The Queensland Government says it will ease some coronavirus contact restrictions faster than expected, with the number of people allowed in small venues to double and casinos, massage parlours and nightclubs set to open.
But when the state’s borders open to almost everyone, there will be a catch.
Here’s what you need to know:
When are the borders opening?
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that from July 10, people from interstate can apply for a border pass to Queensland, as long as they haven’t been to Victoria in the previous fortnight.
That’s the catch. People who’ve been to Victoria are really not wanted in the state right now.
The extent of community transmission in Victoria is a big concern for every other Australian state and territory, including Queensland.
Which means if your interstate relatives want to visit the sunshine state, there will be an online form to fill in.
If you lie on that form, you can be fined $4000.
Stanley Lewis owns a Brisbane Airport Shuttle Bus service and said borders reopening was great news, even though the pandemic had all but destroyed the aviation industry.
“I’ve lost 95 per cent of my business, the only thing I’ve had mainly is a bit of fly-in-fly-out boys going up to Moranbah,” he said.
Can you go to Victoria?
Technically, yes. But don’t expect to be allowed back in, unless you’re willing to cough up the cash to stay in police-enforced hotel quarantine for 14 days upon your return.
Anyone who heads to Queensland from Victoria will be turned away or forced to pay the hotel bill for their quarantine.
If you refuse to be tested, authorities will keep you in quarantine for another 10 days at your expense.
Health Minister Steven Miles said very few Victorian travellers would be given the green light to cross the state’s border.
“If they don’t have the proper documentation and if they don’t meet one of the very limited number of exceptions — they’ll be sent home,” he said.
Miles said the mandatory quarantine accommodation would cost “about $200” per person a night.
“We really hope that that is a deterrent,” he said.
When are other measures lifted?
Even sooner. From noon this Friday, a whole raft of new freedoms come in.
These were planned for July 10, but with low case numbers the State Government is feeling confident.
You’ll be able to hang out with more friends, have bigger parties and order beers at the bar again.
What will be allowed?
Private gatherings of up to 100 with friends and family will be permitted, including weddings and funerals.
Sporting and recreational activities are getting up and running with contact permitted on the field of play.
Indoor and outdoor sports facilities will be able to open with one person per 4 square metres among spectators.
A maximum number of customers for a business at any one time has been determined by the 4-square-metre rule.
But now smaller venues (200 square metres or less) can have one person per 2 square metres.
Nightclubs, massage parlours, casinos and gaming rooms can open again, as can saunas, bathhouses and food courts.
Office-based workers can return to their place of work.
And you’ll be able to get out and see some live entertainment and sport soon.
Queensland’s major sports facilities will be allowed up to 25,000 spectators or 50 per cent of capacity (whichever is the lesser), with a COVID-safe plan.
Concert venues, theatres and auditoriums can open and have up to 50 per cent capacity or one person per 4 square metres (whichever is greater).
More events will be allowed too, with no approval required for an event for up to 500 people that follows a COVID-safe event checklist.
What does it mean for businesses?
For businesses large and small there’s going to be a boost to the number of people they can cater to and a corresponding increase in revenue.
Tourism-related businesses are particularly excited by the borders reopening, hoping it will breathe life into an industry that has been particularly hard hit.
Far north Queensland dive boat operator Alan Wallish said he was relieved at the Premier’s decision, which will allow his business to resume tours to the Great Barrier Reef next month.
“We haven’t really been operating at all for the last three and a half months … this will help, now we just need to get flights happening and people organising,” Wallish said.
He said it was a perfect time to holiday in far north Queensland and hoped to see a surge in tourist bookings in the region.
“They’re going to be loved to death up here,” he said.
“We’re here with open arms, we love you, we want you, so as soon as you can get on those planes.”
What if we see outbreaks like Victoria?
That’s what everyone wants to avoid, but the Premier and Chief Health Officer have the power to reimpose lockdowns.
As Australia is proposing a “suppression” rather than “eradication” strategy, it’s expected there will be some low levels of the virus persisting in the community.
Future lockdowns and restrictions could resemble what’s happening in Victoria, with suburbs and clusters locked down and aggressive testing and contact tracing done.
– ABC / George RobertsJump to next article