Staying Informed About Coronavirus
As at Monday 3 August 2020
The Queensland Government has advised Queenslanders to keep up social distancing and good hand hygiene.
They are urging that if you are unwell, stay home and immediately call your GP or 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) to arrange a test.
Queensland borders are closed to Victoria and Greater Sydney.
The Queensland Government is implementing enhanced border control measures, including border passes and identification screening.
Any person that has been in a declared COVID-19 hotspot during the past 14 days, including Victoria and Greater Sydney, must not enter Queensland.
See the list of declared COVID-19 hotspots.
Stay up to date by visiting www.covid19.qld.gov.au
Queensland border closed
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the border with New South Wales will close.
As of 1am, Saturday August 8, all visitors will be denied entry except for rare exemptions, and returning Queenslanders will have to pay for 14 days mandatory hotel quarantine.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer has declared all of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory as hotspots.
The Premier said the hard border closure put Queenslanders first.
“I said that when the moment came, I would not hesitate,” the Premier said.
“That moment has arrived.
“Victoria hasn’t improved as we hoped and I won’t wait for New South Wales to get any worse.
“I will not risk our state’s economic recovery by allowing COVID to spread. I will do everything I can to protect Queenslanders and the economy.”
Only residents of border communities and essential workers, such as truck drivers, will be able to cross the border.
Exemptions – including for compassionate reasons – will be limited. Passes for border communities will be for those with proof of address and photo ID.
The Premier said providing notice gave people time to plan.
Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles said recent examples showed a blatant disregard for the law.
“The selfish and reckless actions of a few people are putting the safety of our community at risk and threatening to undo all of the good work of Queenslanders so far,” Mr Miles said.
“I urge Queenslanders not to travel interstate; the risks are too great. Stay in Queensland and stay safe.”
The Premier said the border closure would be reviewed at the end of the month.
Queensland to ban consular hotel quarantine exemption
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced Queensland will ensure consular and diplomatic staff returning from overseas or from interstate hotspots will go into hotel quarantine.
The Premier said she would like a nationally consistent approach but we just can’t wait.
“Once again, Queensland will go it alone to protect Queenslanders,” the Premier said.
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said she would act immediately.
“This exemption is a problem. We’ve seen that in Queensland this week,” she said.
“A person was able to arrive in Queensland from overseas on a consular exemption, and he had COVID-19.
“I am very grateful to this person – he did all the right things – but was granted an exemption from hotel quarantine.
“We can no longer allow this. With the high cases overseas, the risk is simply too high.”
Dr Young said from tomorrow exemptions to hotel quarantine will only be granted on extremely extenuating circumstances, in line with current arrangements for anyone entering Queensland from overseas or a hotspot.
Qld COVID-19: Public health priorities and economic progress
There have been more examples this week of important manufacturing and construction activity progressing despite the COVID-19 worldwide downturn, while border protections were further tightened to keep Queenslanders safe.
After a week when 7 new cases were reported, there are 11 active cases, 1066 recovered and a total of 1083 as at July 31.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there had been a big increase in testing this week in response to two new cases brought back from Victoria – as well as more protection for Aged Care on Brisbane’s southside.
At the same time, visitors from Greater Sydney will be restricted from tomorrow (August 1st), as that region is added to Victoria as a declared COVID-19 hotspot.
“Now is not the time for complacency. Complacency is our enemy. So do the right thing with social distancing and hand hygiene, and we’ll get through this together,” the Premier said.
Meanwhile job-creating economic activity continues under the Government’s Unite and Recover plan – such as the start of work on concrete tunnel segments for Cross River Rail.
“Construction is a vital part of our plan, and the underground project has multiple aspects – building new stations, drilling tunnels and manufacturing materials,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Also this week:
- A $200 million infrastructure initiative will accelerate the plan to Unite and Recover.
- More domestic violence staff will be at police stations due to demand during COVID-19.
- Queensland’s COVID-19 utilities rebate has helped power prices fall by 14.8 per cent.
- Queensland is one of the first to open applications for HomeBuilder to assist recovery.
- COVID-19 support for National Parks tourism will be extended until September 30.
CASES – by Health District – as at July 31
Active: 11 Recovered: 1066 Total: 1083 Tests: 535,844
ANNOUNCEMENTS THIS WEEK
- $200 million Building Acceleration Fund to accelerate Unite and Recover
- Power prices fall by almost 15 per cent thanks to COVID-19 utilities rebate
- More Domestic Violence funding on COVID-19 frontline
- Extension to National Park fee waivers a welcome relief for tourism operators
- Apply now for a $25,000 home grant as construction plays a key role in recovery
- Movement and Gathering and Businesses, Activities and Undertakings
- Border restrictions and COVID-19 hotspots
Changes to Job Keeper Payment
- Employees employed through a special purpose entity, rather than an operating entity: Changes will address the circumstances where business structures use a special purpose entity to employ staff rather than staff being directly employed by an operating entity. The Government will provide an alternate decline in turnover test for the eligibility of special purpose service entities that provide employee labour to group members and that have not met the basic test for decline in turnover. This alternate test will apply where an entity provides the services of its employees to one or more related entities, where those related entities carry on a business deriving revenue from unrelated third parties. The alternate test will be by reference to the combined GST turnovers of the related entities using the services of the employer entity.
- Charities and the treatment of government revenue: Changes will allow charities (other than schools and universities) to elect to exclude government revenue from the JobKeeper turnover test. This will allow employing charities receiving revenue from government to use either their total turnover, or their turnover excluding government revenue, for the purposes of assessing eligibility for the JobKeeper Payment. This will help to ensure that the eligibility of charities is not adversely affected where they are delivering significant services that are funded by government.
- Religious practitioners: Changes will allow JobKeeper Payments to be made to religious institutions in respect of religious practitioners (with the exception of those that are students only), recognising that many religious practitioners are not ‘employees’ of their religious institutions.
- ‘One in, all in’ principle: Once an employer decides to participate in the JobKeeper scheme and their eligible employees have agreed to be nominated by the employer, the employer must ensure that all of these eligible employees are covered by their participation in the scheme. This includes all eligible employees who are undertaking work for the employer or have been stood down. The employer cannot select which eligible employees will participate in the scheme. As noted in the explanatory statement to the existing rules, this ‘one in, all in’ principle is already a key feature of the scheme and will be made clearer in the rules.
- Full-time students aged 16 and 17 years old: As noted in the explanatory statement to the existing rules, the benefit of the JobKeeper payment to workers over the age of 16 is justified for those who are financially independent and who require the security provided by participation in the JobKeeper scheme and the maintenance of the working relationship that it affords. The rules will provide that full-time students who are 17 years old and younger, and who are not financially independent, are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment. This clarification will apply prospectively, which would mean an eligible employer that has already met the wage condition of paying such an employee $1,500 for a fortnight could be entitled to a JobKeeper Payment in arrears for that fortnight.
- International Aid Organisations: Changes will allow entities that are endorsed under the Overseas Aid Gift Deductibility Scheme or for developed country relief to meet the requirement that not-for-profits pursue their objectives principally in Australia. The current requirement that employees must be Australian residents to be eligible under the JobKeeper program would remain in place.
- Universities: Changes will clarify that the core Commonwealth Government financial assistance provided to universities will be included in the JobKeeper turnover tests.
Jobs Finder Queensland launches — The Queensland Government has launched a new online portal to connect Queenslanders whose employment has been impacted due to COVID-19 with recruiters who can match them with new job opportunities. Read the media release.
TAFE Queensland and CQ Uni offer free online courses — Free online skill sets and micro-credentialing courses are being offer by TAFE Queensland and CQ University. Courses are in areas including in food service, community care, health support, customer engagement, digital literacy and cyber security. Find out more through the Jobs Finder Queensland online portal.
JobKeeper enrolments now open — Additional information for employers, employees, sole traders and other entities and tax and BAS agents is available on this scheme.
$150 million relief and assistance package from NBN Co — includes $50 million for internet service providers to provide discounted access for small and medium businesses.
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman may support retail lease disputes — Complete the online form and a case management officer will assess your options.
New updates to COVID-19 business assistance finder — Queensland local government support for businesses impacted by COVID-19 have been added to Business Queensland’s online business assistance finder tool.
Jobs Support Loans closed to new applications — The Queensland Government’s $500 million COVID-19 Jobs Support Loan scheme is now closed to new applications following overwhelming demand. The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority is processing submitted applications in the order they were received and will assess them until the $500 million allocation has been exhausted.
Update – April 22
April 22nd – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
There are more than 6,600 confirmed cases in Australia and sadly 71 people have died. Australia will continue to progress a successful suppression/elimination strategy for the virus. Data confirms the measures put in place to suppress the virus have largely been successful in slowing and reversing the growth of cases in Australia, to ensure our health system has the capability to manage the epidemic.
It is estimated that overall, Australia is currently detecting approximately 92 per cent of all symptomatic cases, with each state and territory individually detecting at least 80 per cent. Australia’s point estimate, when compared with other countries, is 84 per cent, the highest reported detection rate globally.
- National Cabinet received up-to-date data on the stock of personnel protective equipment (PPE) in the National Medical Stockpile, and PPE held by state and territory health systems. PPE stocks and other equipment such as ventilators are now largely sufficient to meet expected demand for Australia’s COVID19 response through to December 2020, with current social distancing and travel restriction measures in place.
- National Cabinet noted that the National Medical Stockpile does not replace state, territory or private processes to source and deliver PPE to meet their needs. To date, the National Medical Stockpile has dispatched over 22 million masks primarily to state and territories, GP’s, Community Pharmacy, ACHHOS and aged care, with a further 11.5 million being dispatched this week.
- Unnecessarily delaying elective surgeries can worsen health outcomes, increase anxiety and reduce social and economic productivity.
- As a result of Australia’s success in flattening the curve, our low rates of COVID related hospitalisation and new data on stocks of PPE, National Cabinet agreed that from 27 April 2020, category 2 and equivalent procedures can recommence across the public and private hospital sectors.
- National Cabinet further agreed that the following procedures can recommence from 27 April 2020:
- Screening programs (cancer and other diseases)
- Post cancer reconstruction procedures (such as breast reconstruction)
- Procedures for children under 18 years of age.
- Joint replacements (incl knees, hips, shoulders)
- Cataracts and eye procedures
- Endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures
- PPE stocks for these elective surgeries and procedures will not be taken from the National Medical Stockpile.
- It is estimated that a gradual restart of elective surgeries will see 1 in 4 closed elective surgery operating lists reopen, with flexibility for states to determine the appropriate levels of elective surgery within this general framework.
- Reintroduction of elective surgery in a staged manner balances the ongoing need for the capacity to treat COVID-19 patients, while allowing our hospitals to treat elective surgery patients.
- These arrangements will be reviewed by 11 May 2020, to determine if other elective surgeries and procedures can recommence and volumes increased.
National Cabinet further agreed to the Australian Dental Association recommendation that dentists move to level 2 restrictions (such as fitting dentures, braces, non-high speed drill fillings and basic fillings), allowing a broader range of dental interventions to occur where the risk of transmission can be managed and PPE stocks procured by the private sector.
Aged Care response
- National Cabinet discussed the lessons learned from recent COVID-19 outbreaks in residential aged care facilities and acknowledged the critical importance of adequate infection prevention and control measures in minimising the spread of COVID-19.
- It is not acceptable, fair or compassionate for any residential aged care facilities to ban visits from carers and families.
- National Cabinet reconfirmed the principles announced on 18 March 2020 regarding visits to aged care facilities. In line with these principles, visits should be limited to a short duration, a maximum of two visitors at one time per day, and conducted in line with social distancing practices. This is designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in residential aged care facilities.
- Infection prevention and control measures must be balanced against the needs and best interests of residents. Aged care providers are best placed to make these assessments on a case by case basis.
- National Cabinet also reiterated that the following visitors and staff (including visiting workers) should not be permitted to enter the aged care facilities:
- Those who have returned from overseas in the last 14 days;
- Those who have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days;
- Those with fever or any (even mild) symptoms of acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath); and
- Those who have not been vaccinated against influenza (after 1 May).
- All Governments are committed to protecting and supporting elderly and vulnerable Australians and are working together, with aged care providers, to manage infection control. This extends to supporting health and aged care workers to be safe and healthy while at work, including appropriate use of PPE and screening of staff.
Family members who may be concerned about the care being provided to loved ones in residential aged care facilities are encouraged to contact the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
National Cabinet re-emphasised that the one person per four square metres rule does not apply in school classrooms. Schools should consult the most recent AHPPC advice, issued on 16 April 2020.
In order to best coordinate information outlining the Australian Government’s response to coronavirus, a central source is now available at www.australia.gov.au.This website will provide key updates on the government’s response across all categories, linking you to relevant department websites.
A 24/7 National Coronavirus Health Information Line is available on 1800 020 080. The line provides health and situation information on the outbreak.
Australians should also download the Australian Government’s Coronavirus app from the Apple and Android app stores, and visit aus.gov.au/whatsapp to learn more.
Update – April 20
Updates from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment
- The Higher Education Relief Package, which will support workers displaced by the pandemic to upskill or retrain, while also supporting universities and other providers of higher education to continue teaching
- The Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package – Exceptional Circumstances Supplementary Payment, which is available to providers / services needing a ‘top up’ on the Early Childhood Education and Care Package payment in order to remain viable.
Telecommunications relief package
NBN Co will provide $150 million in financial relief to internet providers to assist families and businesses to stay connected through the agreement of telecommunication hardship principles.
- Telecommunications hardship principles for COVID-19
- $150 million NBN assistance for families and businesses
Aviation industry support
The Australian Government will support Qantas and Virgin Australia Groups to operate a minimum domestic network.
Support for regional and small publishers
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has brought forward the release of the 2020 round of the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund. Applications will now open in late April.
Update – April 3
Early Childhood Education and Relief Package
- Around one million families are set to receive free child care during the coronavirus pandemic under a plan from the Morrison Government that will help deliver hip pocket relief and help the early childhood education and care sector make it through to the other side of this crisis.
- Under the plan, the Government will pay 50 per cent of the sector’s fee revenue up to the existing hourly rate cap based on a point in time before parents started withdrawing their children in large numbers, but only so long as services remain open and do not charge families for care. The funding will apply from 6 April based on the number of children who were in care during the fortnight leading into 2 March, whether or not they are attending services.
- The plan supports families while also ensuring as many of the sector’s 13,000 child care and early learning services as possible could keep their doors open for workers and vulnerable families who need those services.
- The plan provides funding certainty to early childhood education and care services at a time where enrolments and attendance are highly unpredictable. This, along with the JobKeeper payment, means services can offer free education and care.
- The plan means the sector is expected to receive $1.6 billion over the coming three months from taxpayer subsidies because of the March 2 baseline that has been set, compared to an estimated $1.3 billion if current revenues and subsidies had continued based on the existing system and the significant reduction of enrolments the sector has seen.
- The new system will see payments start flowing at the end of next week. The system will be reviewed after one month, with an extension to be considered after three months. The payments will be paid in lieu of the Child Care (CCS) and Additional Child Care Subsidy payments.
- Until the payments arrive, we are allowing services to waive gap fees for families who keep their children home, and families will be able to use the 20 extra absence days the government has funded for coronavirus related reasons without giving up their place in a child care centre.
- If you have terminated your enrolment since 17 February, then I encourage you to get back in contact with your centre and re-start your arrangements. Re-starting your enrolment will not require you to send your child to child care and it certainly won’t require you to pay a gap fee. Re-starting your enrolment will, however, hold your place for that point in time when things start to normalise, and you are ready to take your child back to their centre.
- We will also make payments of higher amounts available in exceptional circumstances, such as where greater funding is required to meet the needs of emergency workers or vulnerable children.
- The Morrison Government will also provide $453.2 million for preschools in 2021 to support almost 350,000 children to attend preschool. The funding injection comes on top of the $3.2 billion the government has delivered for preschool education since 2014.
- Child care services seeking health and situation information about COVID-19 should contact the 24/7 National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. Information is also available from https://www.dese.gov.au/news/coronavirus-covid-19
New Jobs Hub Highlighting Job Opportunities for Australians
- The Government has today launched a new Jobs Hub which highlights which businesses and organisations have multiple jobs on offer.
- An up to date list of a selection of businesses and organisations that are currently hiring, and how to contact them, can be found at: www.dese.gov.au/covid-19/jobs-hub
- While many businesses have been adversely affected by COVID-19 and are reducing their workforces, there are some areas of the economy which have an increased demand for workers.
- These include jobs in a range of sectors and occupations including health and care sectors, transport and logistics, some areas of retail, mining and mining services, manufacturing, agriculture and government sectors, among others.
- Employers who are hiring and want support to connect with potential candidates can also contact the Department of Education, Skills and Employment at [email protected] to be connected directly with businesses reducing their workforces; and the employment services network to source suitable candidates.
- If you are hiring, particularly scaling up your workforce quickly, I encourage you to email our Workforce Contact Centre so you can be connected with the support you need to get your workforce on board.
Our Employer Response Unit can work with you to identify the best option to source suitable candidates, and help you with your recruitment to make it as smooth as possible so you can get on with delivering essential services in this difficult time.”
Update – April 2
Border restrictions eased for farmers and agribusinesses
Essential farm and agribusiness workers
The way is open for farmers and agribusinesses to continue essential agriculture work.
The Chief Health Officer approved a class exemption to the Border Restrictions Direction (No. 12) for Queensland and New South Wales resident farmers and agribusiness workers who need to:
- perform essential agribusiness services for the agriculture supply chain
- conduct farming activities
- provide timely veterinary services
- care for livestock.
The new exemption commenced on 22 August 2020 and is valid for one month. You cannot complete an electronic Queensland Border Declaration Pass for this exemption, but you will need to complete a written Queensland Border Declaration Pass upon arrival at the border, together with providing supporting evidence. More information can be found at the Business Queensland website.