The COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of deaths worldwide and has had lasting impacts on many aspects of our everyday lives. COVID-19 has caused most of the country into lockdown at least once during the pandemic and this has had huge economic and health impacts nationwide. During the pandemic, people missed funerals, births, school, work and weddings. Needless to say, something that causes almost the entire nation to close down is certain to have a major impact on society. Here are the 9 biggest impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.
Major Impacts on The Education System as Millions of Students Could Not Attend Schools and Higher Education Facilities
COVID-19 had a huge effect on schools in Australia. Many schools, TAFE and universities were forced to adapt to a world of online learning. This mostly affected students in their first year of schooling and year 12. Many students in their first year of school were unable to have a conventional first year of learning. They also missed out on opportunities to socialise with their peers and didn’t learn how to raise their hands if they wanted to ask a question or how to behave at school.
Many parents of young children were forced to help teach their children from home while also working from home themselves. Students in their first years of school had little face-to-face contact during the crucial moment in their education when they learn to read and write. On the contrary, students in year 12 were forced to do their last year of schooling mainly on their own and this caused significant stress when it came to studying for exams. It is estimated that school closures contributed to some students dropping out of school and higher education altogether.
Widespread Business Closures Particularly In the Hospitality Industry
During lockdowns, many non-essential businesses were forced to close or operate at a lower capacity. Many businesses couldn’t sustain their revenue during lockdowns and were forced to close permanently. Businesses that suffered the most from lockdowns include restaurants, cafes, shops selling non-essential items, play centres, nightclubs and bars. For restaurants, food delivery services were a saving grace and source of income but unfortunately not enough for many popular restaurants to stay open or to keep their staff employed.
3. Supply Chain Issues
Supply chain issues were a huge inconvenience during the pandemic. The limited flights and international travel meant that air and sea freight was limited. On top of this many items are manufactured in China and China’s strict lockdowns meant that many factories were closed which lead to material shortages and supply issues worldwide.
4. Loss of Revenue in The Travel Industry
With international and interstate travel suspended during much of the pandemic, the travel industry suffered immensely. Hotels, airlines, and tourist attractions lost significant amounts of revenue during this time. Many people in the hospitality, aviation and tourism industry lost their occupations during this time and had to temporarily switch careers.
5. Nationwide Job Losses
With many workplaces forced to close during lockdown periods, many businesses were forced to close or to let staff go due to loss of revenue. In July 2020 Australia had a staggering unemployment rate of 7.5%. This was the highest unemployment rate in Australia in over 20 years. The Australian Bureau of Statistics calculated that 2.7 million Australians either had their work hours cut or lost their jobs between March and April 2020.
6. Increased Pressure on The Welfare System
As many people lost their sources of income during the Pandemic the Australian Government offered Job Keeper payments to keep people employed. This cost the government $90 billion in Centrelink payments during this time. Compensation was also offered to those who couldn’t work due to COVID isolation which further cost taxpayers money during this time.
7. Major Effect on Australia’s Economy
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Australia’s GDP has suffered a total loss of 158 billion dollars over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Household spending decreased due to record-high unemployment rates and reduced working hours amongst millions of Australians. During lockdown periods Australians also spent less on entertainment, transport and travel.
While household spending was down The Australian Government spending was at an all- time high due to record spending in the welfare and healthcare industry. The Reserve Bank of Australia reduced interest rates during the height of the pandemic but as the nation is now recovering from the effects of the pandemic interest rates continue to rise in 2022. This is causing a cost of living crisis as many Australians to face pressure to pay their mortgages and many landlords are increasing rent prices to account for increased mortgage repayments.
8. Rental Crisis
During lockdowns many Australians had the ability to work from home, this led to a decrease in demand for inner-city rentals as people could work from anywhere. Many landlords sold their investment properties due to vacancies or to subsidise their loss of income during the pandemic.
As lockdowns are easing people are flocking back to cities and many renters are struggling to secure rentals due to low vacancies. The rental vacancy is at only 3.4% in Sydney, 2.4% in Melbourne and 2.7% in Brisbane.
Many tenants have also found that rent has increased significantly since the beginning of the pandemic as interest rates continue to rise and landlords raise their rental prices.
9. The Increased Ability To Work and Study From Home
Many people had no choice but to work and study from home during lockdowns. This meant businesses, schools and universities were forced to adapt to allow people to study and work from home. Many companies have transitioned to having employees work from home part or full time and this gives them the ability to hire people from all over the world. Many higher education facilities now have fantastic online resources that allow students to complete their education from the comfort of their homes. This has led to a better work/life balance for millions of people.
While COVID lockdowns certainly had some major impacts on the Australian Economy they did have some benefits. Lockdowns stopped the major spread of COVID prior to vaccines and working and schooling from home have taught us that we can work and study remotely if need be.