Scott Morrison announces $130 billion wage subsidy package


A series of new restrictions will take effect across the country from midnight tonight.

Indoor and outdoor meetings will be limited to a maximum of two people, with a few exceptions.

People have been urged to stay home unless shopping for essentials; leaving for medical or compassionate care; exercising outdoors while distancing; or if they must work or study and can't do so from home.

There are now 4166 confirmed cases across the country.

That includes 1918 in New South Wales, 821 in Victoria, 689 in Queensland, 299 in South Australia, 311 in Western Australia, 66 in Tasmania, 77 in the Australian Capital Territory and 14 in the Northern Territory.

A total of 18 Australians have died from COVID-19, with Tasmania and the ACT announcing their first deaths today.

Follow our live, rolling coverage below.

Originally published as Things you can't do after tonight

Government unveils $130 billion support package

Natalie Wolfe

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged $130 billion over the next six months to help Australians who have found themselves out of work.

Mr Morrison said the $130 billion was to "support the jobs and livelihoods of the almost six million Australians who will need that lifeline in the months ahead".

The government is also introducing a $1500 "Job Keeper" payment.

Businesses will be paid up to $1500 a fortnight, per employee, for the next six months.

Mr Morrison said the Job Keeper payment was "to keep Australians in their jobs even when the work dries up".

The Job Keeper payments will not only be for full-time workers.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the payments would also be available to part-time workers, sole traders and casuals who have been with their employer for 12 months or more.

Payments will flow from the first week of May but will be backdated to today.

Prime Minister to give details on wage support package

Natalie Wolfe

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to speak soon on the next round of federal assistance for businesses and workers.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg indicated earlier today that all details of the wage subsidy plan would be revealed this afternoon.

The policy reportedly involves paying employers $1500 per fortnight for each employee they keep on over the next six months. It's already been nicknamed the "job keeper allowance".

The PM foreshadowed the wage subsidy announcement at both of his press conferences yesterday.

"The last (stimulus) package that we announced was about broadening and strengthening the safety net for those who are going to be immediately impacted by the shock of losing their jobs," he said on Sunday morning.

"The next stage, which will be even bigger than anything you have so far seen, will go broader than that and ensure that we are working together with companies to keep people connected to those companies.

"This is part of the hibernation strategy of ensuring that we keep people connected with businesses and with their jobs so that on other side of this, Australia can bounce back stronger."

Hundreds of house parties busted by Queensland Police

Natalie Wolfe

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll has lashed hundreds of households that disregarded the nation's social distancing rules this past weekend.

Commissioner Carroll said police had seen a massive jump in house parties over the past week, with officers attending 900 noisy parties over the weekend.

"Where we have had some issues in the past two weeks is on the weekend of the 21st and 22 March, police attended 600 noisy parties. This went up significantly the last weekend to 900," she said.

"What's been occurring obviously, as people haven't been allowed to go out to clubs, they are congregating in houses.

"What that means for us obviously is an extraordinary amount of resources that have been diverted to looking after complaints and noisy parties and it is not where we should be concentrating our efforts."

Commissioner Carroll said the new restrictions, which will limit social interactions to a maximum of two people, meant police should no longer be attending any houses.

"With the new rules, partying should not be taking place in people's households, it should just be your family and you in your household."

Commissioner Carroll did thank Queenslanders for complying with the required self-isolation periods.

"In the last week or so, we got some 231 complaints through Police Link about people not abiding by the compliance rules," she said.

"As a result we did check up on 210 quarantine and did some compliance checks, and they actually were cooperating within the rules.

"I am pleased to say the public and the community is listening and a sincere thank you for that."

Queensland days away from stricter border enforcement

Natalie Wolfe

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has asked her state to be patient, with today's restrictions expected to be in place for at least a month.

Queensland is also a few days away from locking down its borders with the premier asking fellow Aussies to stay away.

"We will be moving to stricter enforcement on Friday for our borders," Ms Palaszczuk told reporters this afternoon.

"We are still seeing a lot of people coming across our borders, and it has got to stop.

"So I am sending a message to New South Wales and to Victoria. Yes, we love you. We would love you to visit Queensland but not now.

"Come back when we are right through this, and we will share the love around, but we really need everyone to only come across the border if you have a permit."

Advice on caring for elderly people

Natalie Wolfe

Coronavirus outbreaks in care homes continue to be a threat to Australia's elderly, with families questioning if they should take their loved ones out of the facilities.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Paul Kelly said it depends on individual circumstances.

"Certainly elderly people, as I have said, have a higher risk of having more severe disease so I think families need to examine that themselves and see what is the safest for their elderly parents," he said.

"If they are able to look after themselves with support in their home, that may be the best option but for others, particularly the most frail, elderly people requiring a lot of homecare… it may be best to shelter with relatives. 

"Of course, the more people in the household…the higher the chance of bringing the virus into the house and a higher chance of giving that to the elderly person.

"It is a trade-off and people have to examine their circumstances and the circumstance of their elderly relative to make that decision."

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