COVID-19 restrictions battering Australian economy: treasurer

Photo:Blue Mountains Library(CC BY-SA 2.0)


Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned Australia’s gross domestic product is likely to fall by ten to twelve per cent in the June quarter, as a result of restrictions imposed to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

In a speech to the National Press Club Mr Frydenberg said the government’s focus was getting Australians back into jobs, with the pandemic-related lockdown costing the economy around four billion dollars a week.

Restrictions on movement were announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state and territory governments, to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Mr Morrison explained Australia’s social distancing rules limiting gatherings of ten people down to a two person maximum excluding those who are living in a household.

“Advise has now been strengthened to say that it should be reduced to two persons in public spaces and other areas of gathering – states and territories will determine whether they proceed to make this an enforceable limit, in the same way that the ten-person limit is already being enforced but agreed that in all cases this is the strong advice of all states and territories,” he said.

“Unless it’s your household, the family, those who are living at your residence, being with only one other person as a gathering outside is what is required.”

On the spot fines have been issued if restrictions were not followed.

Mr Morrison further declared the closure of all skate parks, beaches, outdoor gyms and playgrounds, but made it clear that leaving the house to exercise was okay, as long as people followed public gathering rules.

The prime minister has stressed the importance of staying home throughout this pandemic by outlining the only acceptable reasons for leaving the house.

“You must stay at home, expect for the following reasons – a) shopping for what you need, food and other essential supplies that enable you to remain at home and to do that shopping, as infrequently as possible…b) for medical care or compassionate needs, c) to exercise in compliance with the public gathering rules, that I have already outlined…d) for work and education, if you cannot work remotely.”

Further warnings were issued to the elderly, the chronically ill, and indigenous persons over the age of 50, to stay home in isolation for their own protection.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told the ABC Australia’s restrictions were strong but necessary to stay safe.

A meeting of the national cabinet this week will discuss what restrictions can be lifted, with state governments expected to announce plans to begin easing lockdowns soon after.