Coronavirus COVID-19 WA stimulus package to freeze household fees and charges as 10 new cases recorded – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Coronavirus COVID-19 WA stimulus package to freeze fees and as 10 new cases recorded

Updated

March 16, 2020 18:02:58

WA Premier Mark McGowan has announced all household fees and charges — including electricity, water and vehicle registration — will be frozen as part of a major economic relief package to tackle the COVID-19 emergency, as the state reports a dramatic spike in new cases.

Key points:

Mr McGowan said 10 new cases of coronavirus had been confirmed since Sunday.

It was the biggest one-day jump in cases and brought the total number of diagnosed cases in the state from 18 to 28, including one death.

He said the new cases all resided in the Perth metropolitan area.

“The advice I is it’s not community spread at this time,” Mr McGowan said.

Nine of the cases originated from overseas but the origin of one case was unknown.

One patient has been admitted to hospital in a serious but stable condition.

Mr McGowan said one of the cases reported recently returning from Hawaii.

“Two cases are healthcare workers, there are two sets of linked husband/wife cases,” he said.

There have been 5,878 negative tests conducted in WA to date.

Stimulus package targets households, pensioners

The stimulus package announced today by the WA Government will be worth a total of $607 million.

It will mean electricity, water, motor vehicle charges, the emergency services levy and public transport fares in the state will not increase until at least July 2021, at a cost to the Government of $402 million.

“For the first time in 16 years all household fees and charges will be frozen, providing relief and certainty to each and every West Australian,” Mr McGowan said.

“Previously the budget included an increase of $127 or 2 per cent in fees and charges, which was the estimated inflation rate for 2020–21.

“By keeping everything frozen that will cost the budget $402 million.”

Additionally, the Energy Assistance Payment — a rebate given to concession card holders — will be doubled to $600 to help seniors in particular.

Small, medium business boost

The Premier said another $114 million would be spent on measures to help small and medium-sized business.

Mr McGowan said 7,400 businesses a payroll between $1 million to $4 million would benefit from the grants.

The State Government would also “fast-track” its payroll tax relief for small businesses by six months.

“Following on from the payroll tax cut we introduced last January, the next round of payroll tax cuts will be brought forward by six months to July 1,” Mr McGowan said.

“Businesses impacted by the coronavirus will also be able to defer payroll tax payments until at least July 21, 2020.”

Some 11,000 West Australian businesses are expected to benefit from the measures.

“It’s this relief and certainty that can help give West Australians the confidence to continue to spend and support our local economy,” Mr McGowan said.

In a separate measure, eligible businesses will also receive a one-off grant of $17,500.

WA in a ‘state of emergency’

Mr McGowan said the measures would provide relief to West Australian families, seniors and business owners.

“These are extraordinary times that require extraordinary measures,” he said.

“We are in a state of emergency in Australia.

“We not only need to deal with the health consequences of the coronavirus, but we also need to deal with the economic impacts as well.

“As a responsible Government we must respond and we must provide certainty to both businesses and to households.”

Your questions on coronavirus answered:

The WA Government will also provide 20 days of paid COVID-19 for state public sector workers, including casual workers.

It will include cover anyone who has contracted COVID-19, anyone who needs to care for someone with the virus or who is required to self-isolate, or who cannot access schools or other care arrangements.

New regime for sick healthcare workers

WA Health Minister Roger Cook said the 10 people who tested positive today ranged in age from their 20s to their 70s.

He said the affected healthcare workers were not from general practice settings.

“Contract tracing is now in process not only in relation to those particular patients’ movements, but also their work colleagues and the people that they’ve been treating in that health care setting,” he said.

Mr Cook also announced new protocols for the testing of healthcare workers for COVID-19.

Any healthcare worker with a fever over 37.5 degrees and an acute respiratory illness will be treated as a suspect case.

“The Department will arrange for specific clinics for the healthcare workers to make sure that they can get tested in an appropriate setting,” Mr Cook said.

Mr Cook said WA’s first regional COVID clinic was being set up at Bunbury Hospital and would open later this week.

This content was originally published here.