Responding to COVID-19

With some misinformation currently circulating, here is (at 1:00pm, 10/04/2020) the most up to date information from trusted government bodies including the State and Federal governments.  

 

National Coronavirus Helpline

Call this line if you are seeking information on coronavirus (COVID-19). The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Helpline: 1800 020 080

 

New COVID-19 Website:

https://www.australia.gov.au/

Please visit the website above for the Commonwealth's most up to date information on the current COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Covid-19 App

The Federal government has released an application with the most up to date information on the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes a symptom checker, isolation registration, advice and much more. Download from the apple store here or on google play here for android. 

 

WhatsApp 

In addition to the apps developed by the Federal government, they have also rolled out a WhatsApp chat for more specific questions that you may have. You can find the WhatsApp channel here or on iOS or Android.

 

When am I allowed to leave the house?

  • to obtain essential goods and services
  • receive medical treatment or health care services
  • exercise, either alone or with one other person or those who reside in the same household
  • do work or volunteering that is essential and cannot be done from home
  • visit another person’s house, as long as there are no more than 2 people who are not ordinarily members of that household
  • visit a terminally ill relative or attend a funeral
  • assist, care for or support immediate family members or close friends
  • attend court or comply with a court order
  • attend a childcare facility, school, university, or other educational institution to receive instruction that is not possible to receive at home.
  • assist with an investigation by police or other law enforcement authority
  • all shared custody arrangements of children under 18 years of age, whether informal or court-ordered, can continue as normal. You are allowed to leave the house to take children from one parent’s home to the other parent’s home
  • to avoid illness, injury or the risk of harm
  • to comply with directions of a government agency.

 

Australian border restrictions

 

  • From the 20th of March, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family can travel to Australia. All other travellers are banned from entering
  • From midnight on the 28th of March, Australian citizens, residents and their immediate family arriving in Australia will go into a mandatory two-week quarantine (in places like hotels). For example, if someone lives in Brisbane and returns to Australia through Sydney, they will have to spend two weeks in quarantine in Sydney
  • These rules will be enforced by state police, and the Australian Defence Force will help ensure people are staying in quarantine

 

Queensland border restrictions from 9th April

A person who arrives in Queensland from another State or Territory of Australia from 12.01 am on Friday 3 April 2020 will not be allowed to enter Queensland, unless they are an exempt person.

Queensland Residents

If you are a Queensland resident returning from any other place in Australia that is not a declared ‘COVID19 hotspot’ you do not have to enter self-quarantine.

If you are a Queensland resident returning to Queensland from overseas, you must self-quarantine for 14 days.

International arrivals

A person is also required to self-quarantine if they have been outside the border of Australia in the last 14 days, and the exemptions do not apply in any circumstances.

Who is exempt from the requirement to enter quarantine for 14 days?

Exempt people are those living outside of Queensland who provide critical services to Queensland:

  • national/state security
  • essential health services
  • emergency services
  • transport of goods or freight by land, sea or air, including food
  • critical maintenance/repair to critical infrastructure in Queensland
  • construction, mining/energy/agribusinesses (and see below for specific requirements for FIFO workers in these sectors)
  • federal, state or local government workers or contractors who are required to enter to Queensland to work

All people entering Qld will need a border pass (whether a Qld resident or not), and all people returning from the Greater Sydney Area are required to go into self-quarantine for 14 days. See more info here.

 

Recent Information From the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Places of social gathering

  • Public gatherings, excluding household members, have been reduced to a maximum of two people. Check State and Territory websites for further enforcement information.
  • Everyone should stay home unless you are: shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, exercising or travelling to work or education.
  • People aged over 70, aged over 60 with pre-existing conditions, or Indigenous people aged over 50 should stay home wherever possible for their own protection.
  • Evictions will be put on hold for 6 months by the states and territories. Landlords and renters are encouraged to talk about short term agreements. More information to come this week.
  • If you are in self-isolation because you are confirmed or suspected to have Coronavirus (COVID-19), or have been in close contact with a confirmed case, use this form to help us track the spread of the virus. Read more.
  • A safety net package of $1.1 billion has been announced by the Prime Minister to expand mental health and telehealth services, increase domestic violence services and provide more emergency food relief. Read more.
  • Stay informed. Download the official government “Coronavirus Australia” app in the Apple App Store or Google Play, or join our WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.
  • All travellers returning home from overseas will be quarantined in a hotel or designated facility for 14 days. Read more.
  • Pubs, licensed clubs and hotels (excluding accommodation), gyms, skateparks, indoor sporting venues, cinemas, beauty salons, play centres and outside playgrounds, places of worship and other public places must be closed. There are restrictions on attendance at weddings, funerals and outdoor fitness classes. Supermarkets and pharmacies remain open. Please check your State and Territory websites for full details.

 

State Government Announcements

  • $300 million will give cost-of-living relief to households "doing it tough", in the form of a credit of up to $200 for water and electricity payments
  • Small and medium businesses will receive both a three-month payroll tax break and a further six-month deferral. Coupled with previous announcements, this means no Queensland business affected by the pandemic will have to make a payroll tax payment this year.
  • Liquor licensing fees will be waived for shuttered venues and rent relief will be provided for state government tenants
  • Sole traders, along with small and medium businesses, will receive a $500 rebate on this year’s power bill
  • $1.2b will be used to bring on more paramedics, expand fever clinics and provide more beds if and when needed

Qld schools & childcare

From Monday 30th March, State schools across Qld will be 'student-free'. Schools will remain open to children whose parents are essential workers (anyone with a job) and for 'vulnerable students'. 

All National Cabinet Leaders have committed to re-open schools at the end of the school break, subject to the advice of the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee.

If parents choose to keep their children home from school, parents must be responsible for the conduct of the children and to ensure they adhere to the social distancing arrangements in place. Parents must be aware that while the majority of adults who contract COVID-19 have mild forms of the virus, the elderly or those with co-morbidities can have more significant symptoms.

Schools will be encouraged to provide access to online and distance learning.

The Federal Government has announced that child-care for parents still working with be available for free, and provide financial support to 13,000 child-care centres across the country.

 

How can we help prevent the spread of coronavirus?

Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and keeping your distance from others when you are sick is the best defence against most viruses. You should:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues, and wash your hands.
  • If unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people).
  • Exercise personal responsibility for social distancing measures.

 

Important Isolation Information

Self-quarantine

Queensland Health is continuing to work with the Australian Border Force to screen anyone who returns to Australia from overseas for symptoms of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and provide them with information on self-quarantine.

If you have been overseas in the last 14 days and are feeling unwell, call your doctor immediately.

If you have been overseas and are feeling well, you need to self-quarantine for 14 days from the date you arrived in Australia.

You must also self-quarantine if you have been in close contact with someone who already has novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

While you’re self-quarantining, if you start to feel unwell and develop any symptoms at all, but especially a fever or shortness of breath, a cough or a respiratory illness, you should seek immediate medical attention. Call ahead to your GP and tell them your travel history so they can prepare for your visit.

For more information, visit the Australian Government website.

What does self-quarantine mean?

Self-quarantine means staying in your home, hotel room or provided accommodation, and not leaving for the period you are required to quarantine. Only people who usually live in the household should be in the home. Do not allow visitors into the home.

Does this mean my family or other people I live with need to self-quarantine?

The rest of your household does not need to self-quarantine if you stay away from others in your home. They are only required to self-quarantine if they meet one of the criteria for self-quarantine outlined above.

As much as possible, you should:

  • stay in a room away from others
  • sleep in a separate bedroom
  • use a separate bathroom

Also, don't allow visitors.

Practice good hygiene and maintain a minimum of 1.5 metres distance.

Vulnerable people, like those over the age of 60 with chronic disease, should stay somewhere else.

See more information about self-quarantine (PDF) from the Australian Government.

How do I get things I need while in self-quarantine?

Community recovery support and assistance is available through the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors, for Queenslanders in self-quarantine due to COVID19. If you require assistance please call the Community Recovery hotline 1800 173 349.

The Queensland Government is also partnering with the Australian Red Cross, to ensure people have access to support during their period of self-quarantine. This service includes a regular telephone call to check-in on the person’s wellbeing and to identify any practical support they may need help with.

People who are self-quarantined must call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for further advice and to register for support. Staff at 13 HEALTH can connect people through to a local public health unit and other health support services.

What happens when I end my 14 days of self-quarantine?

If you have self-quarantined for 14 days without any symptoms, you are free to go about your usual activities and return to work, school, childcare, TAFE and university.

If you require a medical certificate, you will need to see a GP.

You should seek medical attention immediately if you develop symptoms while in self-quarantine.

 

Australian Government - Business

 

Update on Commerical Tenancies

National Cabinet has made further progress on the issue of commercial tenancies.

They have agreed that a mandatory code of conduct guided by certain principles will be developed and subsequently legislated by State and Territory Governments to apply for tenancies where the tenant is eligible for the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper assistance and is a small or medium-sized enterprise (less than $50 million turnover).

The principles that guide the code will be:

a. Where it can, rent should continue to be paid, and where there is financial distress as a result of COVID-19 (for example, the tenant is eligible for assistance through the JobKeeper program), tenants and landlords should negotiate a mutually agreed outcome

b. There will be a proportionality to rent reductions based on the decline in turnover to ensure that the burden is shared between landlords and tenants

c. There will be a prohibition on termination of leases for non-payment of rent (lockouts and eviction)

d. There will be a freeze on rent increases (except for turnover leases)

e. There will be a prohibition on penalties for tenants who stop trading or reduce opening hours

f. There will be a prohibition on landlords passing land tax to tenants (if not already legislated)

g. There will be a prohibition on landlords charging interest on unpaid rent

h. There will be a prohibition on landlords from making a claim to a bank guarantee or security deposit for non-payment of rent

i. Ensure that any legislative barriers or administrative hurdles to lease extensions are removed (so that a tenant and landlord could agree a rent waiver in return for a lease extension)

For landlords and tenants that sign up to the code of conduct, States and Territories have agreed to look at providing the equivalent of at least a three month land tax waiver and three month land tax deferral on application for eligible landowners, with jurisdictions to continue to monitor the situation. Landlords must pass on the benefits of such moves to the tenants.

In cases where parties have signed to the code of conduct, the ability for tenants to terminate leases as mentioned in the National Cabinet Statement on 29 March 2020 will not apply. Mediation will be provided as needed through existing State and Territory mechanisms.

The proposed code of conduct will be discussed at the next meeting of the National Cabinet on Tuesday 7 April.

Support for individuals

If you have lost your job or have had your hours significantly reduced as a result of COVID-19, you may be eligible for support payments through Centrelink. If you have never received income support and don't have a Centrelink CRN, you don't have to enter a Centerlink building to confirm your identity. For more information, you can check out this handy factsheet.

For people already getting a payment from Centrelink, you don't need to contact them for additional payments. These payments include the two lump sum payments being rolled out from the 31 March and the 13 July, and the Coronvirus Supplement which will see a fortnightly $550 increase on top of your normal payment rate. For more details on eligiblity see this factsheet.

For information about the Australian Banking Association's response to COVID-19 and how Australian banks are helping customers in these difficult times, click here.

Sole trader without employees

If you're a sole trader and do not employ any staff you are eligible for:

The increased instant asset write-off

Under normal circumstances, individual assets less than $30,000 are eligible for the instant asset write off. The Government has lifted this threshold to $150,000 for assets that are either installed or ready for first use by 30 June 2020.

Read more about the increased instant asset write-off .

Backing Business Investment (BBI)

A time limited 15 month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50 per cent of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset’s cost.

Learn more about Backing Business Investment.

Increased and accelerated income support

The Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This supplement will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the eligible payment categories. These changes will apply for the next six months.

Find out about the increased and accelerated income support.

Assistance for affected regions, communities and industries

The Government has created an initial $1 billion support fund to provide assistance to industries and regions severely affected by the economic impacts of Coronavirus.

Read more about the assistance for affected regions, communities and industries.

SME Guarantee Scheme

This will provide businesses with funding to meet immediate cash flow needs, by further enhancing lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit. Businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive these loans.

Learn more about the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme.

Early access to superannuation

You can access up to $10,000 of your superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. You will be able to apply for early release of your superannuation from mid-April 2020.

Read more about early access to your superannuation.

Tax support

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is providing relief for some tax obligations for businesses affected by the outbreak, on a case-by-case basis. Contact the ATO’s Emergency Support Infoline for businesses on 1800 806 218 for more information or to request this help.

Support for employers

If you employ staff, you may be eligible for:

Temporary cash flow support

Employers will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of their salary and wages withheld (up from 50 per cent), with the maximum payment being increased from $25,000 to $50,000 and the minimum payment increased from $2,000 to $10,000.

An additional payment is also being introduced equal to the total of all of the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments received. This means that eligible businesses will receive at least $20,000 up to a total of $100,000 under both payments.

Not-for-profit entities will also be eligible.

Learn more about Boosting cash flow for employers.

Assistance to help pay the wages of apprentices or trainees

Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during the 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer.

Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter).

Read more about the assistance to help pay for the wages of your apprentices or trainees.

Casual employees

If you employ a casual employee and they can’t work because they become sick or need to self-isolate, or their income has been otherwise impacted by the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus, they may be eligible for income support payments.

The Government is making these payments quicker to access by waiving the usual waiting period in certain circumstances. Information on income support is available on the Services Australia website.

Support for your company

If you run a company and do not employ any staff you are eligible for:

Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

The Government is temporarily increasing in the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive.

The package also includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent, and providing temporary flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001 to provide temporary and targeted relief for companies from provisions of the Act to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus health crisis.

Learn more about temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

The increased instant asset write-off

Under normal circumstances, individual assets less than $30,000 are eligible for the instant asset write off. The Government has lifted this threshold to $150,000 for assets that are either installed or ready for first use by 30 June 2020.

Read more about the increased instant asset write-off.

Accelerated depreciation deduction arrangements

A time limited 15 month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50 per cent of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset’s cost.

Learn more about accelerated depreciation deduction.

Increased and accelerated income support

The Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This supplement will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the eligible payment categories. These changes will apply for the next six months.

Read more about the increased and accelerated income support.

Assistance for affected regions, communities and industries

The Government has created an initial $1 billion support fund to provide assistance to industries and regions severely affected by the economic impacts of Coronavirus.

Find out more about the assistance for affected regions, communities and industries.

Tax support

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is providing relief for some tax obligations for businesses affected by the outbreak, on a case-by-case basis. Contact the ATO’s Emergency Support Infoline for businesses on 1800 806 218 for more information or to request this help.

SME Guarantee Scheme

This will provide businesses with funding to meet immediate cash flow needs, by further enhancing lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit. Businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive these loans.

Read more about the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme

 

Queensland Government

 

Rent Assistance

The Queensland government has announced an emergency assistance program to help with people paying their rent. This is to cover people in financial hardship before increased Centrelink payments are received later this month. 

  • Payments of up to $500 available for a 4-week period.
  • Residential Tenancies Authority on 1800 497 161

The Government has also announced they will legislate the moratorium on evictions for people who are unable to pay rent due to COVID-19. They said other reasons for eviction (like tenants significantly damaging the property) will still apply.

Payroll Tax Relief

  • Immediate payroll tax refunds of $740 million for COVID-19 affected businesses
  • A payroll tax holiday and deferral until the end of 2020 for eligible businesses

Worker and Industry Support Package

Up to $500 million to assist workers who lose their job or income with retraining, job-matching and other help to transition into jobs in the industries that are vital to get Queensland through this crisis – such as health care, agriculture, food production, transport, cleaning and mining.

$300m for Households

$200 rebate for all 2.1 million Queensland households (including the $50 Asset Ownership Dividend already announced) to offset the cost of water and electricity bills.

Automatically applied through household electricity bills.

Queensland COVID-19 jobs support loans

You may be eligible for a loan to retain employees and maintain your operations.

The $500 million concessional loan facility will include low interest loans of up to $250,000 for carry on finance with an initial 12-month interest free period for businesses to retain staff.

Register your interest through the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority or contact 1800 623 946.

Mentoring sessions

The Mentoring for Growth program currently has more than 50 mentors ready to connect with impacted small businesses.

Mentors are available to provide tailored support including financial mentoring and business planning.

Contact 1300 654 687 or m4g@desbt.qld.gov.au for more information.

Financial workshops

Small businesses can access a series of workshops to learn about financial management and business planning.

Delivered by TAFE Queensland, workshops will provide you with practical tools and skills to build business resilience. You will also have an opportunity to connect and network with other small businesses facing similar issues.

Workshops will be delivered in several locations to support a place-based approach for the local small business community.

Register now for workshops in Coomera on March 12 and 19.

Details of other workshop times and locations will be posted on this website soon.

For other locations, register your interest by contacting 1300 654 687 or info@desbt.qld.gov.au.

Industry support

Market diversification and resilience grants are available for Queensland agriculture, food and fishing exporters and their critical supply chain partners, as well as industry organisations working with exporters.

Payroll tax relief package

If your business has been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19), you can defer lodging and paying payroll tax returns until 31 July 2020.

 

Brisbane City Council

 

Brisbane City Council has closed swimming pools and libraries in response to COVID-19. For more information about other closures and cancellations, click here.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has announced a $7.9m business relief package, seeing a range of council fees and chargers for businesses and lessees waived for at least three months. Businesses that have paid fees since March 1 will have them refunded, and the council will also pay back all fees and charges for events cancelled due to COVID-19. The Lord Mayor also stated that the Council will be taking a "very sympathetic view" to residents and business owners who are genuinely struggling to pay their rates. Under the assistance, payment plans or deferred payment agreements of up to nine months will be available, with no interest applied.

FULL LIST - CHANGES TO FEES AND CHARGES

Footpath dining fees – Waived for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

Outdoor dining (malls) – Credit of prepaid invoices for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020 and Council will not pursue unpaid invoices

River Pontoon Moorings (bookings) – Credit of prepaid invoices for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020 and Council will not pursue unpaid invoices

Advertising (application or license) – No fees for advertising, signs, hoardings and structures for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

Filming (application) – Waive or reduce application fees for filming approval at Council owned or controlled land or assets

Entertainment venues and events (booking) – Refunds granted for those seeking to cancel their events due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Music venues (booking) – Refunds granted for those seeking to cancel their events due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Food Act 2006 (fees) – Waived or refunded for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

Temporary Food Stalls/Premises (fees) – Waived or refunded for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

Standing vehicles, stalls booths and stands for commercial or promotional activity – Waived for small business for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

City Hall (booking) – Refunds granted for those seeking to cancel their booking due to COVID-19 

Community Hall (booking) – Refunds granted for those seeking to cancel their booking due to COVID-19

Commercial leases – Rent relief for the March to June 30 quarter for retail and tourism sector