WAVE OF RELIEF WAVE OUR FEARS
QUEENSLAND has avoided a widespread COVID-19 outbreak, with Queenslanders now encouraged to embrace their freedoms by supporting local businesses and tourism operators ahead of the long weekend.
The Sunshine State recorded only one new coronavirus case on Monday, from an overseas arrival in hotel quarantine, as it was announced that tough restrictions at aged care facilities would be lifted.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the good results over the weekend meant Queensland had “avoided the risks of a widespread outbreak” following the cases that had returned from Melbourne last month.
It comes as Queensland continues to enjoy some of the most relaxed restrictions in the country, including gatherings of up to 100 at home and up to 50 per cent capacity at stadiums and concert venues.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she hoped the news would give Queenslanders added confidence to get out and support businesses as the southeast approaches the Ekka People’s Day long weekend.
“Everyone needs that help,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Hopefully that great news today will mean that Queenslanders will feel that they can go out and support each other as I know they will.”
The latest case was the first one Queensland had recorded in more than seven days, and comes after more than 150,000 people turned out for testing in the past fortnight.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said Queenslanders had come forward in their “droves” for testing as she encouraged anyone with any symptoms – no matter how mild – to get tested.
“That is the way we will prevent this spreading through our state,” she said.
“If we can get the first case – not the fourth case or the 50th case – if we can get the first case of infection and stop those chains of transmission, we will be able to manage it going forward.”
Restrictions placed on aged care homes earlier this month were also lifted from midday yesterday, with families allowed to visit their loved ones once again.
Dr Young said some additional protections would remain in place, including increased personal protective equipment and a requirement that staff as much as possible work at one site.
Treasurer Cameron Dick said the hard work and diligence of Queenslanders meant the state’s economy could reopen faster than other parts of the country.
“But so many workers and businesses across the state are still doing it tough,” he said.
“That’s why we will continue delivering on Queensland’s plan for economic recovery.”
Mr Dick said given how hard a second wave of lockdown measures could impact Queensland’s recovery, it was important for Queenslanders to keep up measures like social distancing and good hand hygiene.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland’s general manager of advocacy and policy, Amanda Rohan, said when comparing Queensland to other states, it was in a “good position” to be open and operating. “Some sectors are back working close to as they were before, with COVIDsafe plans and practices in place,” she said.
“For others, there are still restrictions in place impacting their level of trade and patronage. “While it’s great they are open, they are operating on much thinner margins, which will have ongoing viability impacts.”
Ms Rohan said they would like the 2 sqm ruled to be applied to more businesses, offset by hygiene measures.
National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb said the government could boost consumer confidence by investing in job creating infrastructure projects and potentially incentivising Queenslanders to holiday at home.
The Restaurant and Catering Association has also called for the state to pursue a suppression strategy and allow hospitality to go back to “business as usual” to as soon as possible.
Chief executive Wes Lambert said Queensland needed to accept small outbreaks at times and begin easing some restrictions.
“Suppression means there will be low numbers of cases,” Mr Lambert said.
“Business needs to begin return to normal” He said the most important thing to controlling the virus was a