Coronavirus Qld: Restrictions may ease further amid border row
Coronavirus Qld: Restrictions may ease further amid border row

BORDER D-DAY: Trade-off if state stays closed

QUEENSLAND'S COVID-19 restrictions could be relaxed faster to help businesses recover as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk decides later today whether the borders can reopen without exposing the state to Victoria's second wave.

The Courier-Mail understands authorities are nervous about throwing the borders open on July 10 while Victoria records high numbers of community transmissions - 74 of the 75 new COVID-19 cases on Monday were acquired locally.

It is understood there is a push to reopen to all states except Victoria, as Queensland businesses bleed from enduring restrictions, and there have been suggestions driver's licenses could be used to weed out visitors from coronavirus hot spots.

But some feel that would be difficult to practically implement.

Victoria's growing clusters saw Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young throw sporting codes a major curve ball on Monday when she announced hard-line quarantine restrictions for Queensland AFL, NRL and rugby union clubs exposed to potentially infectious Melbourne players.

Businesses are urging Ms Palaszczuk to adapt to "the new normal" as Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared the southern surge was no reason to keep borders closed.

Dr Young will  make her end-of-month review recommendations to the Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles, who will discuss the way forward with colleagues ahead of a public announcement.

It is understood part of their consideration will be whether to fast-track July 10's stage 3 restrictions, which would allow more people at places like cafes and bars, cinemas, amusement parks, concert venues, weddings and funerals.

The state's road map has crowds of 100 allowed then, but the Government will consider a proposal out of Friday's National Cabinet that social distancing of one person per two square metres be introduced instead.

 

 

Mr Morrison said Queenslanders would lose their jobs if borders didn't reopen, saying: "The people of Queensland need their economy to re-fire and resurge."

CCIQ spokeswoman Amanda Rohan said her members wanted authorities to manage the risks while allowing businesses to recover.

"We can't just stay in lockdown because perfect may never come and we're going to need to get back to some kind of new normal," she said.

As well as the border reopening, CCIQ wants stage 3 caps on crowds of 100 dropped for a "four per square metre" or "two per square metre" rule, depending on floor size.

"To get that uplift that businesses need to get people in the door and money flowing back through the tills … we think get rid of the arbitrary figures and just operate in a COVID-19-safe way," Ms Rohan said.

"Some businesses can't open yet because it's not viable.

"A lot of businesses are operating on a knife's edge."

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said Victoria's situation was not ideal, but border openings should go ahead as planned.

 

"As unsettling as it is to see these clusters in Victoria, we have to be able to manage the economy around that," he said, adding his support for the introduction of protections against travellers from hot spots.

"This would be a massive blow for businesses that have been waiting desperately for the borders to reopen (if borders remain closed).

"The winter season is important to many people, many regions, and to lose it would definitely have an impact on the overall viability of some of these businesses."

 

Victoria's COVID-19 cluster has changed Queenslanders' views on opening the border, with a couriermail.com.au poll on Monday showing 51 per cent of almost 3000 voters did not want the borders to reopen. 

Just three weeks ago, 84 per cent of more than 4400 couriermail.com.au readers said the borders should reopen. 

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Minister Mark Bailey warned people who didn't think Queensland was susceptible to a second wave should "think again", as he called the LNP's proposal to reopen borders on Wednesday "irresponsible".

"This virus is potent," he said.

"It only needs a small number of people to be doing the wrong thing for it to spread very quickly and that's why we've got to be resolute around making smart decisions based on evidence, based on health advice."

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has called for the borders to reopen, but for people coming in from hot spots to pay for a two-week quarantine on arrival.

Ms Palaszczuk has been under pressure on the July reopening, which was first forecast in early May, since she declared later the same month the border may not open until September.

 

Originally published as Consolation for business if borders stay shut



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