Forget the rest: Premier creates ‘Queensland bubble’
QUEENSLANDERS will be allowed to travel throughout almost the entire state from today as the Palaszczuk Government significantly accelerated its plans to ease tough coronavirus restrictions following calls for action from the tourism industry.
But Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has held firm that the state's border will remain closed and the situation evaluated at the end of June as she moved to create a "Queensland bubble" for the next month.
Ms Palaszczuk said she was not going to give anyone false hope as she was quizzed yesterday over when it would be possible for the border to reopen.
"At the end of June, we will actively consider all the circumstances across the nation," she said.
"We will make a decision at the end of the month, which will then give people two weeks to prepare if that was to happen.
"All of the states and territories are looking good, so we need to make sure that we take into account that most important epidemiology that comes into National Cabinet in a fortnight's time."
Ms Palaszczuk said the relaxed intrastate travel restrictions had been brought forward because of the "tremendous work" of Queenslanders, as she urged families to back the state's struggling tourism industry during the winter school holidays.
"Let's open the doors," she said.
"There's no better time to hop in the car for school holidays and go for that once in a lifetime drive trip around Queensland.
"Take the family to places that you have never been before. This is Queensland backing Queenslanders and it's opening up Queensland to Queenslanders."
The easing in travel restrictions comes after a campaign by The Courier-Mail advocating on behalf of the state's tourism industry which has been crippled by the shutdown.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said the announcement would be an "enormous relief" for the industry, which he said had been at a standstill for the past few months.
He said the move, which will come into effect from midday tomorrow, will allow for the tourism industry to rebuild the winter season "to some extent".
"It will allow us to capture an enormous potential of Queenslanders wanting to travel, wanting to bust out of their four walls and experience this great state," he said.
"Every sector of our industry will be able to provide safe environments for customers and for staff."
Mr Gschwind reiterated that the industry still wanted the border to reopen from July 10 to tap into the southern market.
"The Premier made it very clear today that she would assess the situation as always planned at the end of June," Mr Gschwind said.
The Government's road map says interstate travel will be permitted from July 10 "subject to further planning and review".
Under the eased stage two restrictions that will begin today, tourism accommodation sites will be allowed to reopen as well as camping grounds and caravan parks.
Hiking, camping and other recreational activities in national and state parks will also be permitted to resume.
While Queenslanders will be able to make unlimited travel throughout almost all of the state, including overnight stays, Ms Palaszczuk said the easing of restrictions would not apply to biosecurity or restricted zones for Indigenous communities.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said Ms Palaszczuk had "missed a massive opportunity" to reopen the interstate borders in July.
"We welcome the easing of travel restrictions, but now we want to see the Premier give certainty and clarity to those businesses who are losing $20 million a day because (they're) missing out from that southern tourism dollar," she said.
"What we have been calling for is for Annastacia Palaszczuk to stick to her Government's own road map."
Deputy Premier Steven Miles yesterday unveiled a three stage road map to easing access restrictions for Queensland's remote communities.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland's Amanda Rohan said the announcement of relaxed intrastate travel restrictions was "fantastic news".
"This is a time to get out and about, explore areas of Queensland while backing small businesses, who are the real drivers of our economy and hugely important employers," she said.
Originally published as Forget the rest: Premier creates 'Queensland bubble'