The Coronavirus pandemic is having a great and serious impact on the health and wellbeing of the world and Australia is not an exception. Many businesses have been forced to shut down resulting in unemployment and financial hardships.
Thousands of flights have been canceled and borders closed in order to practice social distancing and stopping the virus spread. Tourism in Australia is an important economic component and it represents 3 % of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product. With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak tourism is one of the sectors that was hit hardest.
The Australian government is putting in a great effort in order to contain the virus spread in the country and relieve the economic pressure on those who are suffering.
What safety measures have been implemented?
Australia is closely monitoring the virus outbreak and implementing many safety measures in order to stop the spread of the COVID-19. Like many other countries Australia has applied travel restrictions, all foreign visitors have been advised to leave Australia and most of the Australian nationals have returned back to the country. Australian residents are not allowed to leave the country for tourism and non-essential purposes, if there is an essential national interest Australians can apply for an exemption to travel.
From March some states started closing education establishments although the federal government is trying to put everything in order so students will be able to physically attend schools for the second semester. Depending on the demand some schools will remain open and some will be closed and classes replaced with remote studying.
Australians have been advised to stay at home and leave only if absolutely necessary. Most of the social and entertainment events have been canceled allowing only social gatherings of 2 people. Australians have been advised to avoid paying with cash and using only credit cards as well as keeping a distance of 1.5 meters away from others.
What are the travel restrictions?
Once the numbers of infected people started rising Australian government responded quickly by implementing travel restrictions for foreign visitors as well as Australian residents. Foreign visitors have been advised to return to their home countries if the border restrictions allow them to do so. Australian nationals cannot travel overseas, however, they can apply for an exemption to travel if they are conducting critical businesses, need urgent medical treatment or the travel is in the national interest. Australians can apply for the exemption although it does not guarantee entrance in the destination country as there might be border restrictions implemented by the foreign government.
Permanent visa holders are able to remain in Australia, in case if the visa holder wishes to return back to Australia they must check the travel facility period. Temporary visa holders have been advised to return to their home countries if that is not possible due to any reason they must apply for a visa extension before the current one expires. The Australian government has implemented a flexible approach for visa extensions as some of the foreign passport holders are unable to return to their home countries due to border restrictions as well as financial troubles.
How is this situation affecting business?
Small businesses across the world, as well as in Australia, are currently experiencing economic hardships. Small businesses have been forced to shut down while leaving many of their employees without an income. The Australian government is advising to prepare for at least 6 months of disruption to business as well as society. Almost 60% of Australian businesses have been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and it is expected that over 1 million Australians will lose their jobs in the upcoming months. The hardest-hit sectors are the travel and hospitality industry, as tourists have been forced to return to their home countries hotels are now left empty, airlines are ordered to stay down and small businesses are closing their doors for an unknown period.
Back in 2019 and as well as early 2020 Australia was already suffering from the bushfires and floods which affected many businesses leaving no time to recover before the Coronavirus outbreak.
The affected employees and businesses will be able to apply for a fortnightly payment of 1,500$ per employee and businesses that are unable to afford rent or utility bills will receive support as the Australian government has launched stimulus measures.