Australia in lock down but for how long?

 

Empty streets and vacant cafes, Australia is in its third stage lock down. That means if you’re caught out and about, there’s only a handful of valid reasons to prevent a hefty on-the-spot fine. These include; travelling to work or school, exercise, buying food or travelling for medical care. The Public Health Order effectively restricted the movement and social gatherings of Australians with the help of police to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. In a remarkably short space of time, we went from packed shores at Bondi beach to empty streets and quiet neighbourhoods as everyone works from home.

That was three weeks ago. Fast forward to now and it seems to have paid off in spades with headlines reading “Australia could be out of COVID-19 lock down within weeks experts predict” and “The curve has flattened on their coronavirus rates, with fewer being infected”. At the time of writing, Australia has recorded 50+ deaths and 5,988 cases , putting it on the lower end of deaths and infections. Sure, the coast is not clear, but Scott Morrison did prevent what could have been an uncontrollable outbreak in new Coronavirus cases and putting us on track to flatten the curve.  There are only two countries that have significantly reduced the rate of infection, China and South Korea. So much so that Chinese Government tentatively relaxed lock down laws to help kick start its massive manufacturing and service industries. Concerns are however that the move is a little too soon, and with such a large population, there could be a “third wave” of infections. Norway, Denmark, Czech Republic and Austria have also announced plans to relax lock down restrictions. Either way, Australia is closely watching how thing will unfold worldwide.

In March, markets went into meltdown recording some of the largest falls seen since the GFC. The ASX 200 Index closed the month down 21.18% with every sector in the red. The Dow Jones closed -13.74%. European markets also recorded similar falls. Drilling down into each sector, Australian Energy stocks, REITs and Financials were hardest hit. Energy stocks fell to their lowest levels in 15 years as the Coronavirus forced motorists to stay at home, kept ships docked and aircraft grounded. A global oversupply of crude oil has the oil price near $20 a barrel causing Saudi Arabia and Russia to go head to head in all-out price war. On the positive side, the Coronavirus has created a remarkable reduction in air pollution with carbon emissions falling 25% as fewer cars and fewer factories bring about a potential health benefit.

What next?

The most hopeful outcome over the next 6-12 months is a vaccine and an anti-viral drug. The race is on. If it can be mass-produced and distributed, it could materially lower fatality rates and precipitate a shift in global risk sentiment.

  • Hope a vaccine will be developed within the next 6-12 months
  • Government will need to start repaying interest on its $573.1bn in debt
  • The stimulus measures have hopefully been successful in protecting jobs, expect consumer spending to rise and economic activity to lift. In turn producing more tax revenue

While the data modelling the spread of Coronavirus in Australia is positive, the virus is here to stay. Which means we’ll have to become immune after catching the infection or a vaccine needs to be developed to defeat the virus once and for all. With neither of the two around the corner, social distancing and isolating people with the virus remains the only form of attack. So as much as the Government loosens restrictions over the next 6 months, we might need to get used to lock downs and working from home.

The amount of information that is being provided to us surrounding COVID-19 on a daily basis can be quite overwhelming. Updates on infections, deaths, and even daily press conferences from the Australian Government. Some of us deal with situations of uncertainty by consuming as much content as possible to stay up to date, others try and block out all news content to avoid from overwhelming themselves. Regardless of how you choose to consume your media content, it’s important to stay in the loop about measures that could be implemented that affect your personal and professional life:

Below is a list of some links that will be helpful when staying up to date on all that’s happening through this global pandemic:

World-o-meter

World-o-meter Australia

ABC news broadcasting

Australian Government Health Officials

Updates for businesses

States and Territories information, grants and assistance

Information on ATO support