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Coronavirus in New South Wales: Financial help and advice

Learn about the latest updates on school and business closures across the state, plus advice on where to seek help.

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warningWe’re working hard to provide the latest information on government announcements, stimulus packages and support for Australians across the country. However, the situation is developing constantly, so always check your local state’s government website for more details.

Overview of first NSW stimulus package

On 17 March, the NSW government announced a $2.3 billion stimulus package, with a big focus on increased funding for the health sector and tax relief for local businesses.

$700 million funding boost for NSW Health to help with:

  • Doubling intensive care unit (ICU) capacity
  • Increased COVID-19 testing
  • Buying more medical equipment, particularly ventilators
  • Setting up temporary clinics
  • Speeding up elective surgeries in private hospitals so the hospitals have more capacity to treat COVID-19 patients over the next six months
  • $1.6 billion to provide tax relief for businesses and keep people in jobs

The rest of the stimulus package looks at supporting businesses and jobs:

  • $450 million towards waiving payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million until the end of the financial year (30 June 2020).
  • $56 million to bring forward the next round of payroll tax cuts by raising the threshold limit to $1 million in 2020-21.
  • $250 million to employ more cleaners for public transport, public spaces and schools.
  • Over $750 million to speed up maintenance plans for public buildings and capital works projects, keeping more people working.
  • $80 million will be used to waive a range of fees and charges for restaurants, cafes and bars (it's not yet clear which fees will be waived).

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Overview of second NSW stimulus package

A second $1 billion economic stimulus package was announced on 27 March, this time with a focus on keeping businesses afloat, as well as supporting vulnerable groups in our society.

The following measures aim to keep people in jobs and give businesses a helping hand during the pandemic:

  • $1 billion towards a new Working for NSW fund to support businesses, create new jobs and retrain employees. The amount will be comprised of $750 million in new funding, together with the $250 million announced in the first stimulus package for additional cleaning services.
  • Deferral of payroll tax for six months for businesses with payrolls over $10 million (deferrals of up to $4 billion allowed). Businesses who have had their payroll tax waived from the previous package will now also get an additional three month deferral.
  • Deferral of gaming tax (for clubs, pubs and hotels) and lotteries tax for six months, based on the condition that that those funds are then used to retain staff.
  • Deferral of parking space levy for six months.
  • Deferral of rent for six months for commercial tenants in Government-owned properties with less than 20 employees.

There will also be additional spending to help look after Australians who may be struggling:

  • $34 million boost in funding to prevent homelessness.
  • $30 million to boost the Energy Accounts Payments Assistance Scheme.
  • $10 million to support charities, with an additional $6 million funding for Lifeline's operations in NSW.

Overview of third NSW stimulus package

A third economic subsidy was announced on 30 March, referred to as the Jobseeker Payment. As part of the $130 billion package, around six million employees will receive $1,500 per fortnight via their employer. The aim of the payment is to ensure eligible employers and employees stay connected while some businesses move into hibernation.

  • The payment will open to eligible businesses who are significantly impacted by coronavirus
  • It will provide around 70% of the national median wage
  • The payment is subject to a partner income test but this has been temporarily relaxed. Eligible employees are able to receive the payment provided their partner earns less than $80,000 per year. Previously this threshold was just $48,000.

For more information on the payment click here.

Other financial guides:

Need more information on how to access financial help and relief during the ongoing coronavirus crisis?

  • Finder's COVID-19 financial help guide provides an overview on how banks, insurers and energy providers are stepping up to provide help to customers during the crisis
  • If you've lost your job due to COVID-19 or you're concerned about unemployment, find out where to seek financial assistance here.
  • Your small business may be eligible for government grants as part of the national stimulus package. Find out how it might affect you here.

What's the current advice and what does it mean?

NSW (along with the rest of Australia) continues to update its enforcement measures to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Below is a summary of the key details.

As of 31 March, 2020, NSW residents can receive a fine of up to $11,000 and face six months jail for leaving the house without a reasonable excuse. They may receive a further fine of $5,500 for each day the offence continues. These restrictions are to remain in place until late June, 2020.

Examples of a reasonable excuse include:

      • Leaving the house to buy food or visit essential services
      • Travelling to work or a place of education
      • Exercise
      • Medical or caring reasons

Residents must gather in a public place with more than two people. This excludes people who live in the same household or gatherings that are essential for work or education.

Businesses

.The NSW government has confirmed the shutdown of all non-essential services by 25 March 2020. This includes the below:

      • Pubs and clubs (excluding attached bottle shops), plus hotels (excluding accommodation)
      • Gyms and indoor sporting venues
      • Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, tattoo parlours
      • Spas and massage parlours
      • Health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre and spin facilities, saunas, bathhouses and wellness centres
      • Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos and nightclubs
      • Restaurants and cafes are restricted to takeaway and/or delivery only
      • Religious gatherings, places of worship and funerals in enclosed spaces
      • Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, community facilities

There are also restrictions on the following:

      • Food courts inside shopping centres (takeaway permitted)
      • Auction houses, real estate auctions and open house inspections
      • Boot camps, personal training operating outside and inside (outside events are limited to groups of no more than 2 people)
      • Weddings are restricted to couples, the celebrant and witnesses (no more than 5 people)
      • Funerals have been restricted to no more than 10 people
      • Aussies can now only gather in groups of two, or with household members
      • As of midnight 30 March 2020, NSW residents may receive a $1,000 on-the-spot fine or face jail time for breaching the new laws or leaving the house without a reason

Essential services are to remain open. This includes supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, convenience stores, freight and logistics and home delivery services. From 25 March 2020, supermarkets and pharmacies in NSW were also allowed to operate 24/7.

As of 31 March, 2020, businesses that fail to comply with Government direction will be liable to a fine of $55,000 and $27,500 each day the offence continues

Schools

Schools across NSW remain open but parents are encouraged to keep their children at home where possible.

Online learning will take place until the NSW school term ends on Thursday 9 April. This is to ensure students are doing the same work whether they're at home or school. The government has advised that anyone who is sick with flu-like symptoms (even mild ones) should not attend school, universities or childcare.

Tafe

Tafe NSW will be suspended as of Monday 30 March through to 27 April 2020. Students returning after this date have been advised that most of their learning will take place online.

Organisations, workplaces and employers

Organisations and employers have been advised to start taking actions to limit the spread of COVID-19 where possible. This includes the following:

      • Consider if any upcoming events can be cancelled, postponed or reduced in size or frequency
      • Cancel non-essential activities like business travel, study visits, extra-curricular activities and sporting events
      • Encourage flexible working arrangements like working from home and off-peak travel
      • Ensure high standards of cleaning
      • Ensure hand sanitiser is available at entrances to buildings and maintain a high cleaning standard

Overview of current travel limitations in place

Border restrictions

The NSW border remains open for now. Residents are encouraged to reconsider their need for unnecessary travel.

Under the national guidelines, travel to school, to workplaces and to shops to buy staples are all considered essential, as is travel on compassionate grounds or for emergencies. The use of public transport for school or work is also considered essential.

Public transport

There is no recommendation for NSW residents to stop using public transport at this time. Under the national guidelines, the use of public transport for work or school or to purchase staples is considered essential.

If you do choose to use public transport, make sure you practise the following:

      • Plan ahead, and travel off-peak where possible
      • Avoid touching doors and railings
      • Use Opal and contactless payments where possible
      • Regularly wash hands and use hand sanitiser
      • Stay home if you're unwell

Overseas travellers

From 29 March 2020, travellers returning from overseas will need to be quarantined in appointed hotels for 14 days, regardless of their place of residence. This means that travellers arriving in NSW will be given health checks before being taken by bus to a selected hotel. They will then be monitored by authorities to ensure that they are following the quarantine measures in place, and will also be given treatment if they become unwell. Travellers will be provided with essential food and care packages during their isolation.

All overseas travellers who have arrived in NSW before 29 March must self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to Australia. If you've recently returned home to NSW, it's important to limit contact with other people to avoid the potential spread of the virus. For more information on how to self-isolate after returning from overseas, click here.

Recently got off a plane? You should monitor your flight for the next 14 days to ensure there aren't any reported cases of COVID-19 after landing. The NSW government is recording all flights with known COVID-19 cases here.

Where to go for help

NSW 24-hour COVID-19 hotline: 13 77 88

On 26 March 2020, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the Services NSW hotline would be available 24/7 to help provide individuals, families and businesses with information and resources about the current coronavirus situation. This includes updates on restrictions and social distancing measures, cost of living support and financial support options for businesses.

COVID-19 testing

NSW Health has advised that anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms who has recently returned from overseas or been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case should get tested. The most common symptoms include:

      • Coughing, sore throat or fatigue
      • Fever
      • Difficulty breathing

Unsure about your symptoms? Visit healthdirect's symptom checker for more information.

Testing samples can be taken directly by your doctor, or at a range of private pathology sites and public hospitals across NSW. For a full list of COVID-19 testing locations in NSW, click here.

Contact the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 for more information.

Mental health

These are uncertain times, and it's normal to feel apprehensive or scared. But if COVID-19 is impacting your mental health, you don't have to go through it alone. If you're anxious about being in isolation or have concerns for a loved one, contact one of the services below or speak to your GP.

      • Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14

A crisis support service that provides short-term support at any time for people who are having difficulty coping or staying safe.

      • Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

A free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25 years.

      • NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511

Mental health crisis telephone service in NSW. This service also offers 24/7 support.

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