Gold Coast leaders urge against overcautious response to Omicron

Local leaders are pleading with the state and federal government to make sure any response to the new covid variant is proportionate.

Health experts around the world are racing to determine the dangers of Omicron, which emerged in South Africa recently.

Various other countries have also picked up a few cases of the mysterious new strain, which is feared to be more contagious and more deadly.


There’s no evidence supporting the fears just yet, but it hasn’t stopped Australia from following other countries like the UK and the UK in closing their borders to nine African countries.

The Gold Coast Mayor is urging the governments not to make any further decisions, particularly surrounding borders, until they have evidence.

“I am concerned that our borders (Queensland) will remain shut, however, whatever decision is made should be made based on the scientific decision not overcautious decision, because it hurts the livelihood of especially people in Coolangatta,” Mayor Tom Tate said today.

Queensland authorities have already assured us that we’re still on track for the domestic border to reopen once the state hits the 80 per cent double dose vaccine mark, but admit they’ll take whatever action is recommended by health officials once there’s more information.

Related article: Qld border plans not changing despite Omicron concerns

Australia’s National Cabinet will meet over the next 48 hours, so will the National Security Committee and the AHPPC to determine if and when any further measures might need to be taken.

Earlier, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer insisted that there’s no need to panic just yet.

“There are some signs in South Africa, but particularly those in other countries and that number is growing overnight, that it is relatively mild compared with previous versions,” Mr Kelly told the ABC this morning.

“But it is early days and we need to be careful of that. But there’s no sign that it is more severe at the moment.

“It does transmit from person to person quite readily – at least at well as the Delta virus. And so that means that it will spread.

“In terms of the vaccines, there is no solid evidence at the moment that there is a problem with that.

“Although we will wait for further advice and laboratory studies in the coming days and weeks,” Mr Kelly said.

On a local level, tourism leaders are hopeful that the new variant won’t derail the domestic border reopening and the Christmas period, which business operators have been looking forward to for months.

Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O’Callaghan admits it would be devastating, but businesses are pretty resilient thanks to the last couple of years.

“At the moment we are hanging on and we know that this period is going to be critical for the survival of our industry,” Ms O’Callaghan said on Monday morning.

“A lot of these operators as I said we lost a billion dollars in the last quarter alone.

“For us, we do know that we’re living in the middle of a pandemic, we know that every day we can wake up and there is a new announcement.

“And they’ve adapted their business models to the point, where we’re taking each day as it comes, it is business as usual at the moment, but we’ll cross that bridge if there is a lockdown.

“And hopefully, that’s not anytime soon, or ever,” Ms O’Callaghan said.

Meantime, Mayor Tom Tate says that if the new variant prompts any further restrictions, the state and federal governments should be prepared to whip out their wallets once more.

“Financial support should be front and foremost to make sure that our small businesses especially in Coolangatta and Tweed survive.

“That’s what you’ve got to do, they’re going to be affected. And we should be really concentrating now on the bubble between the two cities, because people who live down there don’t recognise that there should be a border,” Mr Tate said.

Related article: PM calls for calm after new ‘Omicron’ variant arrives in Australia