Australia is struggling with a second wave of coronavirus cases, reporting 1259 new cases and 10 deaths since Friday. The country announced 267 new cases today. The nation currently has 3,530 active cases, according to official figures.
In order to support business hard-hit by the pandemic, Australia announced today that it would extend its coronavirus loan guarantee scheme, allowing businesses to borrow AUD 1 million (USD 700,000) – a four-fold increase from the previous credit limit of AUD 250,000.
The new wave of coronavirus cases has also prompted heightened COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria, the state most badly hit by the pandemic. Face masks will now be mandatory in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire from Thursday, in addition to Victoria’s Stage 3 restrictions, which constrain residents from leaving the house unless they are shopping for food or supplies, caregiving, exercising, or studying or working.
Australia is currently struggling with record rates of unemployment – at 7.4% in June, unemployment is at its highest in 22 years. In response, the Australian government has cashed out AUD 2 billion (USD 1.4 billion) to retrain and upskill its workforce, which was announced last Thursday.
This has been introduced alongside the JobKeeper Payment scheme, a temporary subsidy for businesses significantly affected by COVID-19. The scheme enables eligible employers to receive AUD 1500 (USD 1048) per employee per fortnight.
The government has also pledged a further AUD 1.5 billion (USD 1 billion) to the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy, extending eligibility to medium-sized businesses. Firms with under 200 employees will now be able to apply for a 50% wage subsidy for any apprentices hired on or before 1 July 2020. The scheme has been extended until March 2021.
Australia will reveal its first economic and fiscal update since the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday. “Failing confidence amid concerns about ‘second waves’ will surely prompt the government to confirm a set of policy initiatives that will extend its stimulatory stance although there will be a significant wind-down of that stimulus,” Westpac Chief Economist Bill Evans speculated.