Premier switches from ‘flattening curve’ to ‘eradication’?
I SPOKE to a prominent restaurateur this week about a reservation and the pain in his voice at having to turn yet another customer away was palpable.
Like so many other passionate people in the hospitality trade, where margins are tight and competition is fierce at the best of times, he's invested big dollars in his classy fine diner.
He's now desperately trying to trade his way out of trouble after being pushed to the brink by the closure of the food trade during the coronavirus pandemic.
But the confusing and contradictory rules enforced by the Palaszczuk Government aren't making it easy.
Like other operators, he jumped at the chance to re-open on May 15 when restrictions were eased.
However, while restaurants, pubs and clubs are understandably required to ensure they have four square metres of floor space per patron, the Government has inextricably capped their customers to 10 people at a time.
This cap means those who do have a bigger area, and therefore the ability to still maintain social distancing, are having to turn people away.
The restaurateur I spoke to said they booked out in four hours for their reopening night and for a time kept a count of customers they'd rejected.
They got to 68 before giving up.
Each rejected reservation was much-needed money not going through the till.
His lot is still better than bigger restaurants who could be safely keeping people apart but would lose more money opening under the 10 person rule than what they are by remaining shut.
The hospitality industry is understandably livid at an incongruous rule that appears like it was dreamt up by a bureaucrat who has never run a business.
Hairdressers, nail salons and beauty therapists are all operating with much closer and longer contact between workers and staff yet the hospitality trade isn't trusted to keep people apart.
The industry's frustration is being mirrored across Queensland with people increasingly questioning why certain restrictions remain in place.
We acquiesced to these extraordinary invasions on our liberties because there was a dire need to "flatten the curve" of the coronavirus spread so our health system wasn't over-run.
This was perfectly acceptable. Admirable even. Lives being lost because our dedicated hospital workers couldn't cope with demand would have been abhorrent.
But at some point closing large sections of the economy to "suppress" the virus spread morphed into keeping businesses shuttered and maintaining strict controls on people's lives in order to "eradicate" this disease.
Did we agree to this? Can we not be trusted to follow social distancing and decide for ourselves what risks we're willing to take?
Is it even realistic to try to eradicate the virus before there's a vaccine?
Is the Government unwilling to relinquish the power it has and were we hoodwinked into allowing them to take it?
On April 2, back when Queensland was recording dozens of cases a day from mostly returning overseas travellers and Ruby Princess passengers, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned restrictions might need to last for six months and the peak would come in July.
"If we're flattening that curve, it means that we're going to go through it longer so our hospitals can cope," she said.
However, by April 26, the Premier managed to ease restrictions in time for Mother's Day after 50 new cases were recorded in two weeks and 98 remained active.
"Because we have done such a terrific job of flattening the curve, after discussions with the Chief Health Officer, from next Friday we will be able to lift some of the stay-at-home restrictions," Ms Palaszczuk said.
It was a political fillip for the Premier which was roundly celebrated after all those dire predictions.
Yet in the fortnight since stage one of the Government's restriction- easing roadmap kicked in, Queensland has recorded just six new cases and now has only six active ones remaining.
The curve hasn't just been flattened. It's in steep decline.
So why hasn't the Government responded in kind and further eased restrictions?
How come the rules haven't been removed when the supposed reason for their introduction has been achieved? Why are only ten people allowed in restaurants and pubs regardless of their size?
Ms Palaszczuk professed this week to sleepless nights and hard decisions ahead amid mounting criticism she's playing politics with the pandemic by not further easing restrictions.
"Queensland has flattened the curve," the Premier acknowledged "But we cannot be complacent."
Since when was complacency part of the pact?
If the curve has been flattened, what is she waiting for?
Originally published as When did Premier change from 'flattening curve' to 'eradication'?