Australia markets closed

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Hello all.

1. Firstly, a reminder of what Scott Morrison announced at his coronavirus presser yesterday morning. Australia's travel advisory for the rest of the world has been upgraded to an unprecedented level four – meaning 'do not travel'. There is now a ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 people or more. Restrictions have been placed on visitations to aged care homes. 20,000 student nurses will have restrictions on their ability to work in the healthcare system lifted. Schools will remain open, and there is no total lockdown on the horizon.

2. Qantas is suspending all international flights. More than 150 aircraft will be temporarily grounded including all of Qantas' A380s, 747s and B787-9s and Jetstar’s B787-8s. More than two-thirds of its 30,000 employees are to be temporarily stood down in order to "preserve as many jobs as possible longer term". “The efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus have led to a huge drop in travel demand, the likes of which we have never seen before. This is having a devastating impact on all airlines," chief executive Alan Joyce said in a statement.

3. Australian airlines are set to receive a $715 million bailout from the government, as coronavirus travel restrictions slaughter their bottom line. The federal government will waive all fees and levies which otherwise would be owed, and will reimburse the airlines the $159 million collected from them since February 1. Critics of the package, however, point to multi-million dollar executive pay packets as well as the airlines' previous propensity for stock buybacks as a reason why these funds shouldn't be issued without strings attached.

4. Both Woolworths and Coles have implemented their toughest buying restrictions yet, as supermarket shelves continue to look woefully bare. Woolies has implemented a two-item limit on most packaged goods, whereas Coles has extended its own two-item limit to a number of other categories. You can read the full list here.

5. Retailers are beefing up their delivery networks, in anticipation of a growing number of Australians making purchases from home. Both of the major supermarkets are on the hunt for more drivers, and Australia Post is also ramping up capacity for online deliveries. Morgan Stanley said it expects this period to lead to "more long term online grocery purchasing" as many consumers order their basics online for the first time.

6. The NBN will boost bandwidth to its telco providers free of charge, in order to better supply the large number of people currently working from home. This will come in the form of a 40% boost in capacity. "This is equivalent to the higher end of increased data bandwidth requirements that we have seen in countries such as Italy, which have mandated work from home arrangements," said chief executive Stephen Rue.

7. US stocks fell on Wednesday, erasing Tuesday’s gains as the coronavirus pandemic continued to spur investor panic. The S&P 500 tumbled 7% around 1 p.m. ET, triggering a so-called circuit breaker, which halted market-wide trading for 15 minutes. It comes as the US Senate passes emergency measures to cushion the financial pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

8. Australia's government might be doing everything it can to avoid a Kevin Rudd-style universal handout to Australians, but the US seems to have no such compunctions right now. It’s increasingly likely that Americans will get a government cheque of $US1,000 or more in the coming weeks. The Trump administration announced it was pushing for a $US1 trillion stimulus bill, which would include the funding for that handout.

9. Italy reported 475 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the highest single-day death toll for any country since the outbreak began. As of the announcement, the coronavirus had infected more than 35,700 people and killed nearly 3,000 people in Italy. By way of comparison, even at the peak of China’s outbreak its highest single-day death toll was 150, on February 23.

10. Schools will close across the UK in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Education Secretary confirmed English schools will close on Friday afternoon “until further notice", and Scotland and Wales are expected to follow closely behind. Here in Australia, Scott Morrison says the advice from his medical experts is closing schools will not slow the spread of the virus enough to justify the economic and social disruption.


In line with previous examples of giving you 10 terrible coronavirus updates, and then one nice video to detox, here you go. I thought this was fun: