News Article

Australia’s ‘losing US$ 2.5 billion a week’ during virus lockdown

Every week its virus lockdown continues, Australia’s economy is losing AUD 4 billion (USD 2.5 billion), with a million people having already lost their jobs during the crisis, according to figures recently reported.

The country has experienced success in curbing COVID-19’s spread, with new daily cases dwindling to single digits or zero in most regions.

But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it was a heavy blow to the economy with the limitations on travel and gatherings designed to prevent the virus spreading.

“For each additional week that the existing constraints remain in effect, the Treasury calculates that close to AUD$4 billion in economic activity will be reduced as a result of a combination of decreased work engagement, reduced productivity and reduced consumption,” he said in a Canberra speech.

It came when the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) announced a 7.5 per cent decrease in employment which is equal to about one million people out of some 13 million working employees.

Among the worst-affected is the hotel and restaurant industry, a majority of staff lost their jobs, along with 27 per cent of employees in the arts and recreation industries.

Because of the coronavirus lockdowns, the Treasury has previously projected the unemployment rate will rise to ten per cent by the middle of the year, leaving around 1.4 million workers out of a job.

The ABS has also reported that 31 per cent of households throughout the country have seen their finances worsen.

Frydenberg said the numbers showed Australia “must get people back into jobs, and we’ve got to get them back to work,” but the nation had only reached 11 of the 15 health conditions on removing restrictions, though progress was underway to monitor the remaining four rapidly.

Among those is broader adoption of the government’s contact tracing application, COVIDSafe, which has been downloaded by almost five million mobile users to date.

More than 6,800 COVID-19 cases and 96 deaths have been reported in Australia. Despite the improvement in some areas of the country, significant clusters of cases at a Melbourne abattoir and Sydney nursing home have arisen.

The states and territories of Australia have slowly started to relax some of the constraints imposed to curb the disease, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that more measures could be made later this week.

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