10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

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Hello! Hope you’re all keeping well, despite the state of the world.

1. The World Health Organisation has said social distancing measures currently being implemented across the globe are useful only in “buying time”, and that they must be tied with widespread testing to be effective. “On their own, these measures will not extinguish epidemics,” said WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Tedros said countries need to “ramp up the production, capacity and availability of testing.”

2. Following the increased restrictions announced earlier this week, police in Australia are announcing how they intend to enforce them. For example, cops in NSW will hand out $1000 fines on the spot to people who flout lockdown rules, including for holding house parties or having more than 10 mourners at a funeral.

3. On the restrictions: it was just announced this morning that the 30-minute limit for haircuts has been lifted. There had been some confusion as to logistics there. Instead, the statement from Scott Morrison says that the one person per four square metre rule must be “strictly observed” instead. Again, I think that may also present issues. But whatever.

4. Perhaps as expected, we seem to be seeing Airbnbs and similar short-term accommodation flooding back in the general rental market in Australia’s cities.. Expect this to continue as the tourism market dries up entirely. “It’s definitely something we’re seeing happen right now. I’ve just listed five Airbnbs for rent,” Jacob Caine, CEO of Caine Real Estate in Melbourne, told Business Insider Australia.

5. As we all wait with bated breath to see what the government’s inevitable next coronavirus stimulus effort will be, the ACTU is calling for a wage subsidy of up to 80%. In practice, that would mean the government would front up to 80% of an employee’s salary if their employer promises to keep them on the payroll throughout the outbreak.

6. Woolworths will cut opening hours at select stores so staff can better meet surging demand for delivery. The 41 affected stores, which will now open 11am to 6pm, will become ‘Priority Delivery Hubs’, which will “help support getting basic food and essentials to those that need it most”. You can see if your local is affected here.

7. Spain recorded more than 730 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, meaning it has now surpassed the death toll in China. China has nearly double the number of infections as Spain, but a similar death toll. Spanish public services are struggling to contain the virus from spreading. Private hospitals have been nationalised and ice rinks and conference centres transformed into morgues and hospitals.

8. In the UK, authorities have warned citizens the country-wide lockdown could last six months. It’s a similar timeframe to the one touted by the Australian government – but the UK lockdown is, at least for the moment, more draconian. Over there, people are only allowed to leave their homes to do essential work, exercise or buy food or medicine.

9. Something to underline the seriousness of the situation – especially for the younger among us who assume they’re invincible based on the stats. The family of a 21-year-old woman who died of COVID-19 in the UK say she did not have any pre-existing conditions. “To all the people out there that thinks it’s just a virus please think again,” Diane Middleton wrote on Facebook. “Speaking from a personal experience this so called virus has taken the life of my 21 year old daughter.”

10. Prince Charles has tested positive for COVID-19. The 71-year-old heir to the throne is “displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health,” a Clarence House representative said in a statement. The statement went on to say that the Prince of Wales has been “working from home”, though I honestly cannot imagine what that would entail. Is he on Slack?

BONUS ITEM

The Age is reporting this morning that a rich Melbourne couple contracted COVID-19 while on a ski holiday in Aspen have spent the period of their ‘isolation’ being subject to numerous police complaints as they completely ignore quarantine requirements and spend their time at the shops and the golf course down on the Mornington Peninsula. Must be nice!

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