The following information has been circulated to PAC Australia Members and is now being made publicly available.
This page will be kept up to date as new information becomes available.
You can also visit our COVID-19 Resources page for useful or interesting links and materials to assist you or your organisation.
The Treasury’s announcement of JobKeeper packages will come as a relief for some employers and employees.
Refer to the information on our COVID-19 Resources page for full details on the package and how it may impact you or your organisation.
The Prime Minister and Treasurer have announced a $130 billion wage subsidy – the JobKeeper payment. Eligible employers will receive a payment of $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee.
While this is not a sector-specific package, it does respond to some of the priorities outlined in last Friday’s industry letter.
The payment applies to full time, part time and casual staff but conditions apply, including demonstrating a reduction in revenue of 30% or more since 1 March. Self-employed people are also eligible for the payment. Payments will commence in May, but will be backdated to March.
You can register for updates on the JobKeeper payment here.
Effective midnight, 30 March 2020, indoor and outdoor gatherings will be limited to two people (previously the maximum gathering size was 10 people). Note the legal enforcement of the two-person limit is on a state by state basis, but the previous limits have been subject to penalties for infringements.
Update 22/3/2020 1900 AWST
FUNDING SUPPORT AND ADVOCACY
The support measures for small businesses and workers announced by the Prime Minister today will provide some relief for our casual labour force and sole traders through income support payments, however further immediate, sector-specific support packages are vital to make a material difference to the ongoing sustainability of arts organisations around the country.
We also recognise that the support measures announced today specifically for business may not be accessible for many of our venue-members in particular, depending on your management structure and we are making that case to government.
Alongside our specific media release, you will have likely seen the media statement issued by the LPA on Friday and counter-signed by other peak organisations including PAC Australia which was accompanied by a proposed relief package. The package has since been updated and we will continue to aggressively pursue the implementation of this package alongside our colleagues in our ongoing communications and meetings with government.
The Hon Paul Fletcher, Minister for Communications, Cyber-Safety and the Arts issued this media release today. We specifically note the following:
In addition to these economy wide measures, both the Australia Council and the Office for the Arts have been given discretion under Commonwealth Grant Rules to provide reporting and other grant condition relief to organisations with existing Australian Government funding arrangements. These include:
- Removing requirements on meeting audience KPIs
- Bringing forward payments
- Delaying or removing reporting requirements
- Varying the purposes and outcomes of funding
- Extending timelines for projects
- Allowing organisations to use money provided for a deliverable to be repurposed to pay essential bills such as wages, rent or utilities.
More information on support announced today: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus
UPDATE ON PUBLIC GATHERING CLOSURES
As per the Prime Minister’s media conference this evening (Sunday) the national cabinet has determined that other public spaces must now close as a means to enforce social distancing. We’re including this notice for the information of members who operate or are co-located with such venues – these include cinemas, indoor sporting venues, places of worship, registered and licenced pubs and clubs, and casinos. Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to take-away service only. These measures come into effect from midday, Monday 23rd March.
The state-by-state legislation on public mass gatherings as at Friday afternoon is provided here. Please bear in mind there will likely be continual adjustments based on ongoing developments.
MESSAGE FROM OZ CO CEO, ADRIAN COLLETTE, FRIDAY 20 MARCH
“This week we have seen our cultural and creative sectors suffer enormous damage as a result of the unfolding COVID-19 crisis that has seen public gatherings, performances and exhibitions cancelled. Hundreds of thousands of arts workers have had significant negative impacts to their immediate and future livelihoods, not to mention the many thousands more employed in related industries driven so strongly by the arts, such as tourism.
Many of you are anxious for news about what support can be offered.
We are doing everything that we can at this time to assist a coordinated approach across all areas of the arts.
We have continued to work at speed to provide advice, information and data to the Office for the Arts and the Minister’s Office to inform the Australian government’s response.
We are also rapidly reframing how the Australia Council’s programs can support the cultural and creative sectors in these unprecedented times. We will share the outcomes of this work as soon as this work is finalised.
It has been enormously important to hear from so many of you and witness great acts of organising and solidarity, including many creative responses to make people feel included at a time of social distancing. In these stressful times, our sector continues to be extraordinary.”
Update 18/3/2020 1000 AWST
- The Prime Minister has this morning announced that public, indoor, non-essential mass-gatherings must now be limited to 100 people, effective immediately. The pre-existing ban restricting mass outdoor gatherings to 500 people will remain in place.
- The Human Biosecurity Emergency declared by the national security committee gives the government the power to enforce quarantine measures. The states are again tasked with implementing the restrictions, so updates to existing bans in place will be advised.
- The PM’s stated this morning to expect “six months of disruption.”
More info to come when we have it.
- Confirming the information available on state-by-state bans of gatherings of more than 500 people (huge thanks to LPA – Live Performance Australia for providing some of this information and their associated efforts in researching and collating).
NSW The New South Wats Public Health (COVID-19 Public Events) Order 2020 directs that a person must not hold a public event at which there are, or are likely to be, 500 or more in attendance at any one time. This is effective March 16 2020 until midnight 14 June 2020. Further details
QLD Non-essential organised gatherings should not go ahead from March 16, 2020 – it currently stands as a precautionary measure. Further details
SA A Public Health Emergency has been declared, but no specific directions on mass gatherings have been advised.
VIC The Victorian Governments declared State of Emergency is effective noon 16 March 2020 until midnight 13 April 2020. The first direction under this state of emergency is to ban non-essential mass gatherings of over 500 people. Further details
WA The WA Government has announced a Public Health Emergency on January 29 2020 and a State of Emergency from 15 March 2020 with no end date known. All non-essential organised gatherings of 500 or more people are banned. Further details. WA have also introduced their own economic stimulus package to support businesses and individuals: Further details.
TAS The Tasmanian Government has announced a Public Health Emergency effective 15 March 2020; however, specific details about mass gatherings are not yet known.
ACT The government has announced a public health emergency effective 16 March 2020. This includes a requirement that non-essential mass gatherings of more than 500 people should not occur.
NT The NT Government has advised that static non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people will be prevented indefinitely.
- Australian Tax Office support measures
Thank you to the LPA for supplying this information.
The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has announced it will implement a series of administrative measures to assist Australians experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Options available to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19 include:
- Deferring by up to four months the payment date of amounts due through the business activity statement (including PAYG instalments), income tax assessments, fringe benefits tax assessments and excise
- Allowing businesses on a quarterly reporting cycle to opt into monthly GST reporting in order to get quicker access to GST refunds they may be entitled to
- Allowing businesses to vary Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalment amounts to zero for the March 2020 quarter. Businesses that vary their PAYG instalment to zero can also claim a refund for any instalments made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters
- Remitting any interest and penalties, incurred on or after 23 January 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities
- Helping affected businesses pay their existing and ongoing tax liabilities by allowing them to enter into low interest payment plans.
Anyone impacted by COVID-19 is advised to contact the ATO to request assistance on their Emergency Support Infoline 1800 806 218, when they are ready, to discuss their situation.
Public Health Information
While the federal government has enacted its Health Sector Emergency Response Plan and just this morning announced a significant funding package to support state health departments, there has not yet been specific advice or interventions with regard to performances or events. You may wish to review the health department’s resource for employers.
The World Health Organisation have issued interim guidance on Mass Gatherings within the context of the current outbreak as a supplement to their (much longer) general guide to public health at mass gatherings (2015).
Plenty of information is available on good hygiene practices to help slow the spread. Here’s the best we’ve found, again from WHO.
Specific to arts gatherings in Australia*
Respondents to the LPA’s Ticketing Code of Practice should note:
- You are not required to provide a refund if consumers do not wish to attend an event due to fear of exposure to coronavirus, though you may wish to provide refunds on a discretionary basis.
- You should provide refunds or an exchange to any customer who may have recently returned from China, South Korea or Iran and have been advised to remain at home.
As per usual trading conditions, ticketholders are entitled to an automatic refund if an event is cancelled (when the ticket is purchased from an authorised seller) or rescheduled and the customer doesn’t want to attend at the rescheduled time/location.
You’ll find a copy of the current industry and consumer versions of the LPA Ticket Code of Practice on our resources page.
*Thank you to the LPA for providing this advice (email, Evelyn Richardson, 2/3/2020)
We’d recommend all members take the opportunity to ensure you have clear event cancellation policies in place, not only for ticketholders, but also within your hire/presenter contracts. You may also wish to check/clarify Force Majeure, event cancellation and non-appearance clauses directly with your insurance broker.
Risk Management Plan
Arts Centre Melbourne have generously shared their Risk Management Plan, which you may also find useful. You can download it here.
- Theatre Communications Group have scheduled a free webinar for Friday 6 March, 2020. The webinar contains content about “immediate operational steps theatres can take”.
- UPDATE: A recording of the webinar is available here.
- The Event Safety Alliance have delivered an event-specific “Preparing your organisation for the coronavirus outbreak” webinar. The recording is available here.
Finally, these articles may come in handy if you find yourself or your team needing to work from home to avoid catching or spreading the virus (or the flu, or even a case of the Mondays):
- The best tools and apps for remote working
- How to manage a remote team
- How to set up a working-from-home environment