Australian business leaders and regulators are trying everything in their power to prevent financial ruin from the coronavirus pandemic.
Dedicated shopping hours for people with disabilities, social distancing at casinos and emergency cash injections by regulators – Australian business is responding to the coronavirus pandemic in inventive ways.
COVID-19’s impact on Australia is changing daily life with gatherings of 500 people or more cancelled, panic buying at shops and travel bans.
The virus, which has caused greatest damage in China, Europe and the US, has spread to 249 people in Australia, according to the World Health Organisation. Five people in Australia have died.
Many employers have asked staff to work from home or take leave to limit their exposure.
Woolworths has introduced a dedicated shopping hour on Tuesday for the elderly and people with disabilities amid widespread panic buying of essential items.
Shoppers have stripped supermarkets of toilet paper, rice, pasta and other items, leaving those who are less mobile with little chance.
Crown Resorts is introducing “social distancing” at its Melbourne casino, with gamblers to be kept apart by every second gaming machine being switched off.
People will not be allowed to stand around seated gaming tables and player numbers at stand-up table games will be restricted to five.
Crown will limit the number of people at its banqueting and conference facilities to 450.
Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank on Monday pumped extra liquidity into the banking system as part of measures to ensure people have access to credit.
The RBA added $5.9 billion through regular repurchase agreements, well above its original intention of $2.5 billion.
That followed an injection of $8.8 billion on Friday.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has moved to halt volatile trading on the share market, limiting the number of trades in a day for some large participants.
ASIC said this would ensure Australian markets remained fair and orderly.
The Australian Securities Exchange, which operates the share market, asked about 20 staff members to isolate themselves after a Sydney employee tested positive for the virus on Saturday.
The market continues to trade with only core staff on site as a preventive measure.
A number of businesses on Monday have scrapped earnings guidance.