On 12 January, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, who had initially come to the attention of the WHO on 31 December 2019. On 3 March, the Reserve Bank of Australia became the first central bank to cut interest rates in response to the outbreak. Official interest rates were cut by 0.25% (25 base points) to a record low of 0.5%. On 12 March, the Federal Government announced a A$17.6 billion stimulus package, the first since the 2008 GFC. he package consists of multiple parts, a one-off A$750 payment to around 6.5 million welfare recipients as early as 31 March 2020, small business assistance with 700,000 grants up to $25,000 and a 50% wage subsidy for 120,000 apprenticies or trainees for up to 9 months, 1 billion to support economically impacted sectors, regions and communities, and $700 million to increase tax write off and $3.2 billion to support short-term small and medium-sized business investment. On 16 March, Premier Dan Andrews and Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos declared a state of emergency for Victoria for at least four weeks. On 19 March, the Reserve Bank again cut interest rates by a further 0.25% to 0.25%, the lowest in Australian history. On 22 March, the government announced a second stimulus package of A$66bn, increasing the amount of total financial package offered to A$89bn. This included several new measures like doubling income support for individuals on Jobseeker's allowance, granting A$100,000 to small and medium-sized businesses and A$715 million to Australian airports and airlines. It also allowed individuals affected by the outbreak to access up to A$10,000 of their superannuation during 2019–2020 and also being able to take an additional same amount for the next year. on the same day Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced on 22 March that the state will bring the school holiday forwards to 24 March from 27 March. On 30 March, the Australian Federal Government announced a $130 billion "JobKeeper" wage subsidy program offering to pay employers up to $1500 a fortnight per full-time, part-time or casual employee that has worked for that business for over a year. For a business to be eligible, they must have lost 30% of turnover after 1 March of annual revenue up to and including $1 billion. For businesses with a revenue of over $1 billion, turnover must have decreased by 50%. Businesses are then required by law to pay the subsidy to their staff, in lieu of their usual wages. This response came after the enormous job losses seen just a week prior when an estimated 1 million Australians lost their jobs. This massive loss in jobs caused the myGov website to crash and lines out of Centrelink offices to run hundreds of metres long.The program was backdated to 1 March, to aim at reemploying the many people who had just lost their jobs in the weeks before. Businesses would receive the JobKeeper subsidy for six months. On 2 April, the number of cases in Victoria exceeded 1,000, including over 100 healthcare workers. On 5 April, New South Wales Police launched a criminal investigation into whether the operator of Ruby Princess, Carnival Australia, broke the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cwth) and New South Wales state laws, by deliberately concealing COVID-19 cases. On 6 April, the Department of Health revealed that 2,432 people recovered from the infection as the federal government started reporting recovery statistics. This is more than a third from the official number reported so far, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly stating, "I think it is important. Firstly it really reinforces that message, which is a true one, that most people who get this disease do recover”. The day before, at 3pm, it was announced that 2,315 of the 5,687 confirmed coronavirus cases had recovered. May 2020 - An outbreak in Victoria at a meatworks that was later revealed to be Cedar Meats was announced on 02 May with eight cases. By 8 May, the cluster of cases linked to Cedar Meats in Victoria was 71, consisting of at least 57 workers and 13 close contacts, including a nurse, aged care worker and high school student. The number had increased to 75 by 9 May, 88 by 13 May, and 90 by 14 May. On 9 May, two Victorian cases were announced to be related to McDonald's Fawkner. By 18 May, this had increased to 12 cases, and on that day it was revealed that a delivery driver had tested positive, prompting the closing for cleaning of 12 more McDonald's locations: Melton East, Laverton North, Yallambie, Taylors Lakes, Campbellfield, Sunbury, Hoppers Crossing, Riverdale Village, Sandown, Calder Highway Northbound/Outbound, Calder Highway Southbound/Inbound, and BP Rockbank Service Centre Outbound. On 15 May, South Australia became the second jurisdiction, after the ACT, to be free of any active cases, however on 26 May, a woman returning from overseas who was granted exemption into South Australia from her hotel quarantine in Victoria tested positive for COVID-19. This was the first new case in 19 days for the state. On 4 June, it was announced that the woman had recovered and the state was free of any active cases once again. On 17 May, Victoria announced two further business sites had been shut down due to a suspected case at each. Domino's Pizza in Fairfield has been shut for two weeks, and mattress manufacturer The Comfort Group in Deer Park was closed from Friday 15 May to at least Wednesday 20 May. On 6 June, both New South Wales and Victoria reported no new cases for the previous 24 hours, with only Queensland and Western Australia reporting one new case each, the lowest national total since February. Western Australia also announced two old cases. However, the new case in Queensland was linked to the Rydges on Swanston cluster in Melbourne when a man who travelled from Melbourne to Brisbane on Virgin flight VA313 on 1 June tested positive.
Colour photographs of closure signs on the E.J Tippett Library due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and associated lock down and social distancing requirements.