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Churches To Be Considered Workplaces For Easter Services

Scott Morrison says churches will be considered as "workplaces" for Easter services and given some flexibility under social distancing rules.

Singers and other assistants will be allowed to take part in Easter church service webcasts and broadcasts under the new rules announced by the PM on Friday.

Morrison said this would mean churches could have, for example, a cantor and other assistants involved as well as the priest or minister.

The PM clarified to say the new rules do not mean churches and other places of worship were open to the public, but it would allow those who need to participate in presenting services for broadcasts and live streams to do so, so the community can access them.

Churches are not open, places of worship are not open.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says churches will be considered workplaces. Image: AAP

"But there are ways religious services can be conducted."

But the PM reiterated calls that Australians should not be going away for the Easter holidays.

"People should not be getting in their cars and going to other places," he said.

Morrison was questioned as to why churches were allowed to continue operating but the parliament could not.

He said parliament would resume this week and "do the work that it needs to during the course of this crisis".

Working Holiday-Makers Required To Self-Isolate

Morrison also announced on Friday that backpackers travelling to farms for fruit-picking and other jobs will be forced to self-isolate for 14 days to avoid spreading coronavirus.

The PM announced the new measures for working holiday-makers, with the move designed to protect rural and regional communities from the pandemic.

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

He also urged backpackers to follow social distancing rules, warning people of the ban on groups travelling the country in campervans.

The National Cabinet is close to agreeing on an industry code of practice to protect commercial and resident tenants and property owners. Image: Getty

Commercial Tenancy Agreement Still Being Finalised

The PM was expected to announce plans to better protect commercial and residential tenants and property owners during the economic crisis.

On Friday, he updated to say the cabinet was very close to agreeing to an industry code of practice for commercial tenancies but “the code has not got to the point we believe it needs to get to”.

“We are seeking the industry to complete their code and that code will be a mandatory code where it will be mandatory for tenants and landlords where they have a turnover of less than $50 million and they are a participant of the JobKeeper program," he said.

“If you’re in that situation and you’re a tenant than we will be working to implement mandatory code of practice to ensure both the landlord and tenant can get through this period and go back to business as usual.”

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A rental agency has sent a mass email to its tenants, claiming non-Australians are irresponsible for staying in the country and urging all tenants to pay rent, even if they're unemployed.

The rent issue has been a focus of national cabinet’s work for more than a week as there is expected to be significant disruption to tenancies even with the JobKeeper payment boosting cashflow.

Morrison has said that appropriate incentives are needed for landlords and tenants to work together.

When asked on Friday if people should be considering using their superannuation to pay their rent, his response was to refer to the JobKeeper guidelines -– those eligible for the payment can access a portion of their super during the crisis.

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