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Coronavirus: What we know today, March 26

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Follow this post for rolling updates on the impact of the coronavirus in South Australia, the nation and the world, as well as the latest health information and links to official advice. Today, SA infections rise to 235, Steven Marshall announces details of his latest job support package, and more.

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Refresh this page for updates – scroll down for links to official health information.

Marshall reveals details of jobs package

Payroll and land tax relief are at the centre of the State Government’s $650 million package to support local jobs, announced this afternoon.

Premier Steven Marshall said the package would waive payroll tax for some businesses – and defer it for others – while land tax measures will also be tweaked, with some individuals and businesses able to defer payments for six months.

Liquor licencing fees will be waived for hotels, restaurants, cafes and clubs forced to close as a result of social distancing measures.

Two new funds will be created – a $300 million business and jobs support fund to support businesses and industry sectors, and a $250 million community and jobs fund to support community organisations, sports, art, recreational and non-profit organisations.

Under the package announced today, a public servant who has a family member who has lost their job and moved onto Commonwealth benefits will be able to receive their accrued leave down to a limit of two retained weeks.

Read more here.

More details below:

Advisory body appointed

Premier Steven Marshall today announced the formation of a body to advise him on the industry impacts of the COVID-19  crisis and the state’s recover.

As well as Marshall, the Industry Response and Recovery Council members are:

Schools go ‘pupil-free’ before Easter

South Australian public schools will have four pupil-free days ahead of the upcoming holiday period.

Education Minister John Gardner said today that Monday April 6 to Thursday April 9 would be pupil-free days to “assist the state’s educators to plan and prepare to transition to flexible learning, ready for Term 2″.

“With the increasing number of children absent from our schools, our teachers need this time to prepare for the difficult challenge of meeting the needs of learners who are at home,” he said.

“For those parents and carers who are able to keep their children at home, well supervised and in an environment of learning, we support this.

“We are providing support for those families through the Our Learning SA website – a key resource for families and educators across the state to assist in transitioning to remote learning. This resource will be built upon every day.”

Schools would remain “available” to support children of parents who can’t work from home, or vulnerable children who need to be at school.

SA cases rise to 235

South Australian cases of COVID-19 have increased to 235, with 38 new cases reported by SA Health on Thursday afternoon.

Chief public health officer Dr Nicola Spurrier revealed a third South Australian man, aged 50, was being treated for the virus in intensive care. She said all three men were in a stable condition.

Spurrier said the new cases included 19 passengers from the Ruby Princess cruise ship, bringing the total number of South Australians cases from cruise ships to 60.

She said the majority of cases had travelled overseas with a small number from interstate.

The new cases range in age from 10 to 70 years.

Spurrier announced a new hotline had been created to provide information for people with infectious symptoms or in self-isolation. South Australians can call 1800 253 787 between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week.

What’s happening in Australia

Death toll rises

Two more Australians have died from coronavirus, taking the nation’s death toll to 11.

The two deaths are Victorian men in their 70s, the state’s chief health officer confirmed on Thursday.

Morrison adjusts isolation rules

The 30-minute restriction on haircuts has been lifted as the Federal Government tinkers with measures to slow the spread of coronavirus.

But the prime minister says the four square metre rule per person must be strictly followed by hairdressers and barbers, and personal contact during appointments must be minimised.

States and territories can also provide exemptions to the 10-person limit for funerals in cases of hardship, Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

Thousands stranded on cruise ships

More than 3000 Australians are marooned on cruise ships across the globe as countries shut their borders to slow the outbreak of coronavirus.

The stranded Australians are scattered across more than 30 vessels in waters off South America, Europe, the United States and further afield.

“We want to make sure that those Australians are able to return,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne told the Nine Network on Thursday.

Tasmania orders all visitors to leave

The Tasmanian government has ordered all visitors staying in hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites and boarding houses to leave by midnight Sunday.

“I’m sorry to say that, but go home,” Premier Peter Gutwein told reporters on Thursday.

“Unfortunately there will be some dislocation for people but I make no apologies for working hard to keep Tasmanians safe.”

Gutwein also implored non-essential visitors to stay away, noting a mandatory 14-day quarantine period on arrival for anyone not considered essential

Flight Centre stands down 3800

Flight Centre will stand down 3800 Australian staff in sales and support roles due to travel bans and coronavirus disruption.

The company said it will initially retain up to 70 per cent of its 20,000 global workforce but will, however, assess further reductions as the pandemic evolves.

“These never-before-seen restrictions, which have forced airlines to ground their fleets and heavily reduce their flight schedules, have virtually halted travel demand and led to the stoppage of the vast proportion of work that Flight Centre’s people previously carried out,” The company told the ASX.

Travel firm Helloworld also said it will stand down another 1300 workers across its global network, and sacking 275.

Virgin Australia said today more than 1,000 workers will likely be made redundant from the 8,000 it has asked to stand down from their jobs, while Qantas is standing down an estimated 20,000 staff.

Westpac forecasts there will be over 814,000 job losses leading to an 11 per cent unemployment rate by June as a result of coronavirus disruptions.

Energy firms promise not to cut power as customers struggle

Australians unable to pay their energy bills because of coronavirus won’t have their power cut as the sector promises to help those struggling.

Customers won’t have to pay late fees, will be encouraged onto hardship payment schemes, and debt collection and bankruptcy proceedings will be put on hold.

“Impacted customers receiving hardship assistance will not be disconnected if they are unable to afford their energy bills,” the Australian Energy Council said on Thursday.

The council comprises 23 major energy companies which provide power to more than 10 million homes and businesses.

It urges customers worried about paying their bills to get in touch with providers, with options available such as payment extensions, bill management plans and help getting grants.

Retailer shuts stores, refuses to pay rent

The owner of stores including Smiggle, Peter Alexander, Portmans and Just Jeans says he won’t pay rent to landlords during a virus-prompted stores shutdown.

Billionaire retailer Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments on Thursday announced all its retail outlets will close and all Australian employees will be be stood down without pay.

Premier said 9,000 people globally will be stood down after it took similar measures in New Zealand, the UK and Ireland.

Additionally, Premier intends not to pay any rent globally for the duration of the shutdown.

Lew has long railed against the the level of rent charged by landlords and just last week threatened to close more stores if they refused to play ball during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Prince Charles tests positive for virus

Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus but is in good health and is now self isolating in Scotland with mild symptoms.

The 71-year-old, eldest son of Queen Elizabeth, is displaying what Clarence House said were mild symptoms but remains in good health and has been working from his Birkhall residence in Scotland. His wife, Camilla, 72, tested negative.

“The Prince of Wales has tested positive for coronavirus,” Clarence House said.

“He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.”

“The Duchess of Cornwall has also been tested but does not have the virus,” Clarence House said.

Queen Elizabeth who is currently at Windsor Castle is in good health, Buckingham Palace said.

A royal source said the Prince of Wales, who was tested on Monday and got the results on Tuesday, was advised the condition was unlikely to escalate into a more serious case.

In brief: what’s happening around the world

OFFICIAL SOURCES OF ADVICE AND INFORMATION

Local updates and resources

SA Health: www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/COVID2019

National advice and information

Australian Government Coronavirus information hotline: 1800 020 080

Travel

Australian Government travel advice: smartraveller.gov.au

Check your symptoms

Free, government-funded, health advice: healthdirect.gov.au

– Reporting by InDaily staff, AAP and Reuters

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