No more special treatment for the outback shires
THE easing of restrictions this has Monday also marked the end of special concessions for outback shires such as the Banana Shire.
From now, the entirety of Queensland will be subject to the same restrictions on the number of people who can gather in public spaces, play sport or head to the pub.
Biloela Enterprise president Michaela Lawson said she wasn’t aware there were no longer outback concessions moving forward, but she felt that no more outback concessions were needed to benefit those regions with no coronavirus cases.
“I’m happy with how this weekend will progress and I’m seeing more cafes and pubs opening up this weekend,” Mrs Lawson said.
“I’m positive this is a good move for our little town.
“I think that instead of seeing it as a negative and we are missing out on those concessions, we still have a lot of opportunities available.”
During stage one restrictions, outback shires were permitted to have 20 people dine at pubs and cafes and earlier in May, stage two restrictions were originally planned to allow outback shires to have 50 people dine in at cafes and pubs.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the move to put stage two restrictions under one “umbrella” in Queensland, both in the city and outback, was due to allowing unlimited travel throughout the state.
“The only reason we are able to move forward with our planned Stage Two ahead of the original June 12 date is because Queenslanders have listened to the advice, acted on that advice and done an outstanding job of helping to smash the Covid-19 curve,” the Premier said.
“This will go a long way toward giving our critical tourism industry a welcome boost after adhering to the necessary restrictions we were forced to impose and I encourage Queenslanders to take advantage of the easing of rules around intrastate travel.”
Caravan park owners and accommodation operators in the region have said they are worried that intrastate travel isn’t enough to account for the missing number of interstate travellers that typically flood through the Banana Shire at this time of year.
“Now they have opened up Queensland I feel like more people will go to country towns and get the travel experience,” Mrs Lawson said.
“I know I have people through the shop telling me how they’d normally head to Big Red Bash but they’ve decided to go further north and explore parts of Queensland they haven't seen yet.
“So while we lost the interstate travellers we will get more Queenslanders getting out and exploring what they have in their own backyard.”
Banana Shire Mayor Nev Ferrier said he understood the concerns of tourism operators in the region wanting borders opened up but he was confident the Premier would make that move on July 10.
“She just wants to sit back and see how things go,” Cr Ferrier said.
“I’ve passed another three caravans in a row this morning so hopefully it will be all right for us.
“You can have 20 people in different rooms and if you have three rooms in your pub that could be 60 people.
“I’m doing a video today, telling people to be more careful with more people coming through the shire and especially for some of our little towns that have had the locals in them only.”