The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says all Australians overseas should return home, while Canada has closed its borders to all foreigners except for US citizens, people in the Netherlands are queuing to “panic buy” marijuana and Qantas and Jetstar have slashed flight numbers.
This story is regularly updated. You can also stay informed with the latest episode of the Coronacast podcast.
Tuesday’s key moments
All Australian travellers told to return home from overseas due to coronavirus
As more countries issue travel bans, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued advice recommending Australians abroad return home as soon as possible via commercial flights.
DFAT is warning people they may not be able to return home at a later stage as more countries close borders due to the rapid spread of coronavirus.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that anyone coming into Australia would be subject to a 14-day self-isolation period.
Do you have questions about coronavirus self-isolation and what to do? Check out this handy guide
Quarantine is essential to stopping the rapid spread of COVID-19 and across the world, gatherings of all kinds are being restricted.
Many people are practicing social distancing and minimising physical contact, but what if you’re required to self-isolate?
Should you share a bed with your partner? Can you go shopping or even leave home without risking a large fine?
If anyone is wondering about how to greet people now the handshake is frowned upon for its germ-spreading potential, here are some other options.
From high-fives to fist bumps and finger guns, there are several alternatives. Check this out to find ways to greet someone in the time of coronavirus.
Arts sector needs $850 million stimulus to save jobs
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival was due to be held from March 25 to April 19. (774 ABC Melbourne: Simon Leo Brown, file photo)
With thousands of artists, comedians and musicians forced to cancel gigs due to measures enacted to deal with coronavirus, arts industry leaders are seeking financial help.
Live Performance Australia executive director Evelyn Richardson is warning that performance shutdowns would cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars.
“This is a much longer timeframe than I think people were preparing for — we’re planning for four to six months’ closure, this is not just four weeks,” she said.
Regional touring music festival Groovin the Moo was set to visit Wayville, Canberra, Bunbury, Bendigo, Townsville and Maitland through April and May, but festival organisers today announced the festival’s cancellation.
Groovin The Moo is the latest in a growing list of festivals and events to be cancelled or postponed due to the impact of COVID-19.
From international staples like Coachella and SXSW, to Australia’s own Splendour In The Grass, Download Festival, Ability Fest, and Bluesfest, the live music industry is being hit hard by measures taken to combat the spread of the virus.
Qantas and Jetstar slash 90 per cent of flights
Qantas and Jetstar will cut international capacity by about 90 per cent, and domestic capacity by about 60 per cent, until at least the end of May.
In a statement, the airlines said the changes were due to a drop in travel demand due to coronavirus, and it would mean the grounding of about 150 aircraft.
“Despite the deep cuts, the national carrier’s critical role in transporting people and goods on key international, domestic, routes will be maintained,” the statement read.
The company has introduced a booking waiver for customers who wish to suspend or change their travel plans.
It also said customers with existing bookings on any domestic or international flight until May 31 who no longer wanted to travel could cancel their flights and get a credit voucher.
Doctors want stricter lockdowns as Government considers more stimulus
Fears that the outbreak in Australia could become worse than in Italy have lead to doctors pleading with governments to immediately increase their response.
Intensive care specialist Greg Kelly said he had consulted with colleagues at major hospitals to devise a plan, which included stricter lockdowns and social distancing as well as increasing health resources.
“On current growth rates, the 300 cases in Australia today will be … 10,000 by the 4th of April,” the letter from the doctors said.
The Australian Medical Association, however, said the actions proposed were not yet necessary.
As doctors call on governments for further action, Federal Cabinet is meeting to discuss further stimulus measures, adding to the $17.6 million package announced less than a week ago.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has also confirmed ministers are considering scaling up the nation’s response.
Tom Hanks released from Gold Coast hospital
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson went into hospital on the Gold Coast last week after testing positive for coronavirus. (Instagram)
His wife Rita Wilson remains in the isolation ward for the time being.
The star couple went into hospital last week after testing positive to COVID-19.
Hanks revealed the couple’s diagnosis on social media last week and thanked “everyone here Down Under” who had taken care of them.
Hanks was in Queensland to work on an Elvis biopic with director Baz Luhrmann.
Supermarkets open for older customers but shelves stripped of goods
Both stores are putting aside an hour between 7:00am and 8:00am to make it easier for these groups to do their shopping.
Following days of panic buying, staff at some locations had been unable to restock.
Woolworths managing director Claire Peters said the company was doing the best it could to get more stock onto shelves “as quickly as possible in the face of unprecedented demand”.
Coles is hiring more than 5,000 casual staff to help deal with demand.
It will limit purchases of products including eggs, chilled pasta, frozen vegetables, frozen dessert, paper towels, hand sanitiser and toilet paper.
NBL cancels remaining games in final series, ALF season shortened
As sporting codes across Australia and around the world continue to grapple with how best to proceed, the NBL has ended the grand final series between the Sydney Kings and Perth Wildcats.
The Wildcats were leading the best-of-five game series 2-1 and game four was due to be played in Perth on Friday night.
With the final now not going ahead, the NBL will consider the outcome of the championship over the next few days.
If a player tests positive to coronavirus, the season will be suspended.
The NRL will play matches in empty stadiums from round two with players facing the potential of a pay cut.
NSW announces $2.3b stimulus package as confirmed coronavirus cases pass 200
The NSW Government has unveiled a $2.3 billion package in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with $700 million for health funding and $1.6 billion in economic stimulus measures.
The health funding is designed to double the capacity of intensive care units in hospitals, help prepare for more coronavirus testing and allow for the purchase of extra ventilators and medical equipment.
Your questions on coronavirus answered:
The economic stimulus component of the package is aimed at keeping people employed, with $450 million to be spent waiving payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months.
A further $80 million will be used to keep small businesses, including cafes and builders, exempt from some fees and charges.
Mr Hazzard has also warned people to prepare for an exponential increase in infection.
There are now 210 confirmed cases across NSW, with a further 1,482 under investigation.
Canada closes its borders
Canada has closed its borders to all foreigners and non-residents in its latest attempt to contain coronavirus.
Addressing the nation from self-isolation where he has been since his wife Sophie contracted COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told his fellow Canadians the borders were closing.
He said Canadian citizens, permanent residents and people from the United States would be exempt, but everyone who did enter would have to quarantine for 14 days.
“It is a significant step but it is the right step to be taking today,” he said.
There are currently 377 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Canada, most stemming from travel outside the country.
Red light goes out in Amsterdam as people ‘panic buy’ marijuana
Sex clubs in Amsterdam’s “red light” district have closed down and long lines continue to form at marijuana coffee shops after the Netherlands imposed tight restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Dutch Government has ordered all restaurants and cafes, including those selling hashish and cannabis, shut down until April 6.
Schools are also closed in the Netherlands in an effort to contain the pandemic.
MONA closed indefinitely as Tasmania declares health emergency
Hobart’s Museum of New and Old Art (MONA) will close indefinitely, owner David Walsh has announced.
“I hope people care enough to visit when we reopen. I hope that people care enough to understand why we’ve closed,” he said.
MONA is one of Tasmania’s biggest tourist drawcards, and the museum’s winter festival Dark Mofo was cancelled last week.
The announcement came as the Tasmanian Government said it would declare a public health emergency.
It brings Tasmania into line with a number of other states and territories who have this week made their own emergency declarations.
A public health emergency gives powers for the Director of Public Health to quarantine, isolate or evacuate people.
Anzac Day march cancelled in SA
South Australia is now in step with other states over Anzac Day arrangements, with the main march and memorial service in Adelaide cancelled because of coronavirus concerns.
The state’s RSL branch said the “decision wasn’t taken lightly”, but followed similar moves in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia.
Adelaide’s dawn service is currently expected to proceed, but it will not be open to the general public. The RSL said it was still working out live-streaming arrangements.
US warns against social gatherings with more than 10 people
The US has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases, with seniors in this Washington state nursing home put into quarantine. (AP: Ted S Warren)
Millions of Americans are holed up at home, with many of them thrown out of work until further notice, as US authorities clamp down on travel and socialising.
US President Donald Trump recommended that Americans avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people, discretionary travel, and going to bars, restaurants and food courts.
He also said children should be homeschooled where possible.
US President Donald Trump said the worst of the coronavirus could be over by July, August or later. (Reuters: Kevin Lamarque)
Mr Trump said the new guidelines from his coronavirus task force applied for 15 days and were meant to slow the spread of the disease.
“We’ve made the decision to further toughen the guidelines and blunt the infection now,” Mr Trump told reporters at the White House.
“We’d much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it.
“With several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly.”
Dow Jones plunges in its worst day since 1987
About 82 million people, or three-fifths of the US workforce, are hourly employees and many of them will not get paid if they do not work.
The Fed hoped that cutting rates would ease fears on Wall Street, but that plan backfired. (Reuters: Lucas Jackson)
Mr Trump admitted that the US economy could already be in a recession.
“Well it may be,” Mr Trump said, on a day when the US stock market dropped almost 13 per cent.
“We’re not thinking in terms of recession. We’re thinking in terms of the virus.”
Meanwhile, the ASX has recorded a surprising rebound, while the Australian dollar has dropped to 60.98 US cents.
How the rest of the world is reacting
The European Union has moved to restrict foreign travellers while also proposing fast-track traffic lanes to make sure vital medical equipment reaches its citizens.
EU officials fear that countries acting alone and without coordination might make things more difficult for neighbours whose healthcare systems are already creaking.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said travel restrictions into Europe should be put in place for an initial period of 30 days. Exemptions could be given to long-term residents in the EU, border area workers, family members of European nationals and diplomats.
- The New Zealand Government has announced it will pump $NZ12 billion ($11.8 billion) into the national economy — representing 4 per cent of the country’s GDP
- India has closed the Taj Mahal, its top tourist site, along with dozens of other protected monuments, museums and religious sites
- French President Emmanuel Macron said the country was “at war” with an “invisible, untouchable and advancing” enemy, as he announced French would only be allowed to leave their homes for necessary activities such as shopping for food or going to work
- Britons have been urged to avoid all non-essential social contact with each other, in what UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described as the most far-reaching measures ever seen in peacetime
- Malaysia is shutting its borders to travellers, restricting internal movement, closing schools and universities and ordering most businesses to shut
What the experts are saying about coronavirus: