Virus D-Day: Call to change rules for businesses

 

A Gold Coast tourism boss is encouraging the state government to consider loosening restrictions for struggling hospitality operators as COVID-19 cases dry up.

Today was labelled "D-Day" by the State Government as it marked the end of the 14-day COVID-19 incubation period after two Logan teenagers returned from Victoria carrying the virus.

Hopes have been raised that restrictions on businesses could be eased after only one new case was reported today which was linked to overseas travel and had no connection with the Logan teens.

Destination Gold Coast CEO Annaliese Battista urged the State Government to move quickly on relaxing hospitality rules, saying the risk of further clusters was low after Saturday's hard border closure added the entire states of NSW and ACT to the existing Victoria shutout.

 

1am August 8 2020, Gold Coast Highway Coolangatta Queensland - Queensland Police Officers with the assistance of The Australian Army stop all traffic into Queensland for checks at 1am on QLD/NSW border crossing due to increased lockdown of the State of Queensland. Scott Powick Newscorp
1am August 8 2020, Gold Coast Highway Coolangatta Queensland - Queensland Police Officers with the assistance of The Australian Army stop all traffic into Queensland for checks at 1am on QLD/NSW border crossing due to increased lockdown of the State of Queensland. Scott Powick Newscorp

"The hospitality sector has been ready, willing and able to go with COVID safe plans for quite some time and we would welcome the opportunity for intrastate visitors to come and spend time and money in our fantastic venues," she said.

"The easing of restrictions would be a significant step forward for those venues and the sector as a whole.

"It is a case of making the most of what is available to us and easing those restrictions will not only encourage others to come here but get Gold Coasters to be tourists in their own city."

 

Annaliese Battista Destination Gold Coast CEO. Pic Mike Batterham
Annaliese Battista Destination Gold Coast CEO. Pic Mike Batterham

Despite the lack of new cases, the Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young has warned against complacency.

"It is really important that we don't relax," Dr Young said.

"We need to maintain that social distancing, unfortunately we do not know where there might be the next case, when it might happen so we need to social distance wherever we possibly can."

On the Tweed-Coolangatta border on Sunday, traffic flows were much quieter than previous weekends, due to the strict new measures, after an influx of people returning to Queensland prior to 1am Saturday.

The hard border closure means no one is free from scrutiny by police and SES volunteers who were seen stopping pedestrians, bicycle riders and the elderly on mobility scooters.

Brunswick Heads locals found on Saturday they were also barred from entering the state after Queensland Health made a change to the border bubble map to allow border community residents more freedom.

Police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said there was confusion about a shared postcode and apologised to those residents who Saturday thought they could come to Queensland.

"There has to be a line somewhere. Byron Shire was deliberately excluded by the Health Chief Officer," he said.

It is still unclear who is eligible for a specialist pass.

Supt Wheeler advised those who lived outside the border bubble postcodes to visit the Queensland Health website and see what pass is available to them.

"What they would need to do is look at their circumstance, look at what pass is available and then if necessary make an application for an exemption to the Chief Health Officer."

Pedestrian foot traffic is stopped and checked for border passes as Queensland steps up its tightened security with Covid restrictions. Scott Powick Newscorp
Pedestrian foot traffic is stopped and checked for border passes as Queensland steps up its tightened security with Covid restrictions. Scott Powick Newscorp

In all, 407 people were refused entry at vehicle checkpoints and 117 arrivals were directed into self-funded hotel quarantine.

"Some people turned away at the border were understandably disappointed, particularly those Queenslanders who will have to return by air and then go into self-funded hotel quarantine," Chief Supt Wheeler said.

None were more disappointed however than three Bondi residents who learned an expensive lesson after being caught by police lying on their border declaration pass on Friday evening.

The men aged between 21 and 22 were stopped and were each given a $4003 fine after police determined they had been in a hot spot just three days earlier.

 

Originally published as Virus D-Day: Call to change rules for businesses


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