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Tourism Australia Updates

Tourism Australia will be hosting weekly webinars every Friday to keep the industry connected and informed as you try to navigate your businesses and people through the current crisis. The webinars will bring you the most up to date information direct from the relevant experts.

There will be an invite each week for the webinars that will be sent out by Tourism Australia, registrations are essential as there are limited numbers. The webinars will also be recorded for later viewing. To join the webinar, do so via the Tourism Australia registration page. If you do not already receive these invitations, please do by subscribing to the Tourism Australia 'Essentials' newsletter

 

25 March 2020

 

AUSTRALIA                                                      

RESTRICTIONS 

National Cabinet agrees new controls to isolate returning travellers 

Australian governments met today as the National Cabinet to take further action to slow the spread of coronavirus to save lives, and to save livelihoods. 

The Cabinet noted that, substantial numbers of returned travellers and small community outbreaks associated with travellers continue to contribute most of the significant further growth in the coronavirus cases in Australia. 

National Cabinet agreed to take action to further restrict the movement of incoming travellers and to increase compliance checks on travellers who are already undertaking their mandatory self-isolation period at home.  

National Cabinet agreed that: 

  • As soon as possible, but no later than 11:59pm Saturday 28 March 2020, all travellers arriving in Australia will be required to undertake their mandatory 14 day self-isolation at designated facilities (for example, a hotel).
  • Travellers will be transported directly to designated facilities after appropriate immigration, customs and enhanced health checks.
  • Designated facilities will be determined by the relevant state or territory government and will ordinarily be in the city of entry where the traveller has cleared immigration, but facilities in other areas may be used if required.
  • These requirements will be implemented under state and territory legislation and will be enforced by state and territory governments, with the support of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the Australian Border Force (ABF) where necessary.
  • The Commonwealth will provide support through the ABF and ADF for these arrangements across Australia, and that states and territories would meet the costs and determine any contributions required for travellers arriving within their jurisdictions.
  • Air and maritime crews will be required to continue to undertake the existing precautions they are following where they self-isolate in their accommodation if they enter Australia until their next work voyage.
  • The Australian Defence Force will begin assisting state and territory governments to undertake quarantine compliance checks of those who are required to be in mandatory isolation after returning from overseas.
  • ADF personnel will bolster local police efforts in visiting the homes and residences of Australians who are in mandatory isolation as directed by state and territory governments and will report to the local police whether the identified individual was at the residence.

Changes to restrictions on hairdressers and funerals 

Yesterday the Federal Government announced changes to social distancing measures announced on Wednesday. 

Hairdresser time limit scrapped 

The Federal Government yesterday lifted its restrictions on hairdressers and barbers, scrapping the rule that haircuts needed to be less than 30 minutes. 

The 4m2 rule must be strictly observed. 

Funeral restrictions eased (very by state) 

States and Territories have also been given the power to allow more than 10 people to attend funerals in hardship cases. 

ECONOMIC STIMULUS & SUPPORT 

 

Second NSW stimulus package released 

The NSW Government today released the second stage of its economic package aimed at keeping people in jobs, helping businesses and supporting our most vulnerable in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Key elements of the NSW COVID-19 stage two package include: The creation of a $1 billion Working for NSW fund to sustain business, create new jobs and retrain employees; Deferral of payroll tax for business with payrolls over $10 million for six months (up to $4 billion deferred); Deferral of gaming tax for clubs, pubs and hotels, and lotteries tax for six months, conditional on these funds being used to retain staff; Deferral of the parking space levy for six months and Deferral of rents for six months for commercial tenants with less than 20 employees in all Government-owned properties. 

NSW Government launches coronavirus hotline for business  

NSW workers and businesses are now able to access a range of advice and support on non-health related COVID-19 enquiries via the Service NSW contact centre 13 77 88. 

HEALTH 

Australian cases of coronavirus increasing 

Australia has over 3000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the majority of which are in NSW and Victoria. Australia has one of the most rigorous testing systems in the world, with more than 180,000 people tested to date.  

More people now eligible for coronavirus testing 

The Federal Government expanded the list of people eligible for coronavirus testing criteria to include testing people with fever or acute respiratory infection in: 

  • all health workers
  • all aged/residential care workers
  • geographically localised areas where there is elevated risk of community transmission as defined by the local public health unit
  • where no community transmission is occurring, high risk settings where there are two or more plausibly-linked cases, for example:
  • aged and residential care
  • rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • detention centres/correctional facilities
  • boarding schools
  • military bases (including Navy ships) that have live-in accommodation.

National Cabinet also agreed that testing will be expanded to include hospitalised patients with fever and acute respiratory symptoms of unknown cause, at the discretion of the treating clinician. 

This is the minimum testing criteria. States and territories have the discretion to expand their own criteria for testing if they have capacity. 

GLOBAL 

HEALTH 

 

Global coronavirus spread 

There are now approximately 530,000 cases of the coronavirus confirmed globally, the majority of which are in the USA, Italy and Spain. The USA has now surpassed China as the epicentre of the virus. The number of deaths in both Spain and Italy have surpassed those reported in China. 

RESTRICTIONS 

 

China reduces incoming flights 

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced Thursday that in order to “hold back” potential imports of Covid-19 from outside the country, it will be drastically cutting back the number of international flights starting Sunday. 

According to a translation of the CAAC statement posted to its website “each Chinese airline is only allowed to maintain one route to any specific country with no more than one flight per week; each foreign airline is only allowed to maintain one route to China with no more than one weekly flight.” The CAAC told airlines to submit their plans and to not fill airplanes past 75% capacity. Furthermore, airlines are allowed to use passenger aircraft to transport freight, which would not count toward the limit. 

Iran in lockdown 

Iran has banned travel within the country and ordered people to return to their hometowns or face fines. Effective Friday, Iran also prohibited gatherings and closed parks, recreation centres, pools and other places 

Russia shuts down international flights 

According to the Moscow Times, Russia is shutting down all international flights to and from the country in an attempt to mitigate a worsening outbreak. All international flights, with the exception of evacuations of Russian citizens from abroad, will be halted from midnight Friday.  

The Russian Government has also announced that it will shut down restaurants, bars, parks and shops other than grocery stores and pharmacies. 

Finnish government lockdowns its largest region 

The Finnish government has announced that its southern Uusimaa region, which contains its capital Helsinki, will be isolated from the rest of the country via traffic restrictions starting Friday in attempt to slow the spread of the virus from the country’s most populous region to the rest of Finland. 

GLOBAL ECONOMIC STIMULUS MEASURES 

G20 leaders pledge to work together to combat the coronavirus and inject $5 trillion into the global economy. 

Leaders from the Group of 20 nations pledged Thursday to inject $5 trillion into the global economy and do “whatever it takes” to counter the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We will continue to conduct bold and large-scale fiscal support,” the leaders said. “The magnitude and scope of this response will get the global economy back on its feet and set a strong basis for the protection of jobs and the recovery of growth.” 

Singapore injects more to support local businesses 

Singapore has announced it is earmarking an additional $48.4 billion to support businesses, workers and families amid the ongoing pandemic, The Straits Times reported

It follows an earlier $6.4 billion that the city-state’s government had set aside, for a total of $55 billion or 11% of GDP, in measures, according to the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat. 

US airlines to benefit from Trumps $2 trillion stimulus package 

According to Fortune magazine, “Struggling U.S. airlines would be eligible to receive federal loans and direct cash assistance if they are willing to give an option for an ownership stake to the government. 

The program allocates $25 billion to passenger carriers and $3 billion to airline contractors providing ground staff such as caterers, while cargo haulers would see $4 billion.” 

 

23 March 2020

 

AUSTRALIA

 

Number of Australians infected with coronavirus increasing

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Australia has risen to 2,252, a significant proportion of which have an overseas travel history. More than 1000 of these are in NSW.

Speaking at a press conference last night, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Brendan Murphy stressed that returned travelers must self-isolate as soon as they arrive in Australia.

Over 162,000 Australians have been tested.

 

Further restrictions on travel and non-essential gatherings agreed

Last night the National Cabinet agreed new measures to control the spread of the coronavirus.

On unveiling the enhanced restrictions, Prime Minister Scott Morrison reiterated that Australians must stay at home unless it is “absolutely necessary” to go out.

Cabinet will meet again tonight. A summary of the new controls follows:

 

Ban on Australians travelling overseas

The Government has implemented a ‘do not travel’ ban on Australians travelling overseas under the Biosecurity Act 2015 effective as at midday today.

This will help avoid travellers returning to Australia with coronavirus and the risks of spreading coronavirus to other countries.

Exemptions, will apply to a range of categories of travellers, including for those citizens ordinarily resident overseas, where travel is essential or necessary, where travel is in our national interest, and on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.

 

Further restrictions on non-essential public gatherings

The following facilities were restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:

  • pubs, registered and licensed clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
  • gyms and indoor sporting venues
  • cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos and night clubs
  • restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
  • religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies)

From 12:00am on 26 March, these restrictions will extend to the following facilities:

  • food courts (except for take away and home delivery)
  • auction houses, real estate auctions and open houses
  • personal services ( beauty, nail, tanning, waxing and tattoo salons)
  • Spa and massage parlours, excluding health related services such as physiotherapy
  • amusement parks, arcades and play centres (indoor and outdoor)
  • Strip clubs, brothels and sex on premises venues.
  • galleries, national institutions, historic sites and museums
  • Health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre and spin facilities, saunas, bathhouses and wellness centres and swimming pools
  • community facilities such as community halls, libraries and youth centres, RSL and PCYC
  • Gaming and gambling venues
  • Indoor and outdoor markets (excluding food markets). States and territories will make their own announcements about this.

Weddings can be conducted with no more than five people, including the couple, the celebrant and the witnesses. The 4 square metre rule and social distancing must be observed.

Funerals must be limited to no more than 10 people. The 4 square metre rule and social distancing must be observed.

Hairdressers and barbers can continue to operate under strict new rules. The four square metre rule and social distancing must be observed. Clients must also not spend more than 30 minutes inside the premises.

Bootcamps and personal training can be conducted outdoors with no more than 10 people and social distancing observed.

These measures also apply to outdoor spaces associated with the above venues.

Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfast, campsites, caravan parks and boarding houses will be a decision for each state and territory:

  • The Queensland Government has today announced today it will close all camping grounds from 26 March, 2020.
  • Western Australia has decided to keep all of these venues open.

National COVID Commission established to unlock resources and support families, businesses and communities

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, today announced the creation of a new National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) that will coordinate advice to the Australian Government on actions to anticipate and mitigate the economic and social effects of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The Commission, led by former Fortescue CEO Neville Power, will enable the private sector to work with governments and to approach governments with ideas.

It will ensure the Government receives the most comprehensive advice to meet the challenges ahead to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus and help build a bridge to recovery. This is about working cooperatively across private-to-private and public-to-private networks to unlock resources, break bottlenecks and fix problems so Australian families, businesses and communities are supported through the challenging months ahead.

Parks Australia announces temporary closures

Parks Australia has today announced that the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Booderee, Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Parks will close to visitors and other non-essential travellers for a minimum of two weeks. Following consultation with key stakeholders including traditional owners Parks Australia has determined that the following closures will take effect:

  • Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, from 5pm Tuesday, 24 March 2020,
  • Booderee National Park, Jervis Bay Territory, from 5pm Wednesday, 25 March 2020; and
  • Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Parks, Northern Territory, from 5pm, Thursday, 26 March 2020.

Overseas airport closures make it harder for Australians to get home

Australians seeking urgent repatriation have been dealt a blow with several airports closing to all foreigners and others as they implement strict restrictions.

This means major airports - including Dubai, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore - will no longer be used for layovers.

With thousands of Australians stranded overseas, already scarce flights home have been further limited.

GLOBAL

 

Global coronavirus cases continue to grow

There are currently in excess of 422,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world. Italy remains the epicentre of the virus with almost 70,000 confirmed cases (compared to China’s 81,000). Over 108,000 people have recovered.

UK, India, New Zealand and South Africa enter full lockdown

The UK entered full lockdown on Monday, joining  other European countries including Italy, France, Spain and Germany. The lockdown requires closure of all nonessential businesses, bans meetings of more than two people and requires people to stay in their homes, except for “very limited” reasons such as trips for food or medicine. People are allowed to travel to and from work if they are “absolutely” unable to work from home, the government said.

On Tuesday night Indian Prime Minister announced a three week nation-wide shutdown. In recent days India has banned international and domestic flights and suspended passenger service on its extensive rail system. The move puts 1.3billion people - nearly one fifth of the world’s population under lockdown.

South Africa will enforce a three-week lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, commencing midnight March 26.

New Zealand will go into lockdown at midnight tonight. All non-essential businesses will close, and people must stay at home for at least four weeks.

Read more about border restrictions around the world here.

 

Trump wants to “open-up” the US by Easter

Speaking at a virtual town hall meeting last night President Trump stated he wanted to “open up” the US by Easter. His announcement came as WHO officials warned that the USA has the potential to overtake Italy as the global epicentre of the coronavirus. Over 50,000 people in the United States are confirmed to be infected.

Tokyo Olympics postponed until 2021

In a joint statement Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach, announced yesterday that the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to take place in July will be postponed. The Games will be postponed to a date “beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody in the Olympic Games and the international community”.

China lifts Wuhan lockdown but tightens quarantine for overseas arrivals

According to media reports, Chinese authorities say they will lift a two-month lockdown in most of Hubei province, where the coronavirus pandemic originated, as the number of cases eases. Hubei has seen almost no new infections for more than a week.

The provincial capital Wuhan, where the virus first appeared and which has been in total lockdown since January 23, will see its travel restrictions lifted on April 8. Wuhan residents will be allowed to leave with a health tracking code.

The risk from overseas infections in China appears to be on the rise prompting tougher screening and quarantine measures in major cities such as Beijing.

China tourist attractions reopen

The latest report conducted by China's largest online travel agency Trip.com Group showed that as of mid-March, more than 1,000 tourist sites had reopened to visitors across the country, of which over 100 were 5A attractions, the country's highest rating for scenic spots.

The  China National Tourism Organisation reports that a total of 115 A-level tourist attractions have reopened to the public by noon in Hubei Province, the most hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.

A small section of the Great Wall of China  also reopened to visitors on March 24, a sign that life in China is slowly returning to normal following the coronavirus epidemic.

 

23 March 2020

Australian Governments Respond – restrictions & support

Australian Governments have implemented further restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, while at the same time introducing measures to support jobs, businesses and the economy through the crisis. There’s been a lot to absorb, so at the bottom of this note is quite a lengthy summary.

Government Hotline for more information -  13 28 46

The Federal Government has established an advice hotline for small and medium-sized businesses (13 28 46).

Domestic Travel - avoid non-essential

You will have all seen the announcement for all non- essential travel to be avoided, made in the lead up to the school holidays.

TA’s One Stop Shop for Industry Support – Updated Daily

To help you navigate the change and access any financial support available, we have created a One-Stop-Shop of information on our website.

TA Webinars Every Friday – Invites to come

Now that there is so much information out there as people face a mountain of decisions, and work remotely, we will be starting weekly webinars each Friday. This will start off with information specific to the tourism sector from experts ranging from what support is out there for the Industry, to how to keep marketing and manage social media, and to how to best manage mental health. An invite will come out over the next day.

 

FURTHER RESTICTIONS AND SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES

The Prime Minister, state and territory Premiers and Chief Ministers met on 22 March 2020 as the National Cabinet. They agreed to further actions to support social distancing measures already put in place and protect the Australian community from the spread of coronavirus as set out below:

Places of social gathering

National Cabinet agreed to move to more widespread restrictions on social gatherings.

Premiers and Chief Ministers agreed to implement, through state and territory laws, new Stage 1 restrictions on social gatherings, to be reviewed on a monthly basis.

Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least 6 months.

The following facilities have been restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:

  • Pubs, registered and licensed clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues 
  • Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
  • Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).

These measures also apply to outdoor spaces associated with the above venues.

These enhanced measures build on existing measures to slow the virus and save lives:

  • No non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people outside or more than 100 people inside.
  • All non-essential indoor gatherings of less than 100 people must have no more than one person per 4sqm. All Australians should expect their local businesses to be following this rule.
  • Where possible, keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others
  • Avoid non essential travel including all domestic holiday travel.

Premiers and Chief Ministers agreed to consider further Stage 2 restrictions if social distancing measures are not adhered to.

In addition to these new rules States and Territories are also introducing their own reforms.

States and vulnerable communities close borders

In addition to these new rules States and Territories are also introducing their own reforms. In particular, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland as well as Hamilton Island, Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands have imposed further border either to respond to bans on non-essential travel or to protect vulnerable communities.

Iconic beaches closed

Over the weekend Sydney beaches stretching from the Eastern Suburbs, including Australia’s iconic Bondi Beach to Palm Beach on the Northern Beaches were closed as the number of people on those beaches exceeded the 500 person rule.

ECONOMIC STIMULUS FOR THOSE AFFECTED BY THE CORONAVIRUS

On 22 March the Australian Government announced a second economic stimulus package to help support those businesses, workers and households affected by coronavirus restrictions. The second package of $66 billion builds on that unveiled last week and brings the Government’s total support at this time to a total of $189 billion. The Government is moving quickly to implement this package. To that end, a package of Bills was introduced into Parliament today  (23 March 2020) designed to support businesses in managing short-term cash flow challenges, provide support to individuals, severely affected communities and regions, and to ensure the continued flow of credit in the Australian economy.

A summary of those measures follows:

 

  1. Support for individuals and households

 

The Government will provide payments to assist lower-income Australians, including pensioners, other social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.

Income support for individuals

Over the next six months, 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 will be paid to both existing and new recipients of Jobseeker Payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.

Payments to support households

The Government is providing two separate $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. The first payment will be made from 31 March 2020 and the second payment will be made from 13 July 2020.

Temporary early release of superannuation

The Government is allowing individuals affected by the coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

Temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown rates

The Government is temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products by 50 per cent for 2019-20 and 2020-21. This measure will benefit retirees with account-based pensions and similar products by reducing the need to sell investment assets to fund minimum drawdown requirements.

Reducing social security deeming rates

On 12 March, the Government announced a 0.5 percentage point reduction in both the upper and lower social security deeming rates. The Government will now reduce these rates by another 0.25 percentage points. 

  1. Support for businesses

Boosting Cash Flow for Employers

The Government is enhancing the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure it announced on 12 March 2020. The Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses, and not-for-profits (NFPs) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will help businesses and NFPs with their cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.

Small and medium-sized business entities with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible. NFPs, including charities, with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers will now also be eligible. This will support employment at a time where NFPs are facing increasing demand for services.

Under the enhanced scheme, 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. In addition, the minimum payment is being increased from $2,000 to $10,000.

An additional payment is also being introduced in the July — October 2020 period. Eligible entities will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all of the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments they have received. This means that eligible entities will receive at least $20,000 up to a total of $100,000 under both payments.

Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

The Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and to initiate bankrupt proceedings against an individual as well as temporarily increasing the time companies and individuals 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 targeted relief from provisions of the Act to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the coronavirus health crisis. 

The ATO will tailor solutions for owners or directors of business that are currently struggling due to the coronavirus, including temporary reduction of payments or deferrals, or withholding enforcement actions including Director Penalty Notices and wind-ups.

 

Increasing the instant asset write-off 

The Government is increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanding access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020. In 2017-18 there were more than 360,000 businesses that benefited from the current instant asset write-off, claiming deductions to the value of over $4 billion.

Backing business investment 

The Government is introducing 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.

Supporting apprentices and trainees

The Government is supporting small business to retain their apprentices and trainees. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for 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 that employs that apprentice. Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter).

Support for coronavirus-affected regions, communities and airlines

The Government will set aside $1 billion to support regions most significantly affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. These funds will be available to assist during the outbreak and the recovery. In addition, the Government is assisting our airline industry by providing relief from a number of taxes and Government charges estimated to total up to $715 million. 

  1. Supporting the flow of credit 

The Government, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority have taken coordinated action to ensure the flow of credit in the Australian economy. Timely access to credit is vital for businesses to manage the impacts of the Coronavirus.

Support for immediate cash flow needs for SMEs

Under the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme, the Government will provide a guarantee of 50 per cent to SME lenders to support new short-term unsecured loans to SMEs. The Scheme will guarantee up to $40 billion of new lending. This will provide businesses with funding to meet cash flow needs, by further enhancing lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit.

Quick and efficient access to credit for small business 

The Government is cutting red tape by providing a temporary exemption from responsible lending obligations for lenders providing credit to existing small business customers. This reform will help small businesses get access to credit quickly and efficiently. 

Reserve Bank of Australia — Supporting the flow and reducing the cost of credit

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced a package on 19 March 2020 that will put downward pressure on borrowing costs for households and businesses. This will help mitigate the adverse consequences of the Coronavirus on businesses and support their day-to-day trading operations. The RBA is supporting small businesses as a particular priority. 

The RBA announced a term funding facility for the banking system. Banks will have access to at least $90 billion in funding at a fixed interest rate of 0.25 per cent. This will reinforce the benefits of a lower cash rate by reducing funding costs for banks, which in turn will help reduce interest rates for borrowers. To encourage lending to businesses, the facility offers additional low-cost funding to banks if they expand their business lending, with particular incentives applying to new loans to SMEs.

In addition, the RBA announced a further easing in monetary policy by reducing the cash rate to 0.25 per cent. It is also extending and complementing the interest rate cut by taking active steps to target a 0.25 per cent yield on 3-year Australian Government Securities. 

Support for Non-ADI and smaller ADI lenders in the securitisation market 

The Government is providing the Australian Office of Financial Management (AOFM) with $15 billion to invest in structured finance markets used by smaller lenders, including non-Authorised Deposit-Taking Institutions (non-ADI) and smaller Authorised Deposit-Taking Institutions (ADI). This support will be provided by making direct investments in primary market securitisations by these lenders and in warehouse facilities.

Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority — Ensuring banks are well placed to lend

The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority has announced temporary changes to its expectations regarding bank capital ratios. The changes will support banks’ lending to customers, particularly if they wish to take advantage of the new facility being offered by the RBA.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information on the Australian Government’s Economic Response to the coronavirus visit treasury.gov.au/coronavirus.

STATES AND TERRITORIES

States and Territories have also announced their own support packages.

 

17 March 2020

Update from Tourism NT

COVID-19 UPDATE - ADVICE FOR BUSINESSES
The situation around coronavirus (COVID-19) is rapidly evolving and this information is correct as at 9am, 17 March 2020.

For up-to-date information, go to securent.nt.gov.au

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

Domestic Travel
• There are no restrictions on domestic travel within Australia.

International Travel
• All Australians must reconsider the need for overseas travel.
• All international arrivals into Australia must self-isolate for 14 days and this includes Australian residents.

ADVICE FOR BUSINESS

What should I tell staff?
• Brief all employees on relevant information and procedures.
• Any staff who have travelled internationally or have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 must remain isolated at home.
• More broadly, any staff that are feeling sick should not attend work.
• Workers must advise their employer if they develop symptoms during the isolation period, particularly if they have been in the workplace.

What do I do if a guest or visitor develops symptoms at my business?
• You should ask the guest or visitor to self-isolate and call the COVID-19 hotline - 1800 008 002.
• If they are required to undertake a COVID-19 test, this will be handled by the public health unit via the Northern Territory’s pandemic clinic, health clinic or hospital.
• People who meet the criteria for testing must call ahead on 8922 8044 where they will talk to a skilled clinician to determine if they should attend the pandemic clinic for testing.
• Guests or visitors must remain isolated either at home or in their accommodation venue until public health authorities inform them it is safe to return to usual activities.

Am I able to refuse guests/customers if they appear to be sick?
• You have the right to ask visitors, guests and customers to provide information in advance as to whether they have flu-like symptoms, have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or have travelled internationally in the last 14 days.

How should tourism operators manage cancellations?
• Check your current cancellation policy
• Ensure you’re clear about your refund strategy
• Provide advice for new bookings
• Ask guests/customers to check their insurance policy

For more advice for your business, go to securent.nt.gov.au

BUSINESS SUPPORT

What Australian Government support is available for businesses?
• The Australian Government has announced an economic response totalling $17.6 billion. This includes the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure, providing up to $25,000 back to business, with a minimum payment of $2,000 for eligible businesses.
• Find out more here.

What NT Government support is available for business?
• The Chief Minister has advised a second stimulus package will be announced this week.
• The Northern Territory Government has a range of programs that support local businesses, including those impacted by COVID-19. The Department of Trade, Business and Innovation’s Small Business Champions team are on the ground to meet with businesses and provide support as required. Contact the Small Business Champions team on 1800 193 111.
• The Business Enterprise Centre NT assists businesses in developing sound business strategies to meet their business needs. Practical business advice is provided for free and covers business planning, strategic market development, technology adoption and enhancement, financial management practices, human resource management and business health diagnostics. Contact the Business Enterprise Centre on 1800 229 500.

What tourism support is available for NT businesses?
• Partnering with the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation and the Business Enterprise Centre NT, Tourism NT has developed an intensive business support program for those tourism businesses that are suffering financial hardship due to immediate booking cancellations. This intensive business support program will be provided to relevant tourism businesses through pre-qualified consultants skilled in delivering this type of business support. Find out more here
• To learn more about the Northern Territory Immediate Tourism Resilience Plan please visit here.
• Contact us:
o Top End – Mark Crummy & Eliza Nolan
o Central Australia – Stuart Ord & Nicholas Ruch

For more information on support offered to businesses, go to securent.nt.gov.au

MASS GATHERINGS

Effective Monday 16 March 2020 the Australian Government has advised against all organised, non-essential gatherings above 500 people in an effort to contain and manage the spread of the virus.

There is a dedicated COVID-19 hotline for mass gatherings in the NT – 1800 518 055.

For more information on mass gatherings, go to securent.nt.gov.au

WHO CAN I CALL?

There is a dedicated COVID-19 hotline number for the NT - 1800 008 002.
There is a dedicated COVID-19 hotline for mass gatherings in the NT – 1800 518 055.
If you are in Darwin and need to arrange testing, please call the Public Health Unit on 8922 8044.

For the latest updates, go to securent.nt.gov.au

 

16 March 2020

Update from Tourism Australia

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 

AUSTRALIA

Australia quarantines all international arrivals and temporarily bans cruise ships

 From midnight 15 March, all passengers arriving in Australia will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days from their arrival. Cruise ships that have docked in international ports will be banned from docking in Australia for the next 30 days.

 Australia bans on non-essential static gatherings

 On the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the Prime Minister announced further social distancing measures. Social distancing includes ways to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. It means less contact between you and other people. From Monday 16 March, non-essential static gatherings of more than 500 people will be banned across all Australian States and Territories. All States and Territories have today passed legislation to implement the ban. Schools, universities, workplaces and public transport are not affected by the ban. Further arrangements are being developed by the AHPPC to protect the most vulnerable of Australia’s population, specifically: aged care and remote communities. Additional restrictions are expected to be decided when Cabinet reconvenes on Tuesday 17 March and announced the following day.

Government establishes Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit

The Australian Government yesterday announced the creation of a new Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit in Treasury to build on existing efforts to support confidence, employment and business continuity.  The role of the Unit will be to engage with peak business groups on systemic issues relating to Coronavirus to ensure these are being addressed by Government.  It will be staffed by experienced officials drawn from agencies across the Australian Public Service and will work closely with the private sector.  It will also be a source of information for business groups on the Australian Government’s response to Coronavirus and the actions that agencies are taking to support business at this difficult time.  This will allow for information to be disseminated quickly and effectively across the business community.  It will work closely with the Chief Medical Officer, the Department of Health and the National Coordination Mechanism in the Department of Home Affairs.  The Unit will be overseen by Dr Gordon de Brouwer, a highly respected and experienced former public servant having held senior roles across Treasury, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and as the Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Energy. 

The Unit has begun operating and works through peak business groups.   If you want to connect into this process, you should get in touch with your relevant industry association in the first instance.

Government launches national coronavirus campaign

 The Federal Government today launched a national campaign to inform all Australians about the coronavirus. The campaign aims to reduce the risk to individuals and families by enabling them to make informed decisions and to take up health recommendations. You can access the campaign materials here.

 Confirmed cases of coronavirus increasing

Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia are increasing and have reached 298, 134 of which are in NSW. 27 people are reported to have cleared their infections.

 

GLOBAL

 Europe now the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic

On Saturday, the Head of the World Health Organisation declared Europe the ‘epicentre’ of the coronavirus with more cases now reported in Europe each day than in China at its peak. More than 169,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed globally with more than half of these outside China.

 New Zealand imposes mandatory quarantine for international arrivals

From 1am Monday 16 March 2020 all travelers to New Zealand, (including New Zealand citizens or residents) must self-isolate for 14 days. The temporary measures, announced by Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern on Saturday, aimed at reducing New Zealand’s exposure to the coronavirus, do not apply to South Pacific nations. Cruise ships have also been advised that they will be refused entry to New Zealand ports. Speaking at a press conference on Saturday Prime Minister Ardern said that the measures will be reviewed in 15 days.

Trump declares US State of Emergency and extends Europe ban to the UK and Ireland

 On Saturday 14 March, US President Trump declared a national emergency allowing him to activate a national response to the coronavirus and access to USD40billion in disaster-relief funds to address the coronavirus.  In addition, the Europe travel ban was extended to arrivals from the UK and Ireland.  Americans in these countries will be able to come home but will be funneled through specific airports and processed.

 More countries close borders as coronavirus cases rise

The rapid spread of the virus through Europe and increasing death toll continues to have a dramatic impact on travel and freedom of movement globally. A number of governments have announced full or partial plans to close to their borders to foreigners, including the Czech Republic, Norway, Poland, Denmark, Austria, Turkey, Pakistan, Israel, Jordan, India, Cambodia and Hong Kong.

 Beijing mandates 14 day quarantine for all international arrivals

The Beijing municipal government has decreed that all travelers from outside the Chinese mainland, regardless of nationality, will have to stay in designated isolation centres for 14 days upon arriving in the city to prevent people spreading the disease to their families and within their communities.

 California closes restaurants, nightclubs and wineries

The Governor of California has directed the closure of all bars, wineries, nightclubs and brewpubs in the state and called for all seniors age 65 years or older to stay in home isolation to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The directive came on Sunday as it was announced that the virus had killed six people in California, with 335 cases confirmed – now the third largest number of cases in the nation, after Washington and New York.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) members voluntarily suspend travel

Worldwide, individual CLIA cruise lines yesterday announced temporary suspensions of cruise ship operations in response to the coronavirus. These have been enacted in addition to suspensions that apply in specific countries and regions.

 

13 March 2020

Update from Tourism Australia

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 

 AUSTRALIA 

 Prime Minister advises cancellation of mass gatherings and urges Australians not to travel overseas  

Following a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments in Sydney today, Commonwealth, State and Territory governments agreed to provide public advice against holding non-essential, organised public gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday 16th March 2020.   Essential services such as schools, workplaces, hospitals, public transportation, domestic travel and universities as well as public transient places such as shopping centres will not be impacted.  

In addition, travel advice (smartraveller.gov.au) for all Australians travelling overseas has been upgaded to level 3 - ‘reconsider your need for overseas travel at this time.’  Regardless of destination, age or health, Australians are now advised against non-essential overseas travel. 

These recommendations were agreed as a precautionary approach to slow the spread of the coronavirus based on the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee (AHPPC).  

We’re currently reviewing the implications this announcement has for our program of industry and trade events, including talking to relevant partners. This includes our forthcoming Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) event due to take place in Melbourne in May. We will provide a further update on this shortly and make sure all registered delegates are fully informed of future decisions. 

Read the new advice here

Government health experts advise against a Europe travel ban 

Following a request from the Prime Minister yesterday to review all travel from Europe, the Australian government's top health advisers have told the National Security Committee that they do not recommend putting a travel ban on Europe at this stage. 

Melbourne Grand Prix cancelled 

The event due to go ahead today (without spectators) was later cancelled by F1 bosses following the withdrawal of the McClaren Team, one of whose members tested positive for the coronavirus.   

GLOBAL 

 WHO stresses need to continue containment approach 

At the Member States information session held yesterday, the WHO Director-General reiterated that countries should not give up on stopping the outbreak now that WHO has characterized it as a pandemic, stating “A shift from containment to mitigation would be wrong and dangerous. This is a controllable pandemic”. For detailed information, please see here

Trump implements Europe travel ban 

The President of the United States yesterday announced a ban on foreign travellers from Europe to the USA for a period of 30 days.  

More countries implement coronavirus lockdowns 

France, Ireland and Denmark have this week closed childcare centres, schools and universities and imposed restrictions on large-scale gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Italy also remains in lockdown as numbers of the virus continue to grow. 

New York Governor closes Broadway 

Public gatherings of 500 people or more are banned in New York starting today following a directive from Governor Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo said the aim is to reduce population density to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  The ban effectively shuts down Broadway shows, and other large performance venues, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, which announced on its website that all performances are cancelled immediately, through March 31st. In addition, venues that seat fewer than 500 people must reduce their capacity by 50 per cent. 

 India suspends foreign visas 

The Indian government has moved to drastically limit the number of people it allows to enter the country, suspending visas for visitors from all other countries until at least 15 April in effort to limit its exposure to the coronavirus pandemic. Indians nationals have been advised against all non-essential overseas travel. 

 Cruise Lines voluntarily halt operations 

Princess Cruises and Viking Cruises have today announced suspension of their operations until at least 11 May and 30 April respectively in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

BUSHFIRES 

COAG leaders discuss next phase of the bushfire recovery effort 

COAG discussions today also centred on Australia’s bushfire recovery. The following actions were agreed: 

  • To implement a National Bushfire Recovery Plan spanning social, built, natural and economic recovery plans for the most-impacted regions;
  • Review and if necessary update how governments apply the Disaster Funding Arrangements;
  • To consider a report prepared by the CSIRO on climate and disaster resilience and review the investments that governments make in disaster resilience
  • To take immediate action across three streams of risk reduction work:
  • Improving the resilience of the national telecommunications network
  • Asking the Building Ministers’ Forum to consider how to adapt the built environment to future climate and hazard conditions; and
  • Asking the Australian Data and Digital Council, in consultation with the Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency Management to improve national hazard data and intelligence to enable the development of new information products such as a national fire map.

 Read the communique from the meeting is here

 

 

12 March 2020

Update from Tourism Australia

GLOBAL 

World Health Organisation (WHO) declares coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic 

On 11 March the WHO assessed that the coronavirus can be characterised as a pandemic.  

  • · WHO outlined that in the past two weeks, the number of cases of the coronavirus outside China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled. 
  • · In the days and weeks ahead, WHO expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher.
  • · WHO is deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

AUSTRALIA 

PM announces $17.6 billion coronavirus stimulus package - $1 billion for tourism 

The Prime Minister has unveiled plans for a $17.6 billion stimulus package to aid Australia’s economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus, $1 billion of which has been set aside to support those regions and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus, including those heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture and education. This will include: 

  • · the waiver of fees and charges for tourism businesses that operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the waiver of entry fees for Commonwealth National Parks;
  • · additional assistance to help businesses identify alternative export markets or supply chains; and
  • · targeted measures to further promote domestic tourism.  

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is also providing administrative relief for some tax obligations for people affected by the Coronavirus outbreak, on a case-by-case basis. The ATO will set up a temporary shop front in Cairns within the next few weeks with dedicated staff specialising in assisting small business. In addition, it will consider ways to enhance its presence in other significantly affected regions, making it easier for people to apply for relief. The ATO is considering further temporary shop fronts and face-to-face options. 

$2.4 billion of the total package has been earmarked to deal with the health impacts of the coronavirus outbreak including creating a new Medicare item for telehealth services so people can be treated at home. There will also be 100 fever clinics set up around Australia to test those who think they may be sick. 

Government to launch $30million coronavirus public health campaign 

A $30 million public health advertising campaign aimed at the coronavirus will reportedly soon be launched in Australia. 

According to media reports, the Federal Government is finalising the campaign which will outline how to limit the spread of the virus through hygiene measures, what to do if symptoms develop and where to seek help. 

Australia extends travel bans to Italy 

In response to the increasing spread of the coronavirus in Italy, the Australian Government yesterday announced a ban on foreign nationals (with the exception of permanent residents, citizens and their immediate families) who have traveled from or transited through Italy on or after 11 March 2020. 

  • · Foreign nationals who leave Italy (excluding permanent residents) at or after 11 March, will not be allowed to enter Australia until 14 days after they have left or transited through Italy.
  • · Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family will still be able to enter Australia but will be required to self-isolate for 14 days after the date they left Italy

Australia’s current temporary border restrictions to and from Italy, China, Iran and the Republic of Korea have been extended for another week and are due to be reviewed by 21 March. 

BUSHFIRES 

Red tape cut, access easier for bushfire affected small businesses 

The Federal Government announced yesterday a new $10,000 grant and simplified access to existing loans and other services for small businesses impacted by recent bushfires. The newly launched, Bushfire Affected Small Business Rebuild Package’ will ensure small businesses devastated by the recent bushfires receive immediate support tailored to their individual circumstances. The package announced today offers new initiatives to help local economies recover faster and simplifies access to current assistance programs by cutting red tape.

It includes: 

  • · a new $10,000 grant to assist significantly impacted small businesses in selected Local Government Areas (LGAs) get back on their feet and maintain their businesses. To be eligible, businesses must have experienced a 40 per cent drop in revenue over a three-month period, compared to the previous year, as a result of the bushfires;
  • · greater access to concessional loans with fewer documents and fewer security requirements; and
  • · more experienced and trusted business advisers available on the ground working directly with small business owners to help them navigate the challenging road to recovery.

The updated package is being funded by the Commonwealth Government under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. 

Further details are available on the National Bushfire Recovery Agency website  

 

6 March 2020

Update from Tourism Australia

New travel restrictions, updated advice and screening to safeguard Australia from the coronavirus 

Following a meeting of the National Security Committee of Cabinet yesterday (5 March 2020), the Prime Minister announced the introduction of new travel restrictions, updated travel advice and the implementation of new screening measures as part of the Government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the changing situation internationally.  The measures are part of Australia’s ongoing strategy of containment and minimising risk to the Australian community as detailed in its Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Coronavirus activated last week.  A transcript of the Prime Minister’s press conference explaining the rationale behind the Committee’s decisions can be read here

Advice to tourism operators

Please view this information sheet in relation to the new measures from Australia's Chief Medical Officer.

WHO- no declaration of pandemic – but raised global risk assessment

While the World Health Organisation (WHO) is yet to declare the coronavirus a global pandemic it has raised its global risk assessment to ‘very high’ while stressing the need for countries to act to contain the virus. Speaking at a press conference yesterday, the WHO Director-General stated “This epidemic can be pushed back, but only with a collective, coordinated and comprehensive approach that engages the entire machinery of government. We are calling on every country to act with speed, scale and clear-minded determination.” 

Temporary border restrictions for travellers from China and Iran extended  

The Government has extended temporary border restrictions for travellers from China and Iran. These restrictions will be reviewed again by 13 March 2020. 

Temporary border restrictions for travellers from the Republic of Korea  

Yesterday border restrictions for travellers from Korea were increased to the same level as travellers from China and Iran. In particular: 

  • Foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents of Australia) who are in the Republic of Korea will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through the country.
  • Australian citizens will still be able to enter Australia (as will their immediate family members (spouses, legal guardians or dependents only). They will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the date they left the Republic of Korea.

Increased travel advisories for travel to Korea 

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has raised its travel advisory for the Republic of Korea to ‘reconsider your need to travel’ (level 3 of 4) up from ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ (level 2).  The travel advice to the Korean city of Daegu has also been raised to the highest level – ‘do not travel’ due to the significant outbreak of COVID-19 there. 

Additional inbound screening procedures for travellers from Italy 

For arrivals from Italy to Australia, enhanced health screening and temperature testing arrangements are now in place.  Travellers arriving in Australia from Italy, must present for health screening at the border. They are not required to self-isolate unless they are a healthcare or residential aged care worker, in which case they must not attend work for 14 days. 

Coronavirus cases globally and in Australia 

There have been approximately 98,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus (approximately 80,000 of which are in China) and over 3,300 deaths. Close to 54,000 people have recovered from the virus. Australia has reported 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 22 patients having made a full recovery.  

In recent days, Australia has recorded its first cases of local transmission of COVID-19 and sadly the death of one person associated with the Diamond Princess cruise ship repatriation flight from Japan to the Northern Territory  as well as an elderly person in an aged care facility. 

Stay informed 

As the coronavirus situation continues to evolve we encourage you to stay up-to-date with the latest information from the relevant authorities.  

More information including FAQs about coronavirus can be found on the Department of Health’s website or Australia.com and travel advisories on DFAT’s Smart Traveller site.  

 

 

5 March 2020

Advice from the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy

Dear tourism industry operators

Following previous correspondence, I am writing to provide further advice regarding the coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19).

With more cases emerging in the Republic of Korea and Italy, the Australian Government has extended travel restrictions to people coming from the Republic of Korea, and put in place new checks for people arriving from Italy.

The Government is putting in place a travel ban in relation to the Republic of Korea. The considerable scale of travel from the Republic of Korea, and the number of COVID-19 cases emerging in that country, presents a high risk of transmission here in Australia.

Specifically, as of 5 March 2020:

  • Foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents of Australia) who are in the Republic of Korea on or after 5 March, will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through the Republic of Korea.
  • Australian citizens and permanent residents will still be able to enter Australia, as will their immediate family members (spouses, legal guardians or dependents only). They will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the day they left the Republic of Korea.
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will raise the level of the travel advisory for the Republic of Korea to ‘reconsider your need to travel’ (level 3 of 4) up from ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ (level 2).
  • The level of the travel advice will also be raised to ‘do not travel’ to Daegu (level 4 of 4) because of the significant outbreak of COVID-19 there. People in the Republic of Korea should monitor their health closely and follow the advice of local authorities.

The scale of travel from Italy is much smaller. We are therefore implementing enhanced health screening and temperature testing arrangements to deal with travellers coming from this country. Travel bans in relation to mainland China and Iran will continue, meaning that bans for China, Iran and South Korea will be the same.

These measures are about slowing the transmission of COVID-19 cases into Australia. Outside of Iran, the two other highest risk countries are the Republic of Korea and Italy.

I reiterate that any return traveller from any part of the world, where there's a COVID-19 outbreak, who develops symptoms, should isolate and seek medical attention. We will continue to watch developments.

These changes have not been made lightly and we are very focused on ensuring our advice is proportionate. Our highest priority remains the wellbeing and safety of Australians.

Yours sincerely
Professor Brendan Murphy
Chief Medical Officer

 

 

 

4 March 2020

Update from Tourism Australia

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, with almost 93,000 confirmed cases and over 3,100 deaths now reported in 77 countries worldwide.

Chinese carriers restore limited capacity

Air China has advised that they will resume limited (2xweek) flights from Beijing to Sydney and Melbourne and China Southern has reinstated capacity beyond June to Australia on booking platforms.

Australia’s first coronavirus death

Tragically, the coronavirus claimed the life of its first Australian victim on Sunday, 78-year-old James Kwan, after arriving in Western Australia from the contaminated Diamond Princess cruise ship. He was one of 164 Australians being held in isolation in Japan and had arrived in back home last Friday, on board a Royal Flying Doctor Service flight. James was well known to our industry and well loved, having founded one of Perth’s first inbound tour companies, Wel-Travel, in 1988, before handing it on in recent years to his son Edwin.

Despite this very sad development, Australia still has a relatively small number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus and most have had a link to China, Iran or the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Most cases have already recovered or are recovering in isolation.  

No pandemic declared at this stage

At this stage, a pandemic has still not been declared but, as previously advised, the Australian Government has already started preparing for such an occurrence.

Emergency Response Plan for coronavirus activated

Australian Government’s Emergency Response Plan has now been activated, focused on strengthening and boosting Australia’s already world-class health care systems. Tourism Australia is working closely with the Department of Health, Austrade, and the Department of Foreign Affairs to ensure a coordinated response to the coronavirus. The Australian Government’s entry restrictions on foreign nationals who have recently been in mainland China remain in place and continue to be reviewed on a weekly basis.

Global cases exceed 90,000

As at 4 March 2020 over 91,868 cases of COVID-19 have been reported globally, including 3,131  deaths. The majority of cases (80,174) have been reported from mainland China , with more than 8,000 cases reported from 76 countries and regions outside of mainland China.

41 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia

There have now been a total of 41 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia, including the one death reported on Sunday. Of the initial 15 cases all have had an indirect or direct link with Wuhan, China and all have subsequently cleared their infections. A further 10 cases are associated with the Diamond Princess repatriation flight from Japan to the Northern Territory. 10 cases have a direct or indirect travel link to Iran. Four cases are reported to have a recent history of overseas travel to countries including Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea and Japan. Three cases have been reported in people with no recent history of overseas travel. The likely source of infection for these patients is under investigation.

Travel Advice for Australians

DFAT continues to adjust travel advice as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread globally. Last week we saw the level of travel advice raised for parts of Italy as well as Mongolia and Iran. On Sunday (1 March 2020), the current travel advisory for Iran was further extended, with a travel ban now imposed on foreigners coming to Australia from Iran. As with China, foreign nationals coming from Iran will be forced to spend a fortnight in a third country before being allowed into Australia. Australian citizens and permanent residents will need to isolate themselves for a fortnight after returning from Iran. For up-to-date travel advice, visit the DFAT Smart Traveller website.

Travel Restrictions into Australia

Further travel restrictions into Australia are not being recommended at this stage. To find out more information, refer to the statement issued by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee on 29th February.

Quarantine requirements remain in force

Strict quarantine requirements continue to apply to any travellers (including returning students) who have been in mainland China or been in close contact with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19. That is, self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of departure from mainland China or from the date of last contact with a confirmed case.

Updates to follow

Given then unpredictable and fast-moving nature of this issue, we will continue to provide updates, and we will continue to monitor the ongoing situation very closely, following the health advice provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Australia’s Department of Health.

 

 

29 February 2020

Update from Tourism Australia

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread in a growing number of countries across several continents. We are continuing to monitor the situation very closely, following the health advice provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Australia’s Department of Health. Overnight, ITB has been cancelled.

No pandemic declared at this stage
Over the last few days there has been a lot of speculation about whether the current coronavirus outbreak will be declared a pandemic, and the implications such a move might have for Australia and, specifically, for our industry. At this stage, a pandemic has not been declared. However, the Australian Government is of course heightening its level of preparedness for such an occurrence.

Emergency Response Plan for Coronavirus activated
On Thursday (27 February 2020), the Prime Minister announced the activation of the ‘Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)’. The Australian Government also announced it would extend for a further week (to 7 March 2020) the entry restrictions on foreign nationals who have recently been in mainland China. As at 29 February 2020, a total of 84,117 cases of COVID-19 have been reported globally, including 2,872 deaths. The majority of cases have been reported from mainland China (78,824), with 5,923 cases reported from 55 countries and regions outside of mainland China.

Travel Advice for Australians
Due to a heightened risk of sustained local transmission, DFAT has also raised the level of travel advice for parts of Italy as well as Mongolia and Iran. For up-to-date travel advice, visit the DFAT Smart Traveller website.

Travel Restrictions into Australia
Further travel restrictions into Australia are not being recommended at this stage. To find out more information, refer to the statement issued by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee on 27th February.

Quarantine requirements remain in force
Strict quarantine requirements continue to apply to any travellers (including returning students) who have been in mainland China or been in close contact with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19. That is, self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of departure from mainland China or from the date of last contact with a confirmed case.

ITB Berlin Cancelled
Tourism Australia has been advised ITB Berlin 2020 has been cancelled. The organisers Messe Berlin have made the decision due to the increasing spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19 ) following advice from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health and Federal Ministry of Economics. Further information can be found on the ITB Berlin website here. The current travel advice for Germany is ‘exercise normal safety precautions’ (current at 0600 29 February AEDT). Further details regarding stand partner participation fees will be communicated as soon as possible.

Other travel events
More broadly, we carry out full risk assessments for all our own events as well as those that we routinely attend overseas. Additionally, we seek guidance from relevant health authorities and travel advisories. If any country or event is not deemed safe for attendees, we will not attend. We will continue to monitor other events daily but no other cancellations are planned at this stage.

Updates to follow
Obviously, this is an unpredictable and fast-moving issue. We will continue to take our lead the World Health Organisation and Australia’s Department of Health, and keep you informed as new information comes to hand, or advice is updated.

Please find attached some FAQs on the coronavirus, and you can find specific travel industry factsheet from the Department of Health here.

 

 

27 February 2020

Reminding the world There’s Still Nothing Like Australia

The first phase of a new international campaign rolls out from Monday as we lean heavily into our long-standing and successful global campaign platform, ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ (TNLA), by reminding the world that ‘There’s Still Nothing Like Australia’. Since its launch in 2010, Tourism Australia has invested more than $1 billion in TNLA - with international tourism arrivals and spend growing 72% (or an additional 3,936,500 visitors) and 73% (or an additional $19.1 billion) over this period.

Background and rationale – a hard working, tactical, partner-led campaign

This initial phase is hardworking and tactical, deliberately focusing on conversion, and we will follow this up later in the year with a second broader brand campaign. Our number one priority at the moment is to get back into market quickly, re-stimulate demand and drive bookings - with strong, conversion-led activities that can be a step towards filling the vacuum of lost booking caused by the bushfires and coronavirus.

We are harnessing our strongest commercial partnerships and focusing on those key markets where marketing activities can be scaled up and where we feel demand can be re-stimulated quickly. We can’t expect people to book without showing them that Australia is still open for business; and still a safe and welcoming destination. That’s why we plan to double down on a global marketing platform that has a proven record over the last 10 years of driving record-number of international travellers to Australia.

Three Initial stages

The three initial stages of this first phase will be:

  • Partnership-led activity

Strong, partner-led activity starting w/c 24 Feb across our key markets. This initial burst will involve working with well-established airline partners including Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Garuda and Malaysian Airlines; and distribution partners including Trailfinders, Flight Centre, Expedia and Chan Brothers.

  • Utilising ITB 

Utilise the world’s largest travel show ITB in Berlin (4-9 March), as a valuable platform for wide engagement with travel trade, consumers and media from our key markets of Germany, Italy and France as well as our other markets. 

  • New campaign ad to be unveiled at Destination Australia

We are currently filming and we expect to unveil our campaign film at Destination Australia Conference in Adelaide on 12 March. This will be used across most of our international markets.

 

19 February 2020

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-2019) – AUSTRALIA

Australia’s temporary coronavirus border restrictions to be reviewed this week
As you will no doubt have seen, the Prime Minister announced last Thursday that temporary border restrictions introduced to curb the spread of the coronavirus would be extended for another 7 days. The restrictions are due to be reviewed on 21 February 2020.

The following arrangements remain in place:
• Australia will deny entry to anyone who has left or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days, with the exception of Australian citizens, permanent residents, and immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents including spouses, minor dependants and legal guardians.
• Australian citizens who have left or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of leaving mainland China.
• People who have had close contact with a proven case of novel coronavirus must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of last contact.

Border restrictions extended to passengers on the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship
Australia’s current coronavirus border restrictions have been extended to passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship which has been quarantined in Japan. Australians on the ship have been offered a voluntary assisted departure flight today. Returning Australians who elect to take the flight will be required to undertake a further 14 day quarantine period at the Howard Springs facility in Darwin. Any other travellers who disembark the Diamond Princess will need to adhere to a 14 day quarantine period prior to travelling to, or transiting Australia.

The following advice is for travellers not on the charter flight:
• If you have disembarked the Diamond Princess you will need to complete a 14 day quarantine period before travelling to Australia.
• If you arrive in Australia and you have not completed the 14 day quarantine requirement since disembarking the Diamond Princess you will be subject to health screening on entry.
• You may be subject to a Human Biosecurity Control Order under the Biosecurity Act 2015 which can include conditions restricting your movement or requiring your isolation.
• Travellers should ensure they complete the 14 day quarantine period to protect the health and wellbeing of Australians, other passengers and airline crew.

More information: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/current-alerts/novel-coronavirus

Updated government fact sheets for hotel management and staff and hotel guests
See the latest health advice and details on what actions to take (and download and distribute) here.

CORONAVIRUS - GLOBAL

The vast majority of confirmed cases of coronavirus are still in China
Over 73,000 cases of the coronavirus (now referred to as ‘COVID-19’) have been confirmed globally. The majority of these (more than 72,000) are in China. Similarly, while there have been 1,875 deaths reported globally, only five of these have occurred outside China (in Taiwan, France, Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines). Over 13,000 patients have recovered, including 8 of the 15 Australians confirmed to have the virus.

WHO has published key considerations for the repatriation and quarantine of travellers in relation to COVID-19
The document, published on 12 February includes measures to adopt pre-embarkation, on-board aircraft and upon arrival at the point of entry as well guidance for health care workers and other support staff. More information can be found here.

 

 

 

12 February 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Global  

Global death toll from coronavirus surpasses SARS deaths

There are now over 44,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus across 25 countries. While the death toll now stands at over 1000 people (exceeding the 774 deaths from the SARS epidemic in 2003), almost 5000 people have recovered from the virus. The number of countries reporting confirmed cases of the virus outside of China remains at 25. For more information visit this heat map.

 

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) adopts further screening measures

On 7 February, CLIA ocean-going member cruise lines agreed to adopt further enhanced screening measures intended to address the industry’s exposure to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. As follows:

  • CLIA Members are to deny boarding to all persons who have traveled from, visited or transited via airports in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, within 14 days before embarkation. 
  • CLIA Members are to deny boarding to all persons who, within 14 days before embarkation, have had close contact with, or helped care for, anyone suspected or diagnosed as having Coronavirus, or who is currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure to Novel Coronavirus.  
  • CLIA Members are to conduct preboarding screening necessary to effect these prevention measures. Enhanced screening and initial medical support are to be provided, as needed, to any persons exhibiting symptoms of suspected coronavirus.

Still no WHO recommendation to restrict international travel

The WHO continues to advise against any restrictions on international travel or trade.

China

 

More than 44,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in China

The death toll from the virus in mainland China has jumped to over 1000. The infection rate is reported at 2% of cases.

Australia

 

No change to number of confirmed cases in Australia

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Australia remains at 15: five cases in Queensland, two in South Australia, four in Victoria and four in New South Wales. An additional 11 Australians on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama have tested positive to the virus and two more are under investigation.

 

Australian coronavirus travel restrictions to be reviewed by 15 February

The Government has committed to a review of the restrictions by 15 February 2020.

BUSHFIRES

$10m grants program launched to assist bushfire affected regions

On 11 February the Government announced the Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Grants program (RTBR), a $10 million program drawn from the National Bushfire Recovery Fund.  The program forms part of the Federal Government’s $76 million tourism recovery package to help to protect jobs, small businesses and local economies by helping get tourists travelling to bushfire affected regions. It will have two funding streams which will support events, concerts, festivals and visitor attractions in fire affected regions to assist with recovery efforts and encourage international and domestic visitors to come back to the regions. The second stream will be targeted at the worst affected tourism regions. Austrade will administer the program, which has been developed in consultation with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency. To ensure communities can get access to funds quickly, the first stage of the grants program will focus on grants of up to $30,000, and events up to April 2020 with a streamlined application and assessment process facilitating decisions. Applications will be accepted from Monday 17 February 2020. For further information visit: https://www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Tourism/Tourism-and-business/Grants/regional-tourism-bushfire-recovery-grants

Tourism Australia collaborating with states and territories on recovery campaigns

We are currently finalising agreements that will see the Federal Government provide state and territory tourism organisations with a significant funding boost to support their marketing efforts to encourage Australians to holiday at home and support the bushfire and coronavirus recovery. TA is providing some funds as part of a dollar for dollar agreement. A number of campaigns have launched or are planned including: