99 friends allowed
The Federal government is placing a ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people, in a new, tougher measure intended to reduce the impact of COVID-19.
However, currently, many establishments are exempt from the ban, including schools, universities, airports, public transport, medical facilities, aged care homes, jails, courts, parliament and supermarkets, as well as some workplaces.
It adds to the pre-existing ban on outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more, and means businesses such as bars, restaurants, cinemas and music venues are likely to feel the pinch even more than they are already.
Stay tuned for more detailed coverage on the effect this could have on Aussie small businesses.
It is also being widely reported that the government is set to waive $715 million worth of fees for domestic airlines, in another support package designed to help the struggling aviation industry.
Fees will reportedly include air service charges, aviation security charges and fuel excise.
The changes are expected to be backdated, applying to charges from February 1.
This announcement follows a plea for support from regional airline Rex, with chief operating officer Neville Howell calling for urgent action in an open letter to the Deputy Prime Minister.
Rex has requested a trading halt, following a 13% drop in passenger numbers.
Qantas announced yesterday it is cutting 90% of its international flights and 60% of domestic flights, until at least the end of May. Virgin has also said this morning it is grounding its entire international fleet from March 30 to June 14.
Please stop panic-buying
Morrison has also called on the public to stop panic-buying, stressing there are no shortages, and therefore no need for panic-buying on the wild scale we’ve seen all over the country.
Current government advice is to have a few days’ worth of supplies, and to return to regular shopping habits.
Pool out of use
In international news, Uber has suspended its Uber Pool service in the US and Canada, in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.
Regular Uber services and UberEats are still available, but the ride-sharing giant said it is working with local authorities, and is ready to adjust its operations if necessary.
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There’s no word from Uber as to whether similar measures are likely to come into effect in Australia, but the local business has said it’s working with health professionals “to make sure our efforts as a company are grounded in medical advice”.
Big bucks from Zuck
And finally, another Silicon Valley giant is reportedly offering US$1,000 staff bonuses to support employees during the coronavirus crisis.
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg apparently released a company notice saying it will offer additional funding to every employee as it strives to support those working from home.