Get ready for more freedom in Queensland, restrictions ease from midday tomorrow

| 31.05,20. 06:24 PM |

Get ready for more freedom in Queensland, restrictions ease from midday tomorrow

Nurses and medical staff in Rockhampton in Central Queensland, where more than 1,500 tests have been completed.(Supplied: Queensland Health)

The Queensland Premier has announced a major easing of restrictions in Queensland, with unlimited travel including overnight stays allowed throughout the state from midday tomorrow.

"From tomorrow, Queenslanders will be able to travel anywhere within Queensland," Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

She said she was "opening the doors" to Queensland tourism, and encouraged people to take trips to places they had not been before.

Ms Palaszczuk said the announcement made the whole state of Queensland its own "travel bubble".

One caveat remains in place for Indigenous communities, where travel is still restricted under the biosecurity act.

She also announced gatherings of up to 20 people would also be allowed.

She said restaurants, cafes, and pubs operating under a COVID-safe checklist would also be able to increase their total number of patrons from 10 to 20.

Ms Palaszczuk said she would consider easing border restrictions at the end of June.

The Queensland Government had given itself until today to decide which restrictions will be eased next.

Stage Two of easing restrictions was scheduled to begin on June 12, but the Deputy Premier Steven Miles said it had been brought forward.

Mr Miles said gyms could also re-open from tomorrow, and from Friday they could increase patronage to up to 20 people in each section, as long as they had submitted a "COVID-safe" plan.

No new cases of coronavirus were recorded in the state overnight.

Queenslanders ready for restrictions to ease
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said the Government was aware people want to do more.

"There's no doubt about it, that Queenslanders are ready to start to move a bit further," Mr Crawford said.

He said it had been a "milestone" for venues to open for 10 people.

"[But] for a lot of those businesses, 10 people is not enough to try to be able to make a profit — we're aware of that," he said.

"It is certainly our intention, to get every cafe, every restaurant, every nightclub, every pub back up and running again.

"We want those jobs returned, we want those people back working and we want to be able to get the nightlife and the tourism back again, but it's about staging it."

Hospitality industry ready
The general manager of Brisbane's Regatta Hotel, Scott Vickers, said the hospitality industry was ready.

"We've had three weeks now from the announcement of Stage Two to where we are today.

"So we've got all of our COVID-safe protocols in place … our staff have been very heavily trained in the delivery of service with the COVID-19 restrictions in place," Mr Vickers said.

Pre-COVID-19, the Regatta Hotel could cater for 2,000 patrons a day between its bars and restaurants.

He said now that the safety measures were in place and staff were trained in safe-service, it would be easy to open up for more patrons,

"We've got the square meterage available to us in here, and we've got it all mapped out. So if we were to, to be able to have more people in, I think we would be able to operate it very, very safely," Mr Vickers said.

Borders won't open yet
Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander said Queensland's borders should be opened to coincide with school holidays in the southern states.

"Queenslanders have been successful in flattening the curve, so now it's time to make sure we kickstart the economy," he said.

"We have the tourism industry, local businesses, the hospitality industry on its knees at the moment, so we need to loosen these restrictions as quickly as possible."

But the State Government wants to see a drastic reduction in coronavirus transmission in other states before it decides to open up.

"The strong approach that the Queensland Government has taken, based on expert medical and health advice, has saved lives and it will continue to save lives," Police Minister Mark Ryan said.

In the CBD yesterday, hundreds of people flouted the Government's ban on mass gatherings, voicing conspiracy theories through the streets of Brisbane.

They claimed the pandemic was a "scam" and were also protesting vaccinations and 5G technology.

North Rockhampton nursing home cleared
Meanwhile, the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre in Central Queensland, which had a case of COVID-19 diagnosed in a staff member, was cleared on Friday.

Each resident went through four rounds of testing, with more than 1,500 tests conducted in the community public testing facilities.

CQ Health chief executive Steven Williamson said on Friday he was extremely relieved there were no further cases identified at the centre.

"Our amazing team threw everything they possibly could into getting this result, and I could not be prouder," Mr Williamson said.

"I cannot understate the level of anxiety we all experienced when we first got the news at 8:00pm on that Thursday night that a staff member had tested positive.

"Our team acted quickly and decisively with the sole objectives of keeping residents and staff safe."

Mr Williamson said some residents would start to move back to their original accommodation gradually from June 1, with visiting restrictions being lifted from June 5.

"We're very keen for our residents to return as much as possible to their normal routine, while still keeping them safe after an unsettling few weeks," Mr Williamson said.

The nurse remains under investigation by Queensland Health as a possible link to the case of a Blackwater man who died this week.


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