Australian businesses are set for a possible six month period of "hibernation" in a further attempt to shield the economy from the devastating impact from the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said details of the plan to effectively cocoon businesses will be announced in the next few days as part of a third stimulus package which will also include commercial and residential rental assistance.
"There are businesses which will have to close their doors," Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra after meeting with the national cabinet made up of premiers and chief ministers.
Some businesses will find they won't have the customers to keep going, for various reasons.
"We want these businesses to effectively go into a hibernation, which means on the other side, the employees come back, the opportunities come back, the economy comes back," he said.
What he doesn't want over the course of the next six months is for those business to be so saddled by debt, rent and other liabilities that they will not be able to start again "on the other side".
The meeting was briefed by Treasury head Steven Kennedy on the potential impacts the country is dealing with.
"The treasurer and I will have more to say about that in the next few days, as we are preparing to put in place the third tranche of the measures," Mr Morrison said.
John Daley, from the Grattan institute think tank, told a virtual seminar before the prime minister's press conference that a hard shutdown of the economy should have been in place weeks ago.
"It was very obvious to a lot of people three or four weeks ago that we should have shut Australia borders very hard," Mr Daley said.
"It's just nothing like good enough when you have a really dangerous disease."
He said it was possible with a suspension of economic activity, combined with government support, the economy could come out of the slump much faster than it otherwise would.
There have been calls for the government to provide a UK-style 80 per cent wage subsidy aimed at keeping people employed during what could be a prolonged coronavirus crisis.
But the Australian government has repeatedly baulked at the idea.
"No, we will not look at a UK-style system because in an Australian context that just wouldn't work," Senator Cormann told Sky News.
He added the government continued to assess ways to improve levels of income support.
The country was looking at six months of economic disruption from COVID-19 so support needed to get to people "as quickly as possible", he said.
"If we came up with a completely different system, a completely different approach and had to start up a system from scratch it would take us way too long to get that into the community."
But Labor industrial relation spokesman Tony Burke said it was not just the UK that has managed to set up such a scheme but also Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
"They're all setting up wage subsidy schemes so people can keep their jobs instead of joining unemployment queues during this crisis," Mr Burke told AAP.
"The Morrison government's response? Nah, it's all too hard."
Thousands of workers have already lost their jobs in the past week alone as the impact of the virus bites.
The hospitality, travel and retail sectors have had the bulk of the casualties, with outdoor leisure equipment Kathmandu adding to the dole queues on Friday by standing down 2000 workers. Other outdoor retailers are likely to follow suit.
Retail giant Myer announced late Friday, that it will close all of its stores for four weeks, and stand down about 10,000 staff without pay in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Australian Associated Press