Richard Ferguson and Craig Johnstone today (23 May) published "Coronavirus Australia: Fifty-customer limit to see jobs flow again, providing 70,000 reasons to have a beer".
As said below, Australian mores will dominate social distancing when the public bars re-open. Former Premiers Kennett and Beatty are lambasting the slower-to-re-open States but that's all care and no responsibility.
Then American data show that there's a 10% chance the virus is moving through their rural areas which have not reported infections previously or recently.
I was perturbed by Premier Berejiklian’s statement on 27 April (among others)
As previously circulated in my note on the Riverina economy (below), I think it will not be possible to re-open the front bars of pubs and possibly beer gardens, as an example.
How many publicans don’t want to re-open - has anyone but me asked? At least 25%.
We have already seen large-scale breaches of distancing, at an increasing frequency, and friends greeting each other and the like in such places is inevitable.
There is such a high probability of the virus recrudescing over time and geographies, that further distancing will be imposed as
As in other areas, populist politicians have broken due diligence systems and interfered in matters of extreme importance but without transparency or accountability.
Note well that the Morrison Govt has not been held to account over, or been willing to repair:
The NCCC is excluded from “medical” issues, is this topic one of them? If yes, nonsense.
So the wise way is to look carefully at these poll results and repeat the survey here, as an essential precursor to lifting restrictions.
It is good to keep businesses ticking but not good to apply ideological band-aids instead of solid logic. Due diligence and the Uncertainty Principle are ignored by politicians.
Until this analyst started, there was no sign that regions were being considered except as locations containing holiday houses and caravan parks at the lockdown stage. My argument is that the regions have dynamic demographics and fluid populations, they cannot be ignored or squashed.
On 13 April the Government spotted regional anomalies and called for more regional testings but this was after this analyst pounded the gaps and errors. Could that be yet another plagiarism?
The political systems favour the primary conurbations and cannot see the regions – Labor and Coalition. Regional Independents have signed up with the Coalition Governments, in NSW at least (Wagga and Central Coast), while the epicurean Tin Soldiers who manage the Ministers are interested in the Blue Mountains or Bright but not Cobram, Bairnsdale or Corowa.
Understanding regions and SMEs together is probably beyond centralised governments, which is the message of UK Localism, but the task is real. For a start, the COVID-19 strategies are city-focussed, without realisation that city folk in Melbourne, more so than Sydney where it does happen, speed off to the regions whenever a long weekend looms. The Murray connects across central NSW and into Queensland (the Grey Nomad trek) as the above RMS map shows.
There is no sign that the NSW Government did any sums before it announced a $10,000 subsidy for SMEs which had lost 75% or more of their turnover.
NSW must pump its effort up to say $100,000 for it to be relevant - see below.
The regional reality, along the Murray River, is that towns and camping grounds are full to overflowing with strangers and friends so often that cross- and re-infection rates can be assumed to be real.
Accommodation and food services account for 12% of the workforce in Berrigan Shire, 11% in Echuca to the west, 7.5% in Moira (more rural and easterly) and 5% in Albury (more northerly), so the Murray zone is more vulnerable to travel restrictions than Shepparton and the like. 775 employees in Berrigan and Echuca alone are affected, with 369 in Albury (with many others to include when possible).
Do not think this is unimportant, even only in terms of establishments with 15 rooms or more, the Murray Region alone (113 properties, 3,613 rooms, without adding in the Victorian side) has 3 times more than the whole of the Blue Mountains/Lithgow/ Oberon (33 and 1,427), with the same ratio applying to the tres chicBright/Mount Beauty.
Moreover, there are no testing or checking facilities outside of the conurbations and when there are, there will be many absconders as at Manly…. Young people at least will be risk-takers and vectors for the virus for a while to come. The interaction with Melbourne hotspots is high.
Morrison’s first Corona stimulus package was announced on 12 March, the second on the 22nd. Pubs and clubs in NSW closed on 23 March, the last major trading being on Friday 20 March and Saturday the 21st. On those days, people from Melbourne were freely arriving in my regional town near the Murray River (a vigorous domestic tourism and recreational sporting corridor), for toilet paper raids, travel to holiday homes and caravan parks, and making whoopee.
On the Friday and Saturday, the public bars in pubs and clubs from Albury to Mildura along the Murray were packed check-to-jowl by strangers enjoying a vigorous social engagement for perhaps the last time for many months. They then returned to shops, churches, shared facilities in van parks and the like, free of care and proud of it.
Residents were fuming and the supermarket staff still are as they see holiday-home owners from Melbourne still arriving in town 3 weeks later. Moreover, parties in backyards are still happening and some residents are known to be staying stumm about infected relatives they are in contact with. Drivers are seeing no Police on long drives between towns, and NSW and Victoria have not closed the borders.
An Easter weekend blitz of Police checks of van movements and parks and holiday places is excellent but cannot be maintained, as has been shown.
There is no on-demand testing in the majority – if not any – of the towns, no face masks, no proper disinfecting wipes, not even instructions on how to make DIY cloth masks (the excellent guide from the WashPost was circulated by a citizen). GP surgeries and hospital beds are thin on the ground.
There are understandable murmurings in state and the national capitals (especially Sydney) about an early return to some form of open-social trading. The reality is, pubs and clubs are the mainstays of the regional town economies and they cannot be regarded as low-risk environments.
Could they open without public bars, with some enforcement of social distancing in dining rooms and garden settings, but with unaware staff, shared/public toilet facilities, shiny bar surfaces and metal door handles? Children running around, friends saying hi.
No way. While similar factors will be in play in the cities’ facilities, enforcement and education will be easier there while medical and enforcement facilities are plentiful.
There is an urgent need to re-open the tourism and food services trades, the Federal Wages subsidy will cover about 30% of business costs so won’t work if businesses fold permanently. Test and more testing where no testing is the rule has to become true reform.
Do not forget that the NSW and Federal Governments have undermined the Newcastle, Wollongong, South West and Western Sydney, and Inland Rail corridors through poor decisions and particularly the Turnbull/Kennedy planning idiocy, the WS City Deal.
This is a realpolitik scan of the issues that the mainstream media are not even aware of, driven by the real fear that the regional, grey nomad and retirement populations will harbour “disease and deaths” well past the “herd immunity” levels of tolerance in the cities, if it ever develops. Is there such a thing in towns of 3,000 and fewer, with high levels of spatial interaction between them and randomly back to the cities?
Morrison's delay of payments from 1 March to 1 May (2 months) cost Australia at least 1.4 million jobs unnecessarily (see other pages on this site).
70% of hospitality businesses have had to reduce staff hours, and there are substantial differences between large and small businesses - the latter are often family-based and will not all show up in business failure numbers.
Part of my suite is to dramatically improve the analysis and reporting of leading indicators and sensitivity test on factors that will influence targetted subsidies and tax and like changes. But we are not there yet. It's all BS til then - and the Governments have made so many mistakes, we can afford no more.
Nev Power of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission is said to have talked with the Caravan industry but there is no indication that NCCC understood real revival as in Newcastle before I started to push them (with copyrighted material).
Re-opening will not be easy and the American experience is that we cannot expect more than 1/8th of previous clientele levels coming back in the next few months - which is supposed to be the target timeframe.
So we have to push Berejiklian and Morrison to give higher, more effective grants in line with my options (c) so that businesses can prepare for and adjust to the new economy in the "in the months ahead" which is Power's obligation under his terms of reference.