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Crown exemption from coronavirus social distancing rules revoked

It is unclear whether the revocation of its exemption from coronavirus rules means Melbourne’s Crown casino will have to shut its doors today for the first time since it was forced to close for a few days during anti-World Economic Forum protests in 2000.

The casino has been allowed to keep half of its poker machines operating under an exemption from social distancing rules granted by the Victorian chief health officer – a decision that enraged public health officials. Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton may provide more information when he faces the media later today.

Closure would be a devastating blow to employment in Melbourne – the group employs at least 6000 people at the casino, and some 18,500 people in total.
Victoria’s decision also puts pressure on the governments of Western Australia, where Crown also has a casino, and New South Wales, where rival Star operates, to follow suit.

Crown shares have been in a trading halt since lunchtime on Friday, when the company said it was in “discussions” with Sutton over its trading conditions.
But this was before prime minister Scott Morrison dramatically beefed up social distancing rules in the afternoon by limiting the number of people inside a venue to one every 4sq m.

Crown has been contacted for comment.





































Victoria economic package announced for businesses










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Be strong, be kind, NZ prime minister urges

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern has asked New Zealanders to restrict their movements around the country, and cancel all non-essential domestic travel.

Ardern also asked those aged 70 and over, or with a compromised immune system to stay home for the foreseeable future.

Those who could work from home should now do so, Ardern said, but reassured Kiwis that essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies would remain open. There are four alert levels in New Zealand, and the country was currently at stage two.

Ardern took a warm and smiley demeanour for her address, in a bid to reassure New Zealanders in “unprecedented times”. Fourteen new cases of the virus were confirmed today, bringing the total number of cases to 53. Two of the cases show no link to overseas travel, meaning community transmission may now be under way.

“Protecting New Zealanders from the virus is our number one objective, and we must take decisive action to prevent the worst occurring here,” Ardern said.

“New Zealand is fighting an unprecedented global pandemic. We must fight by going hard and going early with new measures to slow the transmission of the virus.”

“These measures are being taken in the national interest. We know people, business, and sports events will be impacted, but these are short-term disruptions for the overall health of our people and country.

“I know many New Zealanders are anxious. The alert system is designed to offer certainty around future action and the ability for people to plan and prepare for any future eventuality. Please be strong, be kind, and unite against COVID-19,” Ardern said.

RNZ
(@radionz)

#BREAKING Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced an alert system to manage the Covid-19 outbreak. https://t.co/UiCjKpenyk


March 20, 2020

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