Return to work on the cards as virus costs economy $50 billion

Australian businesses are being urged to get their workplaces “COVID-safe” so we can start getting millions of people back to work.

It comes as figures show the COVID-19 crisis has cost the Australian economy $50 billion and will continue to cost $4 billion a week while restrictions remain in place.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, almost one million people have lost their jobs since mid-March with the hospitality industry hit the hardest.


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One million JobSeeker payments have now been processed while five million Australians are receiving JobKeeper.

One million Australians have been given approval to access their superannuation while 340,000 businesses have been given help with cash flow, worth $7 billion.

Related: No extension to JobSeeker supplement despite almost one million jobs lost

National Cabinet met on Tuesday and while any decision about easing restrictions won’t happen until Friday, it’s expected Australians will soon be given the green light to return to the workplace.

Officials have been working on measures to provide businesses with the tools to make sure their workplace is COVID-safe.

“It is not just being able to go back to a workplace that is safe but also about being able to do that confidently,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday.

“Let’s not forget when we ease these restrictions, you will see numbers increase in some areas, you will see outbreaks occur in other places, that is to be expected.

“What matters is how you deal with it, and how you respond to it, and it is important that businesses, employees and employers have the tools to deal with the Covid-19 environment and ensure they are all working together to support a Covid-19 safe workplace.”

A toolkit for businesses is being made available on the Safe Work Australia website.

Trans-Tasman travel bubble 

National Cabinet was today joined by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who updated leaders on how that country has handled the coronavirus crisis.

Discussions were also held about allowing travel between Australia and New Zealand in the not-too-distant future.

Mr Morrison says it will happen, but it’s still some time away.

“It is important to flag it because it is part of the road back, at some point both Australia and New Zealand will connect with the rest of the world again, the most obvious place for that to start is between the two countries.

“We could see that happening but it’s not something about to happen next week, it is something that will better sit alongside when we are seeing Australians travel from Melbourne to Cairns, at about that time I would expect everything being equal we would be able to fly from Melbourne to Auckland or Christchurch or things like that.”

Mr Morrison says he’s confident people may soon be able to travel interstate, despite some states’ borders still being closed.

“Hopefully, by the end of term school holiday, if they are able to go and have a holiday on the Gold Coast or in South Australia or wherever it happens to be out of one’s home state, let’s hope that is possible.”

COVIDSafe app to pass 5 million 

The Prime Minister has confirmed the number of Australians downloading the Federal Government’s COVIDSafe app is set to pass the 5 million mark by the end of today.

Mr Morrison is pleased with that figure but says they still want a greater uptake so they can have more confidence to lift restrictions.

“It’s most important job is to keep you safe, every single Australian that downloads it, it keeps them safe, if you have come into contact with someone who also has the app who has been infected by COVID-19 you will know and people will get in touch with you so they can tell you you have been officially compromised by the virus.

“The more people we get the better protection we all have as we go back to work on, as the national cabinet considers further restrictions.”

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