Newest Coronavirus: Asia-Pacific Stocks Follow Wall St Higher

Newest Coronavirus: Asia-Pacific Stocks Follow Wall St Higher

Australian companies announce series of layoffs

Jamie Smyth reports from Sydney

Australian companies on Wednesday announced a wave of layoffs with Virgin Australia and clothing retailer Mosaic, announcing the layoff of nearly 15,000 workers.

The layoffs, which the two companies said were temporary measures to deal with the coronavirus crisis, followed a further crackdown by companies and the movement of people which should take effect from midnight.

As part of the new measures, beauty salons, casinos, gymnasiums and a range of other venues will close and barbecues or other social gatherings with more than 10 people have been banned.

Canberra also prohibits Australians from traveling abroad, as the number of coronavirus cases exceeds 2,000, more than double the number three days earlier. However, schools in most states remain open – a controversial decision that has drawn criticism from some health experts, who have recommended the implementation of some of the toughest measures seen in Europe.

Brendan Murphy, chief medical officer of Australia, said that it was not credible to put measures in place for a few weeks and suddenly stop them.

“So we are very keen to put in place restrictive measures without completely destroying life as we know it.”

Virgin said it would begin to immobilize 125 aircraft and remove 80 percent of its 10,000 employees until at least May due to the extraordinary situation. Mosaic Brands, which owns several retailers such as Noni B, said it would close all of its stores and resign due to a substantial drop in pedestrian traffic due to social distancing rules.

The number of job losses in the economy has put intense pressure on welfare services, with long lines of people lining up outside unemployment offices and its main website crashing due to the deluge of requests .

Westpac economists forecast the unemployment rate in Australia to fall from 5 percent to 11.1 percent by the end of June, with more than 800,000 job losses in the second quarter.

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