CORONAVIRUS LATEST: Here’s what you need to know on Tuesday

- March 17, 2020 6 MIN READ

Good morning and welcome to St Patrick’s Day. We’ll be buying a Guinness and drinking it at home today. As Australia and New Zealand grapple with the global coronavirus pandemic, we’re publishing this new daily update to keep the startup/tech community informed.

Hanx has been discharged from hospital. His wife, Rita Wilson, remains under observation.

Here’s how things sit on Tuesday

  • Overseas arrivals to Australia must self-isolate for 14 days
  • The national number of coronavirus cases hit 369 nationally. 171 are in NSW.
  • The ASX had its worst trading day since 1987, with the market falling 9.7%
  • The local cruise industry has been shut down for 30 days
  • Most schools remain open for now
  • Aged care facilities are going into lockdown to protect residents, with many stopping visitors
  • Anzac Day services have been cancelled, amid a widespread cultural shutdown. 
  • The US stock market crashed again overnight


OK, let’s do this for Tuesday. Check back for updates throughout the day as things unfold.



Who knew (no pun intended) we’d be relearning how to wash our hands.

Transport for NSW is asking commuters to try and travel outside of peak times to help with social distancing. Hopefully we won’t all do it at once…

How to work from home.

How to communicate with your teams as you deal with coronavirus.

We love this from Nextdoor. Print it out for your street.


Qantas cuts deeper. The national carrier will cut international capacity by around 90% until at least the end of May 2020, a massive jump from the 23% reduction announced last week. Domestic capacity will be cut by around 60% too, another large jump on the previous 5% reduction. Qantas says that represents the grounding of around 150 aircraft, including almost all of the wide-body fleet.

“Previously announced cuts in place from end-May through to mid-September remain in place and are likely to be increased, depending on demand,” the airline said.

Route-by-route details for Qantas and Jetstar will be announced in coming days. The airline didn’t outline the impact on jobs beyond saying “the precipitous decline in demand and resulting cuts to flying mean that the Qantas Group is confronted with a significant labour surplus across its operations. Travel demand is unlikely to rebound for weeks or possibly months and the impact of this will be felt across the entire workforce of 30,000 people.”

The airline previously announced booking waivers and credits for customers wanting to suspend their travel plans.


The states are beginning to roll out their own stimulus investment to keep jobs and bolster

NSW announces a $2.3 billion coronavirus stimulus package, with a majority, $1.6 billion, allocated to economic stimulus, including on payroll tax relief for small businesses.

The remaining $700 million is for extra health funding, including ventilators, respiratory clinics, intensive care beds, and more testing.

Waiving payroll tax for businesses with a payroll under $10 million for the next 3 months is worth $450 million, and other fees and charges on an already hammer hospitality sector will save them $80 million. $250 million will be spend on extra cleaning – with extra employees – to cleanse public facilities. NSW is also bringing forward $750 million worth of capital works and infrastructure maintenance, including on public housing.

Queensland is setting up a $500 million loan facility for businesses. The state has also extended its six-month deferral (but not not waived) on payroll tax payments to all companies. Around 300 SMEs have already asked for the deferral, Qld treasurer Jackie Trad said

The loans for up to $250,000 are interest free for a year.


Western Australia’s $607 million stimulus package includes a freeze on household fees and charges for more than 15 months until FY21, worth $402 million.

Alas Sandgropers still have to pay their power and water bills and car registration, but planned increases to those bills have been called off, along with rises to public transport fares and the emergency services levy.

An estimated 7,400 WA businesses with a payroll bill between $1-4 million will get a one-off $17,500 grant, worth $114 million in total. Raising the payroll tax threshold to $1 million will be brought forward to July 1 this year.

WA public sector will also receive 20 days of paid COVID-19 leave.

Wall Street had its biggest fall since the 1987 crash as the market headed in the opposite direction to US Federal Reserve’s hopes when it cut interest rates to zero and pumped US$700 billion into the market through quantitative easing (QE) (aka “printing money” by buying bonds). Australia’s Reserve Bank looks set to take similar measures later this week.

The Dow Jones index fell 12.9% – 2,998 points – with the tech-focused Nasdaq plummeted 12.3%. The ASX looks set to fall 4% on opening today.

The US market now has limit down handbrakes for dramatic falls, so for the fourth time in a week, trading on Wall Street was halted.

Some good news? Oil is now below US$30 a barrel, it’s lowest price in four years.

South Korea and Kuwait’s central banks have both lowered interest rates.

The size of the contraction in China emerged in trade figures, with retail sales falling 20.5%, while industrial output fell 13.5%.

Air New Zealand is looking to cut 30% of its workforce – around 3000 jobs as the global airline industry grinds to a halt.



Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) will close from Wednesday for the “foreseeable future”.

The Sydney Writer’s Festival was cancelled last night.


US President Donald Trump says brace for recession.

Trump told Americans to educate their children at home, avoid travel and gathering in groups of 10 or more, and to avoid public places for the next 15 days.

“If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus,” he said.

The country’s east coast has shut down bars and restaurants except for takeaway.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people over 70 and anyone with a serious medical conditions to avoid public contact for three months.

The government didn’t introduce bans, but Johnson said: “We need people to start working from home where they possibly can. And you should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.”

French President Emmanuel Macron says his country is “at war” and has suspended gas, electricity and water bills, as well as rent payments. The country goes into lockdown from noon Tuesday.

The European Union has banned non-essential travel for 30 days. Non EU member will be denied entry to the region unless they have family who are EU nationals or they have long-term residency. Trading has been limited to daytime – 6am-6pm.

Germany has closed its borders and shut bars, clubs, theatres and museums, as well as retailers.

Ireland will offer employers €203 (AU$372) per week as a rebate for every worker they keep in a job.

Russia is closing its borders to non-residents on Wednesday.


Coles limits stockpiling. The retailer has put a two-pack limit on range of products, including frozen vegies, fresh pasta and eggs.

Researchers at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity have been looking at how the human immune system fights coronavirus and have concluded its the same way the body fights the flu. The ABC has more here.

We hesitate to mention this, but NSW Police have suspended random breath testing. Please don’t use that as an excuse to be a bloody idiot and threaten more lives.

And also

The show went on with the MSO.

If you were lucky enough to see New Order on their recent Australian tour, here’s an easy-to-follow guide to washing your hands. Tell me now how do you feel?

And the ABC’s Dr Norman Swan is doing a stellar job making sense of the crazy. Listen to his comments on the theory of herd immunity – touted in the UK – when it comes to dealing with this virus.