10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Hello team. Another week is upon us.

1. Scott Morrison took to the podium last night to announce new restrictions on Australian life, in what has become something of a weekly – if not, at times, daily – occurrence. Australians will now be prohibited from gathering in groups larger than two, with only families and households excepted. Weddings will continue to be restricted to five people, and funerals to ten. Everyone has been advised to stay home for all reasons other than exercise, grocery shopping, medical care, compassionate needs, and work or employment if it absolutely cannot be done remotely.

2. It's up to the states to decide how to enforce these new rules, as is the case with the rest of the restrictions. Gladys Berejiklian, premier of NSW – the state hit hardest by COVID-19 thus far – announced this morning police would be enforcing the two-person gathering limit from midnight. "If you can work from home, you should. If you can learn from home, you should. If you can stay at home, you should," Berejiklian said.

3. As part of the above announcement, Morrison said an agreement had been struck between the states and territories on evictions. A moratorium will be placed on evicting tenants who are undergoing financial distress for a period of six months. Morrison said landlords, tenants and banks needed to liaise among themselves for solutions. "We need you to sit down, talk to each other and work this out," he said.

4. We're likely to get an announcement of some kind of wage subsidy today. Despite fighting the prospect tooth and nail over the past few weeks, several members of the government, including the prime minister and the finance minister, Matthias Cormann, have now confirmed they are hashing out the final details of some kind of wage guarantee. “Treasury is meeting as we speak, they met yesterday and the day before that and the day before that,” Morrison told reporters on Sunday. In essence, it will be targeted towards assisting employers in keeping people on the books through the COVID-19 crisis, and will follow similar schemes announced in the UK and Canada.

5. And, in case you missed it on Friday afternoon: All arrivals to Australia will now be compulsorily quarantined in hotels for 14 days. No more self-isolation – you'll now basically be under lock and key until the quarantine period is over. Arrivals are quarantined in the city of their arrival – so if you're coming back to Perth via Los Angeles and you land in Sydney, that's where you'll be holed up.

6. Myer is the latest in a slew of retailers to shut their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. The troubled department store announced late on Friday night it would close all 60 of its department stores for at least a month, standing down 10,000 staff. We can likely expect much more of this.

7. But after all this, the good news: Australia appears to be, at least in the short term, flattening the curve. Scott Morrison said the rate of infections had fallen from 25-30% to 13-15% over recent days. "They are still strong rates of increase, no doubt about that. But because we take the measures we have been taking and put them in place and we have the cooperation from the Australian people, that obviously in turn has an impact on how we are managing the spread of the virus," he said.

8. The United States' leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, predicted the US will see "millions of cases" of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 deaths. Fauci, appearing on CNN’s "State of the Union", added that he didn’t want to "be held to that", since the course of an outbreak is "such a moving target". The US death toll has doubled in just two days and the case count has surpassed China’s, with the worst outbreak in New York.

9. Many of the world's airlines could be bankrupt by May in the absence of serious government support. Here's a rolling list of the airlines which have already collapsed – including Flybe in the UK and Trans State Airlines in the US.

10. Over in the UK, where over 1,200 have died due to the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sent a letter to every citizen warning "things will get worse before they get better”. The letter will be sent to around 30 million households, costing around £5.7 million. Johnson himself tested positive for coronavirus at the end of last week.



At least it proves people are social distancing.