People walk past a "Beach Closed" sign at Bondi Beach, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Sydney, Australia on April 1, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)
CANBERRA - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a free childcare program amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Morrison and Dan Tehan, minister for education, on Thursday afternoon said that childcare will be free for all parents who require their children in care so they can continue to work from Monday next week.
"Relief is on its way for around a million Australian families and thousands of early learning educators and carers," Morrison told reporters.
Under the plan, the government will pay 50 percent of childcare center's fee revenue "up to the existing hourly rate cap based on a point in time before parents started withdrawing their children in large numbers," on condition that the center remains open and does not charge families for care.
It is expected to ensure "as many of the sector's 13,000 child care and early learning services as possible could keep their doors open for workers and vulnerable families who need those services," according to Morrison.
It comes after the childcare sector warned that it is facing an unprecedented crisis with many parents opting to keep their children at home over fears that they will get sick.