Worries for regional Queensland sector in lockdown

Snap lockdown shocker: it will be tough and hard on regional tourist towns

When the Queensland government announced a snap lockdown for much of the state this week the premier said she was “absolutely furious”. Business owners and operators across the Sunshine State and especially those in regional tourism towns echo her fury.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that lockdown measures had been put in place after a number of community transmitted cases of COVID were identified including those of a miner from the Northern Territory who returned to the Ipswich area and an unvaccinated health worker who travelled to Townsville while unknowingly infectious.

The health worker, a 19-year-old woman has since been confirmed as having the highly contagious Delta variant and was infectious in the Queensland community for 10 days before testing positive.

Ms Palaszczuk stated that she was “absolutely furious” and promised to investigate why this worker had not been vaccinated. She also expressed huge concerns about the movements of this person and the impact on (in particular) the regional communities.

A close contact of the 19-year-old worker has subsequently tested positive and others have developed symptoms and are in quarantine.

South East Queensland, Townsville, Magnetic Island, and Palm Island entered the three-day lockdown and the premier praised the volume of people in those locations who have promptly presented themselves to be tested.

The premier also thanked all Queenslanders for doing the right thing, she called for people to support their local businesses and remember to wear masks.

It is an especially worrying time for residents and business owners in Townsville where the 19-year-old health worker travelled while contagious.

Accom News contacted Townsville Enterprise CEO, Claudia Brumme-Smith who said: “Right now, the health of our community is key and we urge residents to lock down, get tested if required, and vaccinated as soon as possible.

She said: “We know that businesses across the region, particularly those in the tourism, hospitality and events sector will be greatly challenged by this lockdown.

“After 18 months of uncertainty and fluctuations of travel, our region was moving into a peak time – a time to regain what was lost. We understand and support public health coming first but to be now dealt this hand is a cruel blow to our business community.

“Prior to this lockdown we were looking at 70 percent occupancy across the city during school holidays, but now our busy events and holiday season is in a holding pattern.

“Our tourism, events and hospitality industry is at a critical point. Our focus is firmly on working with all levels of government on business assistance and industry recovery measures to not only get us through this lockdown but support long term recovery.”

Ms Brumme-Smith added: “We must emerge stronger together and we must see tourism industry recovery support now and going forward.”

To be hit by a sudden lockdown at the beginning of the mid-year school holiday period is especially devastating for the many small regional holiday hotspots along Queensland’s coastline, towns like Noosa, which is very dependant on tourism.

Noosa Mayor Clare Stewart admitted that it’s going to be a challenging time for many in Noosa but urged everyone to support each other.

Via social media, she stated: “I know it’s tough, I know it’s hard and I know its school holidays but if we adhere to the state guidelines and state health directives, we will get through this. We have done it before, and we will do it again.

“To the federal and state government I urge you to consider a small business package or a stimulus for our tourism sector, our business sector. We are a tourist town and this is school holidays and we stand with our tourism and our small businesses during this time.

“We are a resilient shire.”

A worried Noosa business owner said “We need help now for small business! Our casual workers will not get any pay – what is the Premier going to do to help us with rent and wages?”

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