Pack those bags Queenslanders, we’re going on a state road trip!
The Queensland Government announced on Sunday that they have brought forward Stage Two of easing coronavirus restrictions by almost two weeks.
That means from midday Monday, Queenslanders will be able to undertake unlimited travel by road, rail and air throughout the entire state, except for restricted areas.
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In some more good news, more locals will also be allowed in cafés, restaurants, pubs and clubs, with an increase in the number of customers from 10 to 20.
However, Premier Annastacia Palaczczuk said that could increase even more on Friday if businesses have a COVID Safe Plan in place.
“From noon on Friday, June 5, venues with more space will be allowed up to 20 people in each defined area if they follow an approved COVID Safe Industry Plan,” Ms Palaczczuk said.
From Monday, gatherings in homes, gyms and places of worship will also increase to 20 people.
Although the Premier stressed the easing of restrictions does not apply to biosecurity or restricted zones, which will remain in place to protect vulnerable indigenous communities.
Despite desperate pleas from the tourism industry and struggling local businesses, the Premier confirmed on Sunday that the border will remain closed for at least another month.
“Let me make it very clear, the border will remain closed for the month of June,” Ms Palaczczuk said.
“At the end of June we will actively consider all of the circumstances across the nation.. we will make a decision [on borders] at the end of the month.”
She instead encouraged Queenslanders to support local businesses by travelling throughout the state this month in what has been described as a “Queensland Bubble”.
“This will go a long way toward giving our critical tourism industry a welcome boost and I encourage Queenslanders to take advantage of the easing of rules around intrastate travel”.
The Premier said Queensland’s “outstanding response” to the Covid-19 pandemic had allowed the travel restrictions to be lifted ahead of a planned move to Stage Two, which was originally scheduled for June 12.
“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.
“From the Gold Coast to Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast to Gympie to Maryborough to Bundaberg, from Longreach to Mt Isa, to Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns, Queenslanders will now be able to rediscover their state, travelling for as many nights as they like.”
Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles reiterated that social distancing rules do still apply and urged businesses to ensure they’re enforcing them.
“From Friday this week, with a COVID safe plan, venues with more space will be able to go further and allow up to 20 people in each separate area, seated for meals or drinks,” he said.
“For example, some surf clubs, pubs and RSLs may have four or five defined separate indoor and outdoor areas – they can have 20 people in each of these areas if the areas are big enough.
“However, every venue must continue to adhere to strict social distancing rules including limiting each patron to an area of four square metres and adhere to hygiene protocols.”
Minister Miles said crowds standing at the bar does not support social distancing.
“I know many Queenslanders will look forward to having a drink out. It will be a different experience… you will need to be seated and be served by a waiter to order your drinks,” he said.
Today’s announcement comes after Queensland recorded zero new virus cases for the fourth day in a row.
Just five people in the state currently have the disease, with 1046 now fully recovered.
The state total remains at 1058.
Sunday, 31 May – coronavirus cases in Queensland:
• 0 new confirmed cases
• 5 active cases
• 1,058 total confirmed cases
• 195,437 tests conducted
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) May 31, 2020