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Adam Marshall’s complete COVID-19 update as at Friday, June 26

As the Northern Tablelands electorate continues its COVID-19 free run, I think the increase in cases in Victoria is a timely reminder that we can’t get complacent when it comes to preventing the spread of this illness.
From next Wednesday, 1 July NSW will move ahead with the considerable easing of restrictions for social gatherings.
The changes coming into effect include the recommencement of junior and adult community sport, with strict social distancing guidelines.
The number of people allowed inside indoor venues that can open will be determined by the one person per 4 square metre rule, with no upper limit. All activity must be seated only.
And Cultural and sporting events at outdoor venues with a maximum capacity of 40,000 will be allowed up to 25 per cent of their normal capacity.
To avoid our own coronavirus flare-up during this time it falls on all of us to follow the below advice from our medical experts:

  • follow the rules about gatherings, self-isolation and quarantine
  • maintain a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others
  • practise good hand hygiene
  • stay active and healthy
  • take extra care if you’re around vulnerable people
  • get tested if you have any symptoms, even if they are only mild
  • follow NSW Health advice about staying home while you are waiting for test results.

 With winter well underway people should not disregard their flu like symptoms as the common cold, but should immediately be screened for COVID-19.      
The list of potential symptoms the virus presents continues to grow and now includes fever, cough, sore or scratchy throat, shortness of breath the loss of smell and taste, runny nose, muscle and joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting and loss of appetite.


If you or anyone of your family or friends are exhibiting these symptoms they must contact their GP of local hospital for testing.
Finally, the NSW Government’s COVID-19 $10,000 Small Business Support grant closes on July 1 and I urge anyone operator who is yet to apply or has an application underway to lodge it immediately through Service NSW.
To access up-to-date information on the response to OCVID-19 visit:
Commonwealth Government:
https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
The 3-step framework for a COVIDSafe Australia
https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/easing-of-coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions/easing-of-coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions#living-in-a-covidsafe-australia
National Coronavirus Helpline: 1800 020 080
NSW Government

https://preview.nsw.gov.au/covid-19
NSW Public Health Order Information
https://preview.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/public-health-orders
Service NSW 24/7 hotline: 13 77 88
COVID-19 Safety Plans
https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/industry-guidelines

COVID-19 Management:
Symptoms

  • fever
  • cough
  • sore/scratchy throat and
  • shortness of breath.

Other reported symptoms of COVID-19 include

  • loss of smell
  • loss of taste
  • runny nose
  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • diarrhoea
  • nausea/vomiting and
  • loss of appetite.

 
If you are sick and think you might have COVID-19, check your symptoms using healthdirect’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptom Checker.
https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/healthdirect-coronavirus-covid-19-symptom-checker
If you want to talk to someone about your symptoms, call the National Coronavirus Helpline 1800 020 080 or HealthDirect 1800 022 222.
If you have used the symptom checker and it advises you should look for help or get tested, seek medical help from a doctor or hospital – call ahead of time to book an appointment.
Tell the doctor about:

  • your symptoms
  • any travel history
  • any recent contact with someone who has COVID-19

 HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELVES AND OTHERS:
Social Distancing
Social distancing in public means people:

Changes to rules from Monday, June 1

  • Food courts are allowed to reopen.
  • The number of people allowed to visit homes will increase from 5 to 20.
  • The number of people allowed to gather outdoors will increase from 10 to 20.
  • Fitness, gyms, pilates, yoga and dance studios can reopen with up to
    • 10 people per class and
    • 100 people in an indoor venue.
  • Community centres, including their recreational facilities can reopen.
  • Some indoor recreational facilities including pools and saunas can reopen with restricted numbers.
  • Tattoo and massage parlours can reopen with up to 10 clients.

Changes to rules from Wednesday, July 1
From Wednesday 1 July, the following activities will be allowed:

  • Kids’ sport and community sports competitions for those aged 18 years and under.
  • Adult community sport.
  • The number of people allowed inside indoor venues that can open will be determined by the one person per 4 square metre rule, with no upper limit. This includes function centres. All activity must be seated only.
  • Cultural and sporting events at outdoor venues with a maximum capacity of 40,000 will be allowed up to 25% of their normal capacity. Events must be ticketed and seated and follow strict guidelines.


 
Self-isolation
You need to self-isolate in your home or hotel room if you have:

  • travelled overseas in the last 14 days
  • been in close contact with a person sick with COVID-19 infection

 People who are over the age of 70, the age of 60 with a pre-existing health condition and indigenous people over the age of 50, are also being encouraged to self-isolate to protect their health.  
State border restrictions
Several States and Territories now have strict border restrictions in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. If you intend to travel interstate, investigate what measures are in place in that jurisdiction before embarking.
Restrictions preventing interstate FIFO workers (except for certain positions in certain resource industries) apply from 11.59pm Saturday 4 April 2020.
Exemptions are in place for border communities like Mungindi, Boggabilla, Toomelah and Bonshaw, which rely on Queensland businesses to do their grocery shopping, attend medical appointments and work.
Quarantine exemptions are in place for those living outside of Queensland who provide services including transport of goods and freight including food, agribusinesses, essential health services, emergency services, maintenance and repair for critical infrastructure, energy, mining or government workers who perform official duties. 
Border residents needing to access essential services in Queensland NOW must apply for a border pass, which they will need to present if asked for by the authorities.
To access a border pass visit the Queensland Government’s website.
https://www.qld.gov.au/border-pass
TAFE NSW free short courses
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, TAFE NSW, in conjunction with the NSW Government, is offering a number of fee-free short courses that can be completed in just days or weeks, offering practical skills and experiences across a range of industries.
Due to the success of the initial 21 courses a further 13 have been added to replace those which have reached maximum enrolments.
Courses are in the areas of:

  • Develop Administration Skills
  • Enhance Your Digital Impact
  • Grow Health and Medical Knowledge
  • Improve Leadership Performance
  • Practical Business Skills

 More information can be found at https://www.tafensw.edu.au/fee-free-short-courses
Commercial and Residential Tenancies
The National Cabinet has agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.
Commercial tenants, landlords and financial institutions are encouraged to sit down together to find a way through to ensure that businesses can survive and be there on the other side
As part of this, National Cabinet agreed to a common set of principles, endorsed by Treasurers, to underpin and govern intervention to aid commercial tenancies as follows:

  • a short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent to be applied across commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus
  • tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease
  • the reduction or waiver of rental payment for a defined period for impacted tenants
  • the ability for tenants to terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress
  • commercial property owners should ensure that any benefits received in respect of their properties should also benefit their tenants in proportion to the economic impact caused by coronavirus
  • landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their lease and rental agreements
  • cost-sharing or deferral of losses between landlords and tenants, with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, local government and financial institutions to consider mechanisms to provide assistance

Keeping people in jobs and helping businesses stay afloat
The NSW Government has 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.

  • The creation of a $1 billion Working for NSW fund to sustain business, create new jobs and retrain employees. The fund is already being put in to action with 1000 new staff for Service NSW announced this week to be funded by the program. The Working for NSW fund will comprise $750 million in new funding and $250 million announced last week for additional cleaning services.
  • Deferral of payroll tax for business with payrolls over $10 million for six months (up to $4 billion deferred). Businesses with payrolls of $10 million or less received a three-month waiver on payroll tax in the first package. These businesses will now get an additional three month deferral as well.
  • Deferral of gaming tax for clubs, pubs and hotels, and lotteries tax for six months, conditional on these funds being used to retain staff. This improves liquidity and helps these businesses stay afloat.
  • Deferral of the parking space levy for six months.
  •  Deferral of rents for six months for commercial tenants with less than 20 employees in all Government-owned properties.

 NSW Government small business support package
Small businesses affected by restrictions implemented due to COVID-19, will be able to apply for grants of $10,000, to support with fixed costs.
Eligible businesses will need to have between 1 and 19 employees, a turnover of more than $75,000, and a payroll below the NSW government 2019-20 payroll tax threshold of $900,000.
The funds must be used for unavoidable business costs such as utilities, overheads, legal costs and financial advice. Service NSW will administer the scheme which operates until June 30.
This is the largest assistance support package for small businesses in NSW’s history and looks after those businesses which are not able to access payroll tax waivers.
JobKeeper payment
On 30 March 2020, the Government announced the $130 billion JobKeeper Payment package for eligible businesses, which may include sole traders, whose turnover had reduced by more than 30 per cent if they have a turnover of less than $1 billion or by more than 50 per cent if they have a turnover of more than $1 billion.

Businesses subject to the Major Bank Levy will not be eligible.
Following registration by the eligible business, the Government will provide $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee for a maximum of 6 months. This will support employers to maintain their connection with employees. Please see the Supporting businesses to retain jobs fact sheet for more information on this measure.
Every worker will get the same payment regardless of the regular wage of the employee, with the payment applicable to employees which have already been stood down and casuals who have been with the employer for twelve months.
The subsidy will start on 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by employers in the first week of May. Businesses will be able to register their interest in participating in the Payment from 30 March 2020 on the ATO website.
https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment/
For more information on the Federal Government’s stimulus package visit: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/resources
JobSeeker payment
The Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This supplement will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the eligible payment categories.
These changes will apply for the next six months. 
The income support payment categories eligible to receive the Coronavirus supplement are: 

  • Jobseeker Payment1 (and all payments progressively transitioning to JobSeeker Payment;
  • those currently receiving Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Sickness Allowance and Wife Pension)
  • Youth Allowance
  • Parenting Payment (Partnered and Single)
  • Austudy
  • ABSTUDY (Living Allowance)
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Special Benefit recipients

 Anyone who is eligible for the Coronavirus supplement will receive the full rate of the supplement of $550 per fortnight.
The Coronavirus supplement will commence from 27 April 2020.

Expansion of Energy Accounts Payment Scheme
Local households struggling to pay their energy bills during COVID-19 now have access to additional financial support directly through Service NSW, with a $30 million boost to the State Government’s emergency support Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) Scheme.
For ease of access, you can now apply for EAPA vouchers directly through Service NSW and you will be called for an assessment without having to leave your home.
The EAPA assessment threshold has been temporarily increased so people can receive up to $400 per assessment twice per year, compared to the normal amount of $300.
This means the annual maximum limit of vouchers for a household with both electricity and gas has increased from $1,200 to $1,600, up by $400.
During the assessment for EAPA vouchers, government representatives will also contact energy retailers with customers to assist with getting customers onto hardship plans, which will further protect customers during this extraordinarily difficult time.
For those needing bill support during this tough time to head to the Service NSW website – www.service.nsw.gov.au  – and register for an energy voucher assessment.

Reporting suspected self-isolation breaches
Crime Stoppers NSW is the best and most appropriate way to report any breaches or concerns around people acting contrary to self-isolation or Heath orders.
Crime Stoppers NSW can be contacted on 1800 333 000 or you can use their website https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/
Under the NSW Public Health Act, NSW Police now have new penalties which they will enforce to ensure people adhere to social distancing measures.
 
In the case of an individual, the maximum penalty is $11,000, or imprisonment for 6 months, or both and a further $5500 penalty may apply for each day the offence continues. The NSW Police may also issue on-the-spot fines of $1000 for an offence.
 

Additional COVID-19 information
Those in the community seeking regular, official, updates on COVID-19 can now download the Coronavirus Australia app. This app provides health advice to help stop the spread of the illness, a snapshot of the official status within Australia, symptoms check, relevant contact information and urgent updates from the Australian Government.
The app is available for Android on Google Play and for Apple at the Apple App Store. I urge people to jump on their devices and download it.
The Federal Government has launched a WhatsApp feature, which will provide similar information to users of that platform. WhatsApp can also be downloaded from Google Play and the Apple App Store.

ADAM MARSHALL
Member for Northern Tablelands