CONRONAVIRUS UPDATE: What you need to know on Thursday

- March 19, 2020 4 MIN READ
Hey Bluey, you need to work on social distancing. ABC TV
Hello, it’s March 19.

We’re publishing this daily update to keep the startup/tech community informed about the global coronavirus pandemic.

Why the picture? Firstly, we want to start the day with a smile. And also, see below for Bluey’s part in dealing with COVID-19.

We split our daily update into six sections: Response, Business, Global, Cancellations, Advice and, And also, to help you find what interests you.

The latest news in each section is at the top.

Let’s begin with the key points

  • International travel from Australia is banned. Authorities say domestic flights are ‘low risk’
  • Non-essential gatherings of 100 people or more in indoor areas are banned, the limit is 500 outdoors
  • The government directed schools to remain open. The UK will close its schools on Friday
  • The RBA is set to cut interest rates again today, and introduce quantitative easing
  • The national number of new coronavirus cases surpassed 100 for the first time on Wednesday. There are 568 cases, with six deaths
  • The AFL season will begin tonight, without a crowd. The NRL’s 2nd round is proceeding too
  • The Morrison government’s 2nd stimulus package is expected today
  • Competition watchdog the ACCC has ramped up scrutiny of refunds and price gouging
  • Tasmania will force people arriving on the island into quarantine for 14 days
  • Qantas has shut down international flights and is putting two-thirds of its workforce on leave
  • The good news? Petrol has fallen below $1 a litre in Sydney. Oil is at 18-year lows globally


Ok Thursday, we can do this. Check back for updates throughout the day as things unfold.



Tasmania goes into lockdown. Premier Peter Gutwein declared a state of emergency and people visiting the Apple Isle will have to quarantine for 14 days from midnight on Friday. Essential travel – for health and emergency reasons – is exempt. 

The new rules apply to residents as well as visitors, with a threat of six months’ jail for flouting the self-quarantine law, alongside fines of up to $16,800 fine

Victoria is putting an extra $437 million into health funding for hospital beds, staff and treatment. 

Health minister Jenny Mikakos said it comes on top of $100 million previously announced, for an expected 3-month peak.  It will add 269 beds to the public system.

Queensland has new laws to isolate people. The fine for disobeying an isolation order is $13,000.

The powers also give emergency officers the ability to direct a business owner to open, close or limit visitor access to the facility for a specified period. Emergency officers can also direct businesses such as supermarkets to open and close and control public access to those businesses. The can also direct people to stay at home or head to hospital.

What Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday

  • Level 4 travel ban introduced for 1st time. No overseas travel until further notice.
  • A ban on non-essential gatherings of 100 people or more in indoor areas, effective immediately. With further restrictions being investigated.
  • Essential gatherings include: public transport, hotels, prisons, courts, shopping centres, offices and factories, construction sites.
  • 500 limit remains in place for outdoor venues.
  • “We are going to keep Australia running. We are going to keep Australia functioning,” Morrison said.
  • Health advice is schools should remain open. “It has a different manifestation amongst younger people,” PM says compared to adults.
  • PM warns any measures introduced will need to be in place for six months. And there is “a national public interest to keep the schools open”.
  • PM says measures have “quite severe economic implications” and “wherever possible we need to keep Australians working”.
  • Domestic air travel is ‘low risk’ according to medical advice. “We have not seen a lot of evidence of people contracting this virus on aircraft,” PM said.
  • Anzac will be marked nationally with a televised service from the Australian War Memorial. All other events are cancelled.
  • New aged care home restrictions: limit of two people a day, in rooms rather than communal areas. No large or school groups.
  • Special arrangements will be made for people at the end of their life.
  • On catching a taxi or Uber, “get in the back seat” PM says to practice social distancing.
  • PM tells people to stop hoarding: “It’s ridiculous! It’s un-Australian, and it must stop.”
  • Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy, beside PM, says expert advice is a 2-4 week shutdown of society “does not achieve anything” and “the virus will just flare up again”.
  • To meet the 100 people indoors limit, when parliament returns next week, the House of Reps will have 60 less MPs attending – 30 from govt and 30 from Labor – for 90 in chamber in total and 22 fewer senators will attend too. There will be a Question Time.


Qantas and Jetstar will stand down the majority of their 30,000 employees until at least the end of May.

Employees will be able to draw down on annual and long service leave and additional support mechanisms will be introduced, including leave at half pay and early access to long service leave. Employees with low leave balances at the start of the stand down will be able to access up to four weeks’ leave in advance of earning it.

Senior Group Management Executives and the Board will no longer be paid until the end of FY20.




Globally, there have been more than 200,000 cases with more than 8,000 deaths. More than 80,000 people have recovered.

The European Central Bank is on a QE spending spree, committing to buying 750 billion euros (AU$1.42 trillion) in government and private sector bonds in 2020. The ECB launched stimulus last week, but like central banks everywhere, is now scrambling to prop up economis grinding to a screaming halt.


Cancellations & closures

Eurovision has been called off for 2020. After they didn’t pick Kate Miller-Heidke as the winner last year, we’re not sorry.

The City of Sydney has closed all pools and gyms for a fortnight. Libraries will operate on greatly reduced hours.



For your kids who are Bluey fans.





* Australia’s leading tech companies pledge to #StopTheSpread

* A venture capitalist’s 3 lessons from the last two tech crashes

* 35 of the most commonly asked questions about coronavirus, answered by experts

Zoho makes its remote working productivity suite free to help businesses tackle coronavirus

* A coronavirus winter is coming for Australian startups

* CABIN FEVER: How to prepare for the social and psychological impacts of a coronavirus lockdown


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