As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia’s hardest hit state, New South Wales, surges past 200, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said it is too early to tell if the outbreak would lead to the same mandates applied in overseas jurisdictions including Italy, France, Spain, Ireland and the United States.
“We are not at that stage yet [of closing venues],” told the ABC. “But I do appreciate all of us, including myself, are taking extra precautions as we should, so there is no doubt been a downturn in what people normally do.”
Earlier in the day, celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge revealed restaurateurs have been told to expect forced closures as of Sunday 22 March.
“The next few weeks are going to be really tough, we’re not going to make money. We’ll just be staying afloat,” said Fassnidge on The Morning Show.
“It’s more or less going to be Sunday or a few days after. I’m a bit worried today, so we’ll see what happens… I didn’t sleep last night. We’ve got a lot of casual staff, and we’re going to try and keep the businesses open and serve food pre-packed so you don’t have to come in.”
Like many restaurants, Fassnidge’s venue By Fassnidge at Banksia Bistro has taken a big hit to covers, with just 20 guests seated on Saturday night compared to the usual crowd of 150.
The New South Wales government had just revealed a further $2.3 billion health boost and stimulus package, including $450 million for the waiver of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months (the rest of 2019-20) and $80 million to waive a range of fees and charges for small businesses including bars, cafes and restaurants.
The National Security Committee and the National Cabinet, which includes the Prime Minister and all state leaders, are set to meet today, as is the Federal Cabinet, with medical experts set to provide further advice about social distancing measures.
More to come.