A Look at Australia and New Zealand’s Economies as They Stay Close to COVID-Free
The United States is currently averaging about 1,600 COVID-19-related deaths per week, yet Australia is celebrating 0 deaths from the virus in 2021, and New Zealand has had 26 deaths from the virus total since the initial outbreak in 2020. This is due to the responses Australia and New Zealand had to the virus.
How Australia and New Zealand Responded to COVID-19
There are four classifications of pandemic responses. In order of aggressiveness, they are exclusion, elimination, suppression and mitigation. Exclusion and elimination reportedly can stop the growth of the pandemic within 2-3 months, while suppression and mitigation require over a year, or until a vaccine is introduced. The United States practiced a suppression response, meaning they tried to control transmission among the masses once it had already started spreading. Conversely, New Zealand implemented an elimination strategy, meaning they took the most action they could to prevent the coronavirus from entering their borders. Australia called their response “aggressive suppression,” which claimed to be a compromise between the two responses.
Australia & New Zealand Offered Billions in Financial Support
To help soften the financial blow to businesses and individuals, the Australian Government offered $257 billion in direct support. Beyond that, the country has promised $25 billion in direct COVID-19 response measures and $74 billion in measures to create jobs. That brings the Government’s total support to $507 billion.
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Australia offered affected small businesses subsidies so they could keep paying their employees even if they’re not currently working. Currently, the Government is offering $2,000 a month per full-time employee and $1,300 a month per part-time employee. Self-employed individuals are now eligible for $300 a month in financial support. Additionally, if employees were working and contracted COVID-19 or worked with someone who did, they’d be eligible for a $1,500 payment while they quarantined at home. Australia also provides a $450 Coronavirus Test Isolation Payment for workers who are self-isolating while they await the results of a COVID-19 test.
New Zealand implemented a similar program where employers from affected businesses are offered money to keep paying their employees. Full-time employees receive $585.80 a week for and $350 a week for each part-time employee. Self-employed individuals are eligible for a $350 a month payment. Those awaiting a test result can receive a $350 one time payment. New Zealand also offers $585.80 per week for full-time and $350 per week for part-time workers that need to stay home to self-isolate, are sick with COVID-19, or care for others with COVID-19.
The Financial Aftermath
Though this financial support did cost the government, Australia’s economy is on the up and up. Gross domestic product went up 3.1% in the last 3 months of 2020. In the quarter before that, GDP rose 3.4%.That was the first back-to-back increase above 3% since 1959. Household spending is also up 4.3%. Peak unemployment for Australia was 7.5% and it has since fallen to 6.4%.
Recently, New Zealand had a level 3 lockdown in Auckland that will reportedly cost them $225 million a week. This is a big blow, considering how well their financial recovery had been going. New Zealand has had a meteoric rise with their GDP going up 14% in Q3 2020. The unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in Q4 from 5.3% in Q3.
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