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Rental evictions and a 'new phase': Everything we learnt from Scott Morrison's latest press conference.

In a press conference on Friday afternoon, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a number of updates about the current state of COVID-19 in Australia.

He began by acknowledging that Australia has entered a ‘new phase’ – from the containment phase to a suppression phase. We have now entered single digit levels of COVID-19 infection growth.

“Had the virus kept growing at the same rate it was 12 days ago, we would now have more than 10,500 cases in this country,” he said.

“That is a tribute to the work that has been done by Australians in getting around and supporting the very sensible measures that have been put in place all around the country.”

We’ll be in the suppression phase for some time, he said, before we reach the recovery phase.

Speaking later in the press conference, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said he was “quietly pleased” with the trend of new cases, but said community cases are growing. He said it was important to maintain social distancing, because there may be people in the community who have COVID-19 without knowing.

Your COVID-19 questions answered by Mamamia’s Claire Murphy. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia

Here are the key takeaways.

Policy on rental evictions

The Prime Minister said the national cabinet is working on a commercial tenancy agreement which will force landlords to give rental reductions for revenue loss.

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He had hoped to have a ‘mandatory code’ established by Friday, but it will now be delivered next week.

The mandatory code will apply to commercial tenants who have a turnover of less than 50 million and are part of the JobKeepers program.

“We do not wish to be prescriptive,” Morrison said. “What we want to do is have tenants in the room.”

When asked about residential tenancy, the Prime Minister said the priority has been on commercial tenancy, and highlighted he had already announced a moratorium on evictions.

When asked about issues that have arisen around evictions – given that the moratorium is not law – Morrison said:

“We are in in this together. Sit down with your tenant who has been paying you rent, working in their business week after week after week. Respect each other’s livelihoods and support each other’s livelihoods whenever you can. This is going to be a tough time. Whether you’re a tenant, and I know landlords will feel it as well.

“It is not about picking sides but making sure Australians work together to solve a problem that they share together.”

He implored landlords to “do the right thing”.

Those running religious services classified as essential workers

People on working holidays

“This is being done to ensure that those producers can get the work done, but also to ensure that the communities are protected,” he said.

Travel over Easter 

Morrison again urged Australians not to travel over Easter.

“People should not be going away for Easter holidays,” he said. “People should not be getting in their cars and going to other places.”

He also said there are ongoing conversations around how the rest of the school year will be competed after the Easter holidays.

At the end of the press conference, Morrison acknowledged that these measures are intended to be sustainable for at least six months.

“Patience must become our virtue, Australia,” he said. “It will save lives.”

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