Victorian tenants struggling to pay rent because of coronavirus will be temporarily protected from eviction under a $500 million relief package.
The six-month ban on evictions and rent increases for both commercial and residential tenants, as well as tax relief for landlords, was announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday.
"We will support the most vulnerable, but also make sure that landlords and tenants are getting the benefit of these arrangements," he told reporters.
About $420 million will go towards land tax relief, while an $80 million fund will be set up for renters facing hardship due to the virus.
Tenants Victoria says the package recognises the struggle of one-third of the state's households.
"This issue has particularly impacted on young people and families who just don't have the savings to get them through this period," Tenants Victoria chief executive Jennifer Beveridge said.
Although applauding the announcement, the Victorian Council of Social Service said a lot of detail is still to be worked out by Consumer Affairs.
"It's unclear whether renters who accept a payment deferral will end up saddled with a mountain debt at the end of the pandemic," VCOSS chief Emma King said.
"That would be a tragic and dangerous outcome."
Eligible renters will need to have registered their revised agreement with Consumer Affairs or have gone through mediation, have less than $5000 in savings and be paying at least 30 per cent of their income in rent.
Small businesses with an annual turnover of under $50 million that have been hit with 30 per cent or more in revenue reduction because of coronavirus can also be granted rental waivers or deferrals.
The new measures will be backdated to March 29, as agreed by the national cabinet.
The announcement came the same day thousands of students started school from home.
Mr Andrews stressed that those who can study at home, must do so.
"If you've got a million kids getting to and from school ... that is not at all consistent with social distancing rules," he said.
Schools will remain open for vulnerable children and those of essential workers. Those students will still learn remotely, under supervision.
Victorian Chief Health Officer said on Tuesday his advice to the Victorian Government is that schools should undertake remote learning for term two.
"By having remote learning, it can contribute to physical distancing and therefore supports efforts to drive transmission down," he said.
An emergency sitting of the state parliament with reduced numbers and hours will take place next week to pass urgent bills relating to the coronavirus.
Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien wants to see those bills this week to properly scrutinise them, given the limited time for debate in the chamber.
"We can't be ambushed, we can't be dropped these bills a day or two before parliament sits," Mr O'Brien said.
A further eight people tested positive to COVID-19 overnight, bringing the state's total to 1299.
No new deaths were recorded and the state's virus toll stands at 14.
There are 39 people in hospital, including 18 patients in intensive care.
It follows slow growth in new cases over the Easter weekend, though authorities are warning against complacency or lifting strict social distancing rules too early.
"These numbers are the product of people doing the right thing. The alternative, of course, is not something we want visited upon our state," Mr Andrews said.
Individuals can be fined $1652 if they leave home for non-essential reasons and businesses face a $9913 fine if caught in the wrong.
Australian Associated Press