Trending Financial News 16 March 2020

Woolworths opens – for elderly and vulnerable ONLY

“There is enough for everyone” announced Coles Supermarkets this weekend as panic buying gripped Australia.

Woolworths has announced that it will open its supermarkets for elderly and vulnerable customers only between 7 and 8am each day from Tuesday 14th march “until at least Friday.”

The move comes after a weekend of chaos and violence in retail outlets throughout Australia as shoppers engaged in panic buying.

Yesterday Police arrested and charged a man with common assault after a violent brawl at the checkouts at Woolworths Bass Hill Plaza in Sydney.

“We’re launching a dedicated shopping hour in our stores to help support the needs of the elderly & people with disability in the community,” tweeted @Woolworths this morning.

“From tomorrow until at least Friday, we’ll be opening exclusively for them to shop from 7-8am, where permitted.”

Coles asked customers to treat its staff with respect and shop “as they normally shop.”

“There is enough for everyone if people shop as they normally shop.

“Please be kind to our team members.”

Fines for travellers who don’t isolate

Australian returning travellers and foreign visitors arriving in Australia face big fines and police action if they don’t socially isolate for 14-days.

Australia is effectively going into ‘lockdown’ to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews has declared a state of emergency in Victoria in response to the spreading Coronavirus, effective from 12:00 noon 13th March 2020. The state of emergency runs for four weeks but is likely to be extended said the premier this morning.

The state of emergency declaration under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act will remain in place “for as long as it needs to be” said Mr Andrews. The declaration creates a range of offences for people and organisations who do not follow health advice in relation to the Coronavirus.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a strict ban on large public gatherings and warned organisers they face fines and jail time for disobeying the government's emergency measures.

Coronavirus Update – Australia 13 March 2020

Two elderly women have died in Sydney from the coronavirus overnight, taking Australia’s coronavirus death toll to five. Currently in Australia (13 March 2020) the numbers of confirmed Coronavirus cases has grown to 313.

State-by-state Coronavirus numbers in Australia are (16 March 2020) are:

NSW: 134 confirmed coronavirus cases. There are 1,924 unconfirmed cases in NSW being investigated.

Victoria: 71 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Queensland: 61 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

South Australia: 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Western Australia: 17 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Tasmania: 7 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

ACT: 2 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Northern Territory: 1 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Are you in financial hardship because of coronavirus?

If you find yourself in financial hardship as a result of losing income or being unable to meet your debt repayments after contracting or being exposed to coronavirus, or being unable to attend work or in any other way connected to coronavirus, you may be eligible to claim financial hardship assistance from your bank or lender.

Get all the information and contact information you need to claim financial hardship from your bank at InfoChoice.

Scott Morrison’s Coronavirus economic stimulus package

6.5 million Australians will get $750 paid directly into their bank account in the Centrelink payment cycle starting 31 March 2020.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $17.63 billion package of cash payments to low income earners, grants to businesses, fee waivers, wage subsidies for apprentices and other measures to alleviate the financial impact of the spreading coronavirus.

Casual workers can get instant access to Centrelink’s Jobseeker (Sickness) payment without waiting periods.

Read more about Scott Morrison’s coronavirus assistance package at InfoChoice.

What is in Scott Morrison’s economic stimulus package for business?

Here is a brief list of measures to assist business in Scott Morrison’s economic stimulus package announced on Friday 13 March 2020.

Casual workers can get instant access to sickness benefit

Wage assistance up to $21K for apprentices and trainees.

Increasing the Instant Asset Write Off limit from $30,000 to $150,000.

Grants of up to $25,000 for 690,000 small and medium businesses, paid through the tax office to businesses with less than $50 million turnover. Details of this is yet to be finalised.

$1 billion Coronavirus fund for businesses in regional and remote areas and areas most affected by coronavirus.

Waiver of fees and charges for tourism businesses in marine parks and support from Austrade for tourism.

Read more about the government’s coronavirus assistance package at InfoChoice.

Centrelink slashes deeming rate on savings and investments

Centrelink has cut pensioner deeming rates following RBA interest rate cuts and the low rates being paid by banks on term deposits and savings accounts.

The deeming rate for the first $51,800 of financial assets is now 1%pa for singles and 3%pa over $51,800.

For couples the deeming rate is 1%pa on the first $86,200 of combined financial assets and 3%pa over that.

Read more about Centrelink’s deeming rate at InfoChoice.

Compare savings account rates at InfoChoice and keep up to date with the best savings rates at InfoChoice.

Massive emergency rate cut in the USA

Just a fortnight after the last big interest rate cut, the US Federal Reserve has cut rates again, by 1.5 percentage points to just 0.25%.

The United Kingdom’s central banker, the Bank of England, also cut interest rates last week to 0.25%.

The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to follow suit in April with another rate cut of 0.25 percentage points to 0.25%.

Futures markets traded all week at a price indicating a 100% expectation of a RBA rate cut in April.

Bitcoin crash may be over

The price of Bitcoin has fallen over the last week by 31% and is now trading (on Monday 16 March 2020) at A$9,054.

Over the last day, the Bitcoin price is up 3% after a very strong rally on Monday morning, Australian time. The chart below of the latest Bitcoin price is from Coinbase.com. Keep up date with the latest news and outlook for cryptocurrency prices at InfoChoice.

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