Prime Minister Scott Morrison has updated the media after this morning’s National Cabinet meeting where they discussed rent relief, self-isolation rules for people on working holidays and religious services for Easter.
Starting the conference, the Prime Minister said that early modelling about our control of the COVID-19 virus is promising and we’re in the suppression phase of the outbreak. He moderated this by saying the virus writes its own rules and there are no promises.
The Federal, State and Territory governments are starting to focus on the road out for the economy and the Prime Minister urged all Australians to be patient and stay home. We are in this for the long-haul and they are still looking at measures being in place for at least 6 months.
To ensure transparency and access to information there will be a new dashboard on health.gov.au which will be updated every afternoon with the latest health statistics on the management of COVID-19.
Further insight on rent relief
The details surrounding rent relief have yet to be finalised, and we can expect to have an industry code for commercial tenancy no later than Tuesday. What has been agreed today is that the code will be consistent in all States and Territory. For instance, rent relief will be made available to commercial tenants with a turnover of less than $50m and is also a participant of the JobKeeper program.
A proportionality principle is being worked on – so business turnover reduction should be reflected in the rental waiver. How this applied will be up to the landlord and tenant. The government will not be prescriptive and the banks are expected to be supportive of these agreements and arrangements.
States and Territories will also provide reductions and waivers to their fees to support as well.
The Prime Minister stressed during question time that this is not a moratorium on rent – people are still required to pay rent, particularly if their business has not experienced a significant decline due to COVID-19. It is a moratorium on the eviction.
New requirements for people on working holidays
Agriculture and food producers are reliant on people on working holidays. While many of these people have returned home, some still remain. To support both the food producers and protect rural and regional communities, people on working holidays are required to self-isolate for 14 days before commencing work in those communities. Employers are encouraged to check this has happened when they take on new people.
The Prime Minister also encouraged Australians to also apply for these jobs to ensure our food producers can continue business as usual.
Easter and religious services
In recognition that many religious institutions conduct extra services and rites over Easter, the Prime Minister has confirmed that people involved in Easter rites can participate in the live streaming or recording of services so long as they maintain strict social distancing rules of 4m2 for each person. Bans remain for people attending services.
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