost. In today’s press conference (which you can view here), Ms Palaszczuk outlined that only residents of border communities and essential workers (such as truck drivers) will be able to cross the border and exemptions, including compassionate grounds, will be limited. Live updates are over on Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Facebook page.
TUESDAY JULY 21
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced JobKeeper will be extended from September 27 into early 2021 at a reduced rate. The JobKeeper wage subsidy of $1500 will be scaled down to $1200 a fortnight come October for full-time workers and $700 per fortnight for part-time workers. The payment will then drop further to $1000 for full-time employees and $650 for people working less than 20 hours per week in the March quarter of 2021. To qualify for the wage subsidy, businesses must prove a 30-percent drop in turnover at the start of each quarter. For more information, head to news.com.au.
TUESDAY JUNE 30
In response to the recent COVID outbreaks, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has today announced that Queensland’s borders will remain closed with Victoria. Ms Palaszczuk has confirmed that not only will the borders remain closed to Victorians, they will also be strengthened, with tougher measures applying from Friday July 3 at 12:00 pm. The stronger restrictions mean that those who have travelled from Victoria (including Queenslanders returning to the state) will be prevented from entering – or they will have to quarantine at a hotel for a two-week duration at their own expense. Travellers from New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory and ACT will be allowed into Queensland from Friday July 10 – but will be required to sign a statutory declaration that they have not travelled to Victoria recently. Today’s announcement also outlined that some of the easing restrictions that form part of Stage Three will be brought forward to July 3 (from July 10), which will see up to 100 guests allowed at weddings, funerals, house parties and fitness classes, the reopening of gaming lounges and the resuming of contact community sports (with no limits on spectators), while stadiums will be allowed up to 50-percent capacity, or as many as 25,000 spectators. The 20-person limit will be lifted at pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes – larger venues will need to allow for the four-square-metre rule, while smaller venues will be allowed one person per two square metres, up to a maximum of 50. You can watch the announcement over at ABC News.
THURSDAY JUNE 25
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a $250-million JobMaker plan to support Australia’s creative industries following the devastating impact of COVID-19. Thousands of jobs across the arts industry will be supported by the targeted package to help get the entertainment, arts and screen sectors back on their feet. There is a selection of new grant and loan programs set to become available in the next year to different parts of the arts sector and the 600,000 Australians it employs. Further information on how to apply will be released over the coming weeks. To learn more, head here.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 17
As of this weekend, footy fans will be able to return en masse to stadiums across Queensland. Up to 2000 people will be allowed to return to stadium stands from this Saturday to watch both AFL and NRL games. Health Minister Steven Miles said the move was a result of football codes submitting plans to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19 and is part of the larger plan to get Queensland “back to normal”. For more information, head to ABC News.
THURSDAY MAY 28
In exciting news for keen globetrotters, Australians could fly overseas from July 1 according to a new tourism timetable outlined by the Tourism Restart Taskforce, an industry group established to advise the Federal Government on a domestic and international travel road map post-COVID19. According to news.com.au, the last taskforce meeting occurred on Friday May 22 and was attended by Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham. In the meeting, a tourism timetable was discussed outlining Australians may be able to starting flying both domestically and to New Zealand from July 1. According to John Hart, the Chair of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, this document is just aspirational and needs to be signed off by the relevant government authorities. For further information, head to news.com.au.
THURSDAY MAY 21
It’s official – this year’s Ekka public holiday will be shifted from Wednesday August 12 to Friday August 14. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed the news that for this year only, People’s Day will become ‘People’s Long Weekend’. Following the cancellation of this year’s Ekka (the third time in its 143-year history), the state government made the decision to shift the public holiday in a bid to boost local tourism industry, with Ms Palaszczuk urging Queenslanders to hit the beach, go bush and take a break. Head to Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Facebook for the details.
MONDAY MAY 18
As of 7:00 am Monday May 18, Council parking meters have been switched back on and normal parking restrictions now apply. Council encourages all residents to practise social distancing and safe hygiene while using parking meters. Cashless payment is also encouraged by using card or the CellOPark Australia app. For further information, visit the Brisbane City Council website.
THURSDAY MAY 7
Queensland’s COVID-19 restrictions will ease a little further this weekend – from Mother’s Day this Sunday (May 10) up to five members from one household will be allowed to visit another home. Though, chief medical officer Jeannette Young has urged Queenslanders to maintain their distance and avoid hugging. In today’s press conference, Dr Young also outlined that if you’re visiting another household, the 50-kilometre limit on travel would be lifted, and went on to say “You can’t go out into that community. You can only go to that residence, visit there, and leave. You can’t go shopping, you can’t go to the beach.” You can watch the press conference over at 9 News.
MONDAY MAY 5
4:00 pm: Prime Minister Scott Morrison has delivered a press conference following the first of two National Cabinet meetings this week. While the PM confirmed that each Australian state and territory will continue to oversee its own easing of restrictions, the National Cabinet will devise a national ‘framework‘ when it meets again on Friday (May 8) so there is consistency across the board. With more than 1 million Australians having processed claims for JobSeeker and an estimated 5 million people on JobKeeper, the PM outlined that the next priority is getting Australians back to work. While formal announcements are to come, today’s press conference also touched on interstate travel, which the PM said he hoped would be possible “by the end of term school holidays”, while a ‘safe-travel’ zone between Australia and New Zealand is “still some time away”. You can view the full press conference over on ABC News.
MONDAY MAY 4
10:00 am: Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced a back-to-school plan for Queensland students starting with students in Kindy, Prep, Year 1, Year 11 and Year 12 who will return to school on May 11. Students in Years 2 to 10 will continue remote learning at home for the time being. The situation will be reviewed again on May 15 with the view to have all remaining students back at school on May 25 if cases remain low. Children of essential workers and vulnerable children are still able to attend school. Increased cleaning will be undertaken at schools and protocols around social distancing will remain in place. Read more at ABC News.
MONDAY APRIL 27
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced that some of Queensland’s stay-at-home restrictions will be easing as of Saturday May 2, which will permit residents to leave their homes for some forms of recreation. Scenic drives (within 50 kms of your principal place of residence) and outdoor picnics with members of the same household will be allowed, as will the recreational use of motorbikes, jetskis and boats. Some national parks will be re-opened, and Queenslanders will also be able to go shopping for non-essential items like clothes and shoes. Though, Queensland’s chief health officer Jeannette Young warned that social distancing still applies and reiterated that while the slight easing of restrictions is now allowing us to go out into the community, we must only do so with our own household groups, not with additional people. For more on the state’s easing restrictions, jump to our rundown here.
TUESDAY APRIL 21
It’s official – Virgin Australia has been forced into voluntary administration. The airline, and a number of its subsidiaries, are now being run by Deloitte administrators Vaughan Strawbridge, John Greig, Sal Algeri and Richard Hughes. The jobs of approximately 15,000 airline workers, not to mention supply-chain workers, are up in the air (excuse the pun), however Mr Strawbridge is saying business operation will continue, stressing there are “no plans to make any redundancies” and “wages will continue to be paid”. In a statement made to the ASX, the airline said the move was made to help “recapitalise the business” to ensure it came out of the COVID-19 crisis in a stronger financial position. At this stage, Virgin Australia will continue to operate its scheduled international and domestic flights. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has ruled out a bailout for the company, saying that the government was not going to “bail out five large foreign shareholders with deep pockets who, together, own 90 percent of this airline”. He also stressed that this was not an Ansett situation, it’s not liquidation and not the end of the airline. There is a lot more information to dissect here – you can head to ABC News or The Guardian for rolling coverage – but key things to note are:
- While Velocity Frequent Flyer is owned by the group, it is a separate company and is not in administration. The loyalty program has currently frozen all redemptions for an initial period of four weeks.
- Queensland state development minister Cameron Dick is looking to keep Virgin’s headquarters in Queensland, with the State Government offering $200 million in assistance on the proviso it remains here.
- Mr Strawbridge has insisted that Australia needs a second airline and that “in excess of ten parties” have expressed interest in Virgin.
- Virgin Group boss Richard Branson (which is a 10 percent shareholder in Virgin Australia) has vowed to “never give up” and that the group is “determined to see Virgin Australia back up and running soon”.
MONDAY APRIL 20
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has this morning confirmed that, for the first time in more than 40 days, Queensland has recorded no new cases of coronavirus overnight. The Premier expressed she was “overjoyed” as she made the announcement, saying, “if we can keep this up over the coming weeks, I’m sure that’s going to mean that we’re going to be able to make some changes and ease some of those restrictions on the population”. The total number of Queensland cases stands at 1019, with 85,870 tests conducted so far. While this is something to be celebrated, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young has said Queenslanders will still need to adhere to social-distancing restrictions for a while longer. The situation is, of course, being looked at very carefully and any removal of restrictions will be under circumstances where the government feels it won’t lead to a bounce back in case numbers. You can watch the press conference here.
FRIDAY APRIL 17
Virgin Australia has announced it will resume a minimal schedule of domestic flights for essential travellers starting today, Friday April 17. The announcement, which you can view here, outlines that the flight schedule will operate for a period of eight weeks until June 7. According to 9 News, Virgin Australia will now operate 64 return services each week across Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth, in a bid to help passengers return home and to keep essential workers travelling when required. Qantas will also be operating minimal flights in key domestic and regional routes, with news.com.au reporting that Qantas flights will increase to 164 per week (up from 105) to capital cities and regional destinations.
THURSDAY APRIL 16
In today’s national cabinet meeting, the governments agreed that we can begin travel on the “road out” of our current economic and health crisis, should there be greater confidence in the success of current measures ongoing. It was announced that they are considering a reduction in “baseline restrictions” in just four weeks, as long as our COVID-19 containment strategies continue to be effective. The easing of restrictions will likely differ from state to state and could, hypothetically, see the easing of police enforcement on self-isolation rules. Scott Morrison also announced that he wanted parliament to return briefly in May to discuss matters not directly related to the pandemic – the previous expectation had been August. The Prime Minister stressed that four-week timeline was not guaranteed and that the government would not be rushing into lifting restrictions – major measures to combat coronavirus will stay in place until at least the end of September (including those of personal hygiene and social distancing). Read the full story via The Guardian.
WEDNESDAY APRIL 15
While Queensland’s rate of new COVID-19 infections is slowing, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has warned that the current restrictions will likely be in place for many more months. In a press conference today, which you can view here, Premier Palaszczuk confirmed there were just five new cases overnight, the lowest since March 10, with Queensland’s current total now at 999 confirmed cases (as at Wednesday April 15) after 75,480 tests were conducted. While Queenslanders have been congratulated for their efforts, Premier Palaszczuk reiterated that we’re not out of the woods yet. In the same press conference, Health Minister Steven Miles stipulated that within the state’s total number of cases there is still a “concerning number” of positive tests coming through that are from people who have travelled interstate, and reemphasised the importance of the border restrictions. Jump here to watch the press conference.
TUESDAY APRIL 14
10:00 am: Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced Queensland schools will open for term two for vulnerable students and the children of essential workers only. Teachers and other support staff will also still attend school campuses. Other students will be taught from home via online remote learning for at least the first five weeks of the term, with rules in force until May 22 and set for review on May 15. To ensure students aren’t disadvantaged, Education Minister Grace Grace stated students will either receive devices from school or will be able to borrow them. Minister Grace also revealed that Education Queensland is working with Telstra to help distribute approximately 5000 SIM cards to help students access internet, and is also working on securing additional internet availability for those who do not currently have access in their homes.
THURSDAY APRIL 9
11:00 am: The Queensland Government is moving to implement stricter border-control measures this week, updating current lockdown measures with a new rule that anyone returning to Queensland from interstate will need a special permit to cross back over the border. These measures will come info effect on the night of Friday April 10, with those returning from virus hotspots in New South Wales (such as Sydney) now required to quarantine for 14 days upon returning home. Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has not ruled out implementing further measures in the future. More details to come.
10:30 am: In good news for businesses forced to lay off or stand down employees in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown, the federal government’s $130 billion JobKeeper stimulus has been passed, with both sides of parliament electing to bring the scheme online. The package will give businesses affected by COVID-19 $1500 per employee, per fortnight, with the total length of the scheme budgeted to last six months. Roughly 750,000 businesses have already registered to claim the payments, which will in turn look to be distributed to an estimated six million Australians. Criteria for eligibility include being currently employed or were employed by your workplace as of at March 1, 2020, that you are either a full-time or part-time employee or a casual worker who has been employed with the same employer for more than a year, and that you must be either an Australian citizen, someone with a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa holder. Payments are expected to start rolling out in May.
TUESDAY APRIL 7
11:30 am: Following yesterday’s news about the closure of popular Gold Coast beaches, Mayor Tom Tate has today announced that all beachside carparking is to be closed from Main Beach south to the border at Coolangatta. The carparks will begin being closed from today, Tuesday April 7, ahead of the Easter long weekend. Barriers will be set up to keep cars out, but that’s not all – drivers trying to enter will face fines of more than $130 if caught. These measures will be reviewed after the long weekend – we’ll keep you posted on further updates, but until then you can find more information on the announcement at 9news.
MONDAY APRIL 6
12:30 pm: The RNA has released an official statement announcing that this year’s Royal Queensland Show (Ekka) has been cancelled, a decision made in the best interests of public health. This is only the third time in the show’s 143-year history that it has been cancelled, previously due to the Spanish Flu in 1919 and when the grounds were used as a staging depot for World War II in 1942. In the statement, the RNA has pledged that it will provide every assistance to the Government during the pandemic, noting that the Royal International Convention Centre can be transformed into a functioning hospital as required. Read the full statement on the Ekka website.
11:00 am: After crowds avoided social-distancing restrictions and flocked to some of the Gold Coast’s most popular beaches over the weekend, Mayor Tom Tate has today announced that The Spit, Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta beaches will be closed from midnight Tuesday April 7. At this stage, all other beaches remain open for Gold Coast locals to utilise for exercise only, with Mayor Tate urging Brisbane residents not to visit. Today’s move to close the city’s three main beaches follows on from the closure of The Spit’s carpark on Saturday April 4, after large groups continued to gather at the popular Broadwater location. You can watch Mayor Tate’s live press conference detailing the beach closures via 9 News Gold Coast.
THURSDAY APRIL 2
1:20 pm: Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced childcare will be free for parents who are continuing to work during the coronavirus pandemic. The major announcement outlined that the federal government will also be providing financial support for 13,000 childcare and early-childhood centres around the country, in a bid to brace the struggling sector following a significant downturn from falling attendance rates. The overhaul of the system, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison said is aimed at parents who rely on childcare centres so they can continue working in critical industries, will take effect from Sunday evening (April 5). You can view a video stream of the announcement over at 9news.
9:00 am: Australia’s national science agency CSIRO has held a media briefing announcing it has commenced the first stage of testing for potential COVID-19 vaccines. The testing is currently underway at the agency’s high-containment biosecurity facility – the Australian Animal Health Laboratory – and is expected to take three months. Work on possible vaccines began in January, in partnership and consultation with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organisation respectively, allowing a global collaborative effort to fast-track the fight against the virus. The beginning of testing is a significant milestone, with the CSIRO working around the clock to test for efficacy, and evaluate the best way to administer the vaccine for better protection. Read the full statement on the CSIRO website.
WEDNESDAY APRIL 1
5:00 pm: In a bid to relieve pressure on Australia’s front-line workers, more than 40,000 retired doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists are being encouraged to re-join the workforce in their medical profession. A report by the ABC details the push from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), which is urging practitioners whose medical registrations have lapsed in the last three years to apply from next Monday. Those who successfully re-join will be added to the register for a period of 12 months, under a special pandemic sub-register. You can read the full report by the ABC here.
MONDAY MARCH 30 (and the weekend round-up)
3:00 pm: Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $130-billion wage subsidy scheme, an unprecedented measure to match these unprecedented times. The package targets businesses who have been forced or were due to stand down staff due to the pandemic, in a bid to prevent millions of Australians losing their jobs. The ‘JobKeeper payment’ will see businesses receiving a fortnightly wage subsidy of $1500 per employee. We’ve taken a closer look at that it entails – you can get more information in our story here.
11:40 am: Woolworths is rolling out a Priority Assistance $80 basic grocery box for elderly and other vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis. The boxes will include meals, snacks and a few essential items, and cannot be customised. Orders will be delivered contactless via Australia Post and other couriers, and should arrive within two to five working days. The boxes can be ordered online (or via phone support) from this week in the ACT, New South Wales and Victoria, and will be introduced to the other states in the coming weeks.
9:00 am: The Queensland Government announced its latest official social-distancing rules, effective as of 11:59 pm on Sunday March 29. The home-confinement direction for Queensland residents reiterates last night’s announcement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, reducing social gatherings to no more than two people. It also clearly outlines the the permitted purposes that people can leave home, which can only be done in the time reasonably necessary to accomplish those activities or tasks. Notable outside of what we already know – you should not be going into work if your duties can reasonably be performed at home. Penalties will apply to those who do not comply to these new restrictions. Get a breakdown of all of the details in our story here.
8:00 am: The Federal Government will be announcing its highly anticipated wage subsidy today. Reports are that it will be the “single largest” measure so far and could provide stood-down full-time workers up to $1500 a fortnight. We’ll keep you posted this afternoon as announcements are made.
From the weekend:
- On the evening of Sunday March 29, Prime Minister Scott Morrison held another press conference, cracking down further on social distancing restrictions. The gathering limit of ten people has been reduced to two people and states and territories can now enforce these rules. We break it down digestibly for you in our Dissecting SCOMO round-up here.
- Vulnerable people, specifically those over the age of 70, those with a chronic illness over the age of 60, and Indigenous Australians over the age of 50 should be staying home as much as is practical.
- The states and territories will be putting a temporary ban on evictions of people and businesses unable to meet their rent requirements due to financial distress. Further work is being done on this matter.
- The Federal Government has launched an official coronavirus app and WhatsApp channel to keep Australians informed on government advice, announcements and restrictions. The idea is to help cut through the noise and provide all necessary information in a digestible way. Get the full details in our story here.
- Queensland Police has been grated the power to enforce social distancing rules, now conducting around-the-clock compliance checks on Queenslanders in self quarantine. Officers have the option of issuing infringement notices on the spot in appropriate circumstances where social distancing and health guidelines aren’t adhered to – individuals can be fined $1334.50, while businesses will face $6672.50 fines. Police also have the authority to break up gatherings of more than two people, as well as issue fines if more than ten people are in one home (unless they all reside there).
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.