PM announces moratorium on evictions, gatherings restricted to two persons only

PM announces moratorium on evictions, gatherings restricted to two persons only

Australian commercial and residential tenants impacted by Covid-19 have been given a six month reprieve as the country's total number of confirmed coronavirus cases creeps closer to 4,000.

The National Cabinet has agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for both commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.

The Government has encouraged landlords and financial institutions to collaborate with tenants on coming to an agreement to ensure businesses can make it to the other side of the coronavirus crisis.

A common set of principles, endorsed by the Federal and State Treasurers to guide these discussions includes:

  • A short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent to be applied across commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus;
  • tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease;
  • the reduction or waiver of rental payment for a defined period for impacted tenants;
  • the ability for tenants to terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress;
  • commercial property owners should ensure that any benefits received in respect of their properties should also benefit their tenants in proportion to the economic impact caused by coronavirus;
  • landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their lease and rental agreements; and
  • cost-sharing or deferral of losses between landlords and tenants, with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, local government and financial institutions to consider mechanisms to provide assistance.

The moratorium decision comes ahead of yet another stimulus package, expected to be announced by the Federal Government today.

As reported by the ABC, the scheme will include a new wage subsidy for businesses and workers impacted by the coronavirus. Businesses are expected to be paid up to $1,500 per fortnight, per employee, for the next six months.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the package will be an Australian-style system and will not mirror the approach taken by the United Kingdom whereby the Government is paying 80 per cent of businesses' wage bills. 

In addition the National Cabinet has restricted indoor and outdoor public gatherings yet again to two persons only.

Exceptions to this limit include:

  • People of the same household going out together (who together are able to meet with one person maximum);
  • Funerals (a maximum of 10 people);
  • Wedding (a maximum of 5 people);
  • Family units.

Playgrounds, skate parks and outside gyms in public places will be closed while bootcamps will be reduced to two persons, including the trainer.

In Australia there are now 3,966 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 1,791 in NSW, 769 in VIC, 656 in QLD, 311 in WA, 287 in SA, 77 in ACT, 61 in TAS, and 14 in NT.

$1.1 billion to supporting mental health and domestic violence services

The Federal Government has also announced $1.1 billion will be given to mental health, Medicare and domestic violence services.

"As we battle coronavirus on both the health and economic fronts with significant support packages in place and more to come, I am very aware many Australians are understandably anxious, stressed and fearful about the impacts of coronavirus and what it brings," said  Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

"We are focused on saving lives and saving livelihoods and this new support package will provide much needed care and help to so many Australians facing hardship at no fault of their own.

"We will get through this crisis by staying together, by supporting each other and ensuring that no Australian, even though we have to be isolated, should have to go through this alone."

Medicare-subsidised telehealth services for all Australians will be expanded by a $669 million cash injection to further encourage the population to stay home as much as possible.

The Federal Government hopes the funding will take the pressure off hospitals and emergency departments, and allow people to access essential health services at home.

Domestic violence services like 1800RESPECT and Mensline Australia will receive $150 million.

According to the Federal Government Google is seeing the highest magnitude of searches for domestic violence help that they have seen in the past five years with an increase of 75 per cent and some services are already reporting an increase in demand.

Updated at 9.58AM AEDT on 30 March 2020.


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