Squiz Today / 20 March 2020

Squiz Today – Friday, 20 March


“Just keep laughing. That’s all we can do”.

And you’d better listen up because it’s an instruction from Dame Judi Dench (while sporting a novelty dog hat, no less...).


As confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australia rose to 710 yesterday, the government announced that our borders will be closed to foreign citizens from tonight. And extraordinary economic steps have been taken to keep Australians in work.

Roger that. From 9pm tonight, all non-Australian citizens and non-residents will be blocked from entering the country in a big step-up of border control measures. Australians will still be able to return from overseas but they must self-isolate for 14 days. How will the massive travel ban slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak? “The reason for this decision is about 80% of the cases we have in Australia are either the result of someone who has contracted the virus overseas or someone who has had direct contact with someone who has returned from overseas," PM Scott Morrison said yesterday. Going even further, Tasmania will require all ‘non-essential’ travellers - Australian and non-Australian - to be quarantined for two weeks under measures dubbed the toughest in the country.

Analysts say this is the biggest challenge our economy has faced for decades. And so the Reserve Bank yesterday announced an out-of-session interest rate cut taking it down to 0.25%. That’s a new record low, and it won’t shift until things are back on track, Governor Philip Lowe said yesterday. Our central bank will also buy Australian government bonds as part of its first-ever quantitative easing program. And at least $90 billion in funding over three years will be extended to the banks if they pass that on in loans to small and medium-sized businesses. In a neat double act, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also announced $15 billion to help smaller lenders support business with loans. The main game is helping businesses to stay open and keeping job losses to a minimum. Lowe and Morrison said they’re trying to build a bridge. Not a ‘build one and get over it’ snarky type of bridge… But one that can get Aussies to the other side of this economic cluster-disaster.



• Qantas and Jetstar will cut all international flights and 60% of domestic flights as the group fights to stay afloat. That means about 20,000 staff members will be stood down - two-thirds of its workforce - on unpaid leave for at least a couple of months and flight schedules slashed. Woolworths is talking to Qantas about taking on those team members.

• Coronavirus-affected Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton yesterday said supermarket hoarders who are profiteering from the rush on supplies by selling their stash on online marketplaces will be pursued by the Federal Police.

• Meanwhile, the US and Europe are also looking at massive stimulus funding worth hundreds of billions of dollars to cushion their economies.

• As global cases edge towards 220,000, China yesterday reported no new cases from Wuhan and the wider Hubei province - the epicentre of the virus’ outbreak. The area has been under a strict lockdown since January. Despite the good news, officials worry about a second wave. And overnight, the death toll in Italy reached 3,405 outstripping that of China which has notified the World Health Organisation of 3,242 deaths.

• And yesterday the AFL Women’s comp’s final two rounds were cancelled - it will now enter an eight-team finals series starting this weekend.


New Zealand has become the latest country to decriminalise abortion after its parliament passed a landmark bill after scrapping a proposal for a referendum. Under the new laws, abortion is now removed from the Crimes Act, and pregnant women, after consulting a GP, can choose to have a termination up to 20 weeks. There's ongoing debate about aspects of the legislation, including the omission of clinic 'safe zones' around clinics, and the inclusion of an option for doctors to "conscientiously object" to the procedures.


The socialite accused of organising underage girls for deceased billionaire and accused child abuser Jeffrey Epstein, is suing his estate. Ghislaine Maxwell, the woman said to have been romantically involved with Epstein, is seeking reimbursement for legal fees and security costs because she says she "receives regular threats to her life and safety" despite having no involvement in his criminal activities. And he’d also promised to cover her costs before he died last year, Maxwell says. While several of Epstein's alleged victims accuse Maxwell of helping him recruit underage girls, authorities have not accused her of any wrongdoing. Maxwell has been impossible for the media to find for some months.


World-famous Australian gynaecologist Dr Catherine Hamlin died at the age of 96yo at her home in Ethiopia on Wednesday. The ‘Saint of Addis Ababa’ set up centres alongside her late husband Dr Reg Hamlin for women suffering from obstetric fistula. It’s a debilitating condition that causes incontinence after complications in childbirth. The Hamlins were responsible for providing life-changing surgery to more than 60,000 Ethiopian women, and they were revered for their word. Catherine was awarded our highest honour of Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), and she was one of 50 accomplished Australians to be invited to lunch with the Queen in 2011. “Everyone calls her a saint, but she was a rebel at heart," said her niece Dr Alison Morgan, also a maternal health specialist.


In these changing times, it's only natural that if you're single and ready to mingle (or maybe the current climate has you reviewing your options…) that you're thinking through your life choices. But here's a warning for you: do not text your ex. Just don’t.

You know what you could do with some spare time? Head to Zoos Victoria and check out the live-cam feed on their penguins, lions and giraffe and snow leopard cubs.

There's an urge to bake on a weekday at home that we don't get on the weekend. Thanks, procrastination bug... If you feel the urge, go no further than this gallery. It's pantry-staple friendly and the sour cherry and almond cake is a favourite that’s been in high rotation at our joint…


UN International Day of Happiness

International Francophonie Day

Persian New Year

Birthdays for Aussie author David Malouf (1934), film director Spike Lee (1957), actor Holly Hunter (1958), Aussie model/actor Ruby Rose (1986)

Anniversaries - Of the founding of the Dutch East India Company (1602); Of the founding of restaurant chain KFC (1930); Of the marriages of John Lennon and Yoko Ono (1969), and David and Angie Bowie (1970); Of the death of Malcolm Fraser (2015)

World Down Syndrome Day

International Day of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

World Poetry Day

International Day of Forests

Birthdays for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (1955), actors Gary Oldman (1958) and Matthew Broderick (1962), and comedian Rosie O'Donnell (1962)

Anniversaries - Of Persia officially being renamed Iran (1935); Of the wedding of actors Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall (1945); Of Ethiopia abolishing its monarchy after 3,000 years (1975)

World Water Day

Birthdays for actor William Shatner (1931), author James Patterson (1947), composer Andrew Lloyd Webber (1948), actresses Reese Witherspoon (1976) and Constance Wu (1982)

Anniversaries - Of Brussels terrorist attack, which killed 35 (2016); Of the terrorist attack on London's Westminster Bridge and Houses of Parliament, which killed four (2017)

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