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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have announced an extra $66 billion support package to help businesses impacted by the coronavirus.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have announced an extra $66 billion support package to help businesses impacted by the coronavirus.

Federal government announces more support for small businesses

As part of its new $66 billion stimulus package, the Australian government has announced a raft of measures to help small business owners weather the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Small businesses – defined as those with annual revenue below $50 million – will receive a tax-free, cash payment of $20,000–$100,000 from late April, to be delivered by the Tax Office.

The Commonwealth will also guarantee unsecured business loans of up to $250,000 for a term of up to three years.

Scott Morrison, Prime Minister
Scott Morrison, Prime Minister
"We want to help businesses keep going as best they can and for as long as they can"
Scott Morrison, Prime Minister

Prime Minister Scott said, “We want to help businesses keep going as best they can and for as long as they can, or to pause instead of winding up their business. We want to ensure that when this crisis has passed Australian businesses can bounce back.”

“Our focus is on cushioning the blow and providing hope to every Australian that we will get through this and come out the other side together.”

Additionally, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed new support for workers who have been made redundant, unemployed, or had their hours reduced by at least 20 per cent since 1 January.

From mid-April, these workers will be entitled to withdraw up to $10,000 of their superannuation until 1 July 2020, and another $10,000 until 1 October 2020. No tax will apply to the withdrawals and they will not impact Centrelink or veterans’ payments.

Australians can currently access their superannuation early on financial hardship, medical, incapacity or compassionate grounds.

Income support payments will also be supplemented by $550 per fortnight. Eligible recipients include those receiving or applying for the JobSeeker Payment (previously known as Newstart), Youth Allowance, and Parenting Payment.

Frydenberg said, “The government is taking unprecedented action to strengthen the safety net available to Australians that are stood down or lose their jobs and increasing support for small businesses that do it tough over the next six months… These extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures.”

Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer
Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer
"These extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures"
Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer

The government’s total proposed stimulus spending stands at $189 billion, nearly 10 per cent of GDP.

The measures are expected to be passed by Parliament this week.

Limits to interstate travel

In response to the growing coronavirus pandemic, the West Australian government will close the state's borders from 1.30pm (AWST) on Tuesday 24 March.

Travellers planning to enter Western Australia after this time will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, though exceptions may be made for ‘essential’ travel. At the time of publication, the state had recorded 120 cases of coronavirus – known as COVID-19 – and one death.

South Australia has also announced changes to its border policy, opening 12 crossing points at which travellers will be required to sign a declaration of health and agree to mandatory two-week isolation.

The measure will come into effect at 4pm on 24 March. South Australia has recorded 100 COVID-19 cases, with no deaths.

The Northern Territory will also close its borders from 4pm Tuesday 24 March, with police likely to monitor major highways and other points of entry. Mandatory self-isolation for two weeks is required for all attempting to enter the territory, and fines of more than $60,000 may be issued to those breaching the border policy.

All five of the Northern Territory’s confirmed coronavirus cases contracted the illness overseas or interstate.

Tasmania closed its borders on 19 March, while the Queensland State Government will close its borders from midnight on Wednesday 25 March.

At the time of publication, other states and territories had indicated their borders would remain open, though the Prime Minister has advised all non-essential domestic travel plans to be cancelled.

Meanwhile, NSW and Victoria are proceeding with a shut-down of all non-essential businesses and services. Victoria will also bring forward school holidays to 24 March. A decision on whether to reopen schools for Term 2 will be made in the coming weeks, based on the chief health officer’s advice.

The Australian Retailers Association has established a resource page for retailers about the coronavirus. At the time of publication, the Jewellers Association of Australia had not addressed the pandemic on its website or social media channels.

 

More reading:
Coronavirus Survival Guide for Jewellers
Making jewellery sales through a pandemic: quarantine, consumers, and your business











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