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Updates on COVID-19 Efforts in Victoria, Melbourne

State of Emergency Extension

The Victorian Government declared a state of emergency in the whole state of Victoria last March 16 to combat the invisible enemy that is COVID-19. The fight that’s been going on is on a worldwide scale. This is also to help the Chief Health Officer to enforce everything necessary to make the whole situation work for everyone’s safety, especially for the travelers. The declaration was made by Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos and it was meant to be four weeks. However, an extension has been declared recently.

The state of emergency would still go on for the next four weeks in the state of Victoria for the protection of everyone. The extension would be until May 11, 2020, continuing the measures established to flatten the curve. Under the state of emergency, some precautions are strictly implemented such as restrictions to enter premises or even detention if necessary to prevent the spread of the virus. The strict enforcement will continue to make sure that everyone is protected.

New Funding to Fight the Virus

The Victorian Government has announced that an additional $24.5 billion emergency funding will be provided not just to combat COVID-19, but to support those who were affected as well. This additional fund will aid in supporting jobs and the state to recover from COVID-19 for the next two years. Specifically, these funds are allotted to pay for the wages of health workers and other public sector staff. There has been an evident fall of unemployment, however, it is expected to spike in the next couple of months. This is one of the main reasons why additional funding is essential to the recovery of the state, so the response swift which could save so many lives and livelihood.

Treasurer Tim Pallas notes, “Following years of strong economic management, Victoria can respond to this pandemic to protect Victoria’s health system, save lives and support workers, businesses, and their families.”

Tenants and Landlord Support During Pandemic

In line with the National Cabinet’s decision to support tenants and landlords, reformed tenancy laws for residential and commercial properties are approved. Some reforms are as follows:

  • A temporary ban on evictions

  • Six months’ pause on rental increase

  • Land tax relief for both tenants and landlords that are especially facing financial hardship

It has come to the government’s attention that some certain tenants and landlords struggle to come to an agreement regarding the terms, they have the option to seek the help of the Consumer Affairs Victoria or the Victorian Small Business Commission. These two commissions will act as mediators to ensure a fair deal. The government also provides $420 million in land tax relief that will definitely encourage landlords to hold the proper conversation with their tenants. According to this tax relief, “If a landlord provides tenants impacted by coronavirus with rent relief, they will be eligible for a 25 percent discount on their land tax, while any remaining land tax can be deferred until March 2021.”

In correlation to the mandatory code of conduct as implemented by the National Cabinet for commercial tenancies, small and medium-sized businesses are said to be granted rental waivers and deferrals that will be legislated urgently.

As stated by the minister of Small Business Adem Somyurek, “This support will help small businesses keep their doors open, keep employing and keep driving the state’s economy.”

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