FI­NALLY FREE

LET’S DRINK TO A NEW NOR­MAL

The Courier-Mail - - FRONT PAGE - JES­SICA MARSZALEK

QUEENS­LAN­DERS will taste free­dom from Fri­day as COVID re­stric­tions tum­ble across the state, al­low­ing for a busi­ness re­vival worth bil­lions. It’s un­der­stood re­lax­ing the lat­est round of re­stric­tions from Fri­day will pump $520 million a month into the econ­omy and sup­port an ad­di­tional 50,000 jobs.

QUEENS­LAN­DERS will taste free­dom from Fri­day as COVID re­stric­tions tum­ble across the state, al­low­ing for a busi­ness re­vival worth bil­lions.

Peo­ple will be al­lowed to throw house par­ties, drink a beer at the bar, get mar­ried in front of their loved ones, go to con­certs, cheer on the kids at week­end sport and get back to the of­fice af­ter the gov­ern­ment brought for­ward the fi­nal re­lax­ation of re­stric­tions by a week.

It’s un­der­stood re­lax­ing the lat­est round of re­stric­tions from Fri­day will pump $520 million a month into the econ­omy and sup­port an ad­di­tional 50,000 jobs - and that’s with­out adding in the eco­nomic boon com­ing from the re­open­ing of bor­ders to in­ter­state tourists from July 10.

The news of the so­cial and bor­der re­lax­ations was cel­e­brated across the board, with busi­nesses who have been strug­gling to hold on say­ing they could fi­nally op­er­ate vi­ably again.

From Fri­day, busi­nesses such as restau­rants and cafes will have no caps on num­bers of pa­trons, as long as they are abid­ing by the 4sq m rule.

Smaller venues will be able to have as many as 50 pa­trons, as long as they can fol­low a 2sq m rule.

Peo­ple can wel­come up to 100 peo­ple into their homes in what will fi­nally al­low friends and fam­ily to cel­e­brate mile­stones to­gether again, and wed­dings and fu­ner­als can go ahead with 100 at­ten­dees.

Big events of more than 10,000

peo­ple will be al­lowed, but they must fol­low strict rules in­clud­ing ap­proval from the Chief Health Of­fi­cer.

In a boost for the arts, con­cert venues, the­atres and au­di­to­ri­ums will re­open to re­duced crowd num­bers that will be capped at 50 per cent ca­pac­ity, or one per­son per 4sq m.

Casi­nos will be al­lowed to re­open their doors and pun­ters will be al­lowed to play the pok­ies as clean­ing is ramped up. More spec­ta­tors will pack into sta­di­ums, with the ca­pac­ity lifted to a max­i­mum of 25,000 peo­ple or 50 per cent ca­pac­ity.

And night­clubs will re­open with COVID-Safe plans, with the Premier en­cour­ag­ing pa­trons to “lis­ten to the mu­sic” while ex­er­cis­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing.

Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk thanked Queens­lan­ders for their hard work, which had al­lowed au­thor­i­ties to gift back these free­doms.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the an­nounce­ment meant a greater re­turn to nor­mal­ity.

“For small busi­nesses like restau­rants and cafes, for couples get­ting mar­ried, for young peo­ple want­ing to cel­e­brate their 21st at home, for com­mu­nity sport­ing teams and their spec­ta­tors, for sports fans, mu­seum go­ers and event man­agers, life has got­ten eas­ier,” he said.

But the new-found free­doms came with a warn­ing from Chief Health Of­fi­cer Dr Jean­nette Young, who said Queens­land was not out of dan­ger yet. Dr Young urged peo­ple to con­tinue so­cial dis­tanc­ing and for sick peo­ple to stay at home and get tested so au­thor­i­ties could stop out­breaks.

“This is a virus,” she said. “We’re not go­ing to be able to keep it out. We just have to recog­nise it as quickly as pos­si­ble when it hap­pens here in Queens­land. That is crit­i­cal.”

CCIQ gen­eral man­ager of ad­vo­cacy and pol­icy Amanda Ro­han said lift­ing re­stric­tions for pubs, clubs and sta­di­ums would “breathe some life” into busi­nesses and com­mu­ni­ties.

“Busi­nesses have been tread­ing wa­ter to keep them­selves afloat and can now be­gin mov­ing for­ward – some­thing they have been des­per­ately want­ing to do,” she said. “Today is good news, and we hope it will be fol­lowed by more to come, so we can re­ally get Queens­land mov­ing again.”

But she said the re­opened bor­ders would not “mag­i­cally undo” the dam­age in­flicted upon busi­nesses in re­cent months and warned there was still a long road to get back on track.

Restau­rant and Cater­ing Aus­tralia’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Wes Lam­bert said the in­jec­tion of in­ter­state tourists would be great for cafes and restau­rants but it wasn’t a re­turn to busi­ness as usual.

“It will cer­tainly im­prove the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try but the in­dus­try re­mains down as the in­ter­na­tional bor­ders re­main closed as in­ter­na­tional tourists spent 30 cents of ev­ery dol­lar on ac­com­mo­da­tion and food ser­vices,” Mr Lam­bert said.

Clubs Queens­land act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Dan Nip­per­ess said COVID-Safe plans were al­ready in place as clubs looked for­ward to wel­com­ing pa­trons in greater num­bers.

Pic­ture: Josh Won­ing

Mad­di­son Bren­nan and Si­mon Gloftis of Hel­lenika at The Calile Ho­tel.

Pic­ture: Nigel Hal­lett

A po­lice of­fi­cer at the state’s south­ern bor­der with NSW, set to re­open on July 10.

Pic­ture: Josh Won­ing

Restau­ra­teur Si­mon Gloftis and Mad­di­son Bren­nan at The Calile Ho­tel.

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