Australia’s Victoria declares disaster, sets curfew to curb COVID-19

first_img“The current rules have avoided thousands and thousands of cases each day, and then thousands of people in hospital and many more tragedies than we have seen. But it is not working fast enough,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told a televised briefing.A curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day will be implemented from Sunday evening in Melbourne, barring the nearly five million people in the city from leaving their houses except for work or to receive or give care.The sweeping new restrictions limit the time Melbourne residents may spend on outdoor exercise and essential shopping. All schools will move to remote learning from Wednesday.Supermarkets will remain open, and restaurants, already closed for dining in, will be able to continue with their takeaway and delivery services. Federal backingThe federal government backed Victoria’s measures, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying in a post on his Facebook page that they were “regrettably necessary” to stop the spread of the pandemic.”We are all in this together and we will get through it,” Morrison said.Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt said at a televised briefing the federal government supports the measures with a ‘heavy’ heart.”We do so because they will help save and protect lives,” Hunt said.The backing by the federal government, ruled by a Liberal Party-led coalition, for the measures by Victoria’s Labor Party government shows national unity across the political spectrum in a country with a loose federal system.Australia has fared far better than many other countries in keeping the coronavirus from spreading, but at a high economic cost. It has recorded around 18,000 coronavirus cases and just over 200 COVID-19 deaths, but the recent surge in Victoria has proven difficult to contain.The state of disaster gives Victoria police additional powers to ensure people are complying with public-health directions.”We have no choice but to make these decisions and to push on,” Andrews said. “This is the only option we have.”Restrictions on movement and business operations elsewhere in the state will be less severe than in Melbourne. Andrews said further restrictions for Victoria businesses will be announced on Monday.Neighboring New South Wales, the most populous state, reported 12 infections on Sunday, with the state now “strongly” recommending the use of face masks in public. Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria declared a state of disaster on Sunday and imposed a nightly curfew for the capital Melbourne as part of its harshest movement restrictions to date to contain a resurgent COVID-19.Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city already under a reimposed six-week stay-home order, has struggled to rein in the disease, with record numbers of infections of the new coronavirus reported last week.On Sunday, Victoria reported 671 infections, one of its highest, and seven COVID-19 deaths. High numbers of community transmissions and cases of unknown origins have forced the new restrictions, which will be in place for six weeks, officials said.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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BLOG: S&P Threatens Pennsylvania With a Downgrade Due to Our Budget Deficit

first_img March 07, 2016 Budget News,  The Blog Last week, Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services cited Pennsylvania’s structural budget imbalance as the primary reason that the commonwealth’s AA-minus general obligation rating could be downgraded by the end of March.Governor Wolf has warned for years that Pennsylvania’s $2 billion plus budget deficit is a time bomb, ticking away. If it explodes, Pennsylvania will experience a fiscal catastrophe the likes of which we have never seen.Last week’s S&P downgrade warning is a stark reminder of the consequences of failing to address Pennsylvania’s budget deficit. It’s time to pass a budget that addresses the budget deficit and fully funds our schools and other key services.Key takeaways from the report:“We believe that the failure of lawmakers to agree on a complete budget package for fiscal 2016 in the coming weeks would impair their ability to address the projected fiscal 2017 budget gap in a timely manner. If the legislature and governor do not enact a fiscal 2016 budget that addresses structural balance by the end of the March sessions, we will likely lower the rating. On the other hand, if lawmakers do agree on a budget that addresses long-term structural balance in this timeframe, we could revise the outlook back to stable.”“The $30.3 billion budget passed by both the house and senate is, in our view, structurally unbalanced and does not include pension reforms negotiated in the previously agreed-on budget framework. As proposed, the budget had a $510 million budget gap for fiscal 2016 and left a $2.2 billion budget gap for fiscal 2017. It did not include a previously proposed revenue increase package and relies on $46.6 million of one-time revenues in fiscal 2016. Increases to basic education funding in House Bill 1460 were less than the budget compromise bill, and, when including cuts to school construction, it cut $95 million to education.”“In our view, the immediate credit concern is that failure to act in the current fiscal year could compound future fiscal gaps.” Read more posts about Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 budget.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf SHARE Email Facebook Twittercenter_img BLOG: S&P Threatens Pennsylvania With a Downgrade Due to Our Budget Deficit By: Jeffrey Sheridan, Press Secretarylast_img read more

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