Queensland is celebrating another day of zero coronavirus cases as restrictions continue to ease across the state.
From midday, Queenslanders will be able to congregate in groups of 20 in pubs, gyms and even travel intrastate will be allowed, but the borders will remain closed. The state brought forward the next easing of restrictions by almost two weeks after zero new cases were announced for the third straight day on Sunday.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said travel restrictions regarding remote and vulnerable indigenous communities remained in place. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the borders will stay closed despite just five active COVID-19 cases throughout Queensland with a review in two weeks.
“Let me make it very clear, the border will remain closed for the month of June,” she said.
The number of positive cases remains at 1058.
Federal shadow treasurer and Queenslander Jim Chalmers supported the Premier, saying people don’t want the border and associated businesses like tourism reopened just yet.
“It’s important we get it open when it’s appropriate and responsible to do that. Premier Palaszczuk has said she’ll keep it under review and stay flexible about it, and I think that’s important and warranted,” Dr Chalmers told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.
Ms Palaszczuk said they were working with the hospitality industry to further open their businesses by next Friday to have 20 people per designated area, providing it meets the one person per four square metre restrictions. However, all patrons must be seated, staff can only work in an assigned area and only table service will be permitted.
Queensland Hotels Association CEO Bernie Hogan said curbing staff movements within a premises was not financially viable for many operators. He said it would hobble many venues during slow periods and not make it worth them opening.
“If you’re down to four people in one area, two in another and six in another, you can’t move them together, but you have to have one-on-one service, all you are doing is magnifying the losses,” he said.
“We would not be instructing our members to work in a loss-making manner.”
Ms Palaszczuk’s decision to keep the borders closed has been criticised by the Federal Government as being an unnecessary move that doesn’t have the support of the Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy.
Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision to keep the Queensland border closed was never supported by the National Cabinet.
“That was never the medical expert advice that came at any time. Premiers and their governments in states, whether it is South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, have all made their own decisions and so they have got to justify those decisions,” Mr Morrison said.
“You can stay under the doona forever. You’ll never face any danger,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra of the reopening of Australia.
“But we’ve got to get out from under the doona at some time.”
In NSW, pubs, beauty salons and museums will reopen from today, and holiday travel inside state boundaries will also be permitted.
“It doesn’t take away with how dangerous the virus is, how contagious it is and how volatile the situation is,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Sunday.
Ms Berejiklian hopes relaxing the restrictions and urging intrastate travel will help kickstart NSW’s economic recovery from the virus, which has left more than 200,000 people out of work.
NSW chose to never close state borders, meaning other parts of the country will be allowed to visit for recreational purposes.
But choosing to visit NSW comes at a cost for other states, like the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia, who may be asked to quarantine upon their return.
Boating and sailing are permitted in NSW from today, too.