Daily News Roundup

March 26, 2020

THURSDAY, March 28

Hairdressing appointments with no time limits are back on after the Federal Government lifted its restrictions on hairdressers and barbers announced on Tuesday night.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said based on feedback from the industry, premiers and chief ministers agreed during a National Cabinet meeting last night to ditch the restriction 

“The 4-square-metre rule per person must be strictly observed within the premises and that personal contact during the patron’s visit should be minimised wherever possible,” he said in a statement.

The PM also announced that the states and territories had the power to allow a few more than 10 people attend funerals.

He said it had been noted that in hardship cases, states and territories can provide exemptions in relation to attendance at funerals, but only at the margin.”

The ABC reported that means one or two additional family members might be able to attend a funeral under special circumstances.

In other COVID-19 developments:

  • Health authorities in NSW today confirmed 190 new coronavirus infections — a 10 per cent drop on the 212 new cases announced yesterday.
  • The Australian Navy has been asked by the WA Government to help get a cruise liner off the WA coast to leave Australian waters.
  • Thousands more Australian workers have been stood down, as Flight Centre and retail group Premier Investments shut stores in response to the pandemic.
  • Two men being treated for COVID-19 in Victoria have died, becoming the state’s first coronavirus fatalities and bringing the national total to 19. 
  • The retail group behind stationery brand Smiggle, sleepwear chain Peter Alexander and fashion outlets including Portmans and Just Jeans will close all retail stores in Australia from tonight until late-April. Premier Investments said all its employees in Australia would be temporarily stood down as a result, except for “a small number of employees required to perform limited essential work”.

Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth said the 30-minute hairdressing rule had to be scrapped because it was impractical.

“It was very apparent that it was an impractical limitation,” he said.

“I know my wife has never been to the hairdresser for less than 30 minutes and neither have I to be frank.”

The WA call on the Navy to help get the cruise ship Artania to leaver Australian waters came as it was revealed seven on the ship’s tested positive for COVID-19.

The Artania has no Australians among its 800 passengers and 500 crew.

WA authorities have said only people with a life-threatening medical situation would be allowed entry into the state.

WA Health officials were on board the ship yesterday testing and assessing people.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the Artania’s home port was actually Germany, “so what we’re saying to the ship is ‘you need to leave’, and we’re saying to the Commonwealth ‘you need to help us get that ship to leave’.

The Navy is being asked to help the ship with refueling. 

The two men who died overnight in Victoria from COVID-19 were in their 70s.

“Sadly we have recorded the first two deaths in Victoria related to the coronavirus,” said Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos.

“Our thoughts are with their loved ones at this difficult time.”

The state’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, told radio station 3AW that the tragic deaths were not unexpected given the number of COVID-19 cases in Victoria.

“We’re now up to 520 cases, so two deaths amongst 500 is relatively small looking at the global figures,” he said.

Flight Centre said it had spoken to other potential employers to create a pool of 10,000 sales and call centre vacancies for stood-down employees.

The company had previously announced the closure of 100 stores across the country over the next year and had suspended its shares from trading on the ASX, as it assessed the impact of major flight suspensions by the airlines.

Today, Flight Centre said it had fast-tracked store closure plans globally and would be able to close around 30 per cent of its outlets in Australia over the next few months.

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