Queensland has brought forward the next stage of easing COVID-19 restrictions by almost two weeks with intrastate travel allowed from Monday, but the borders will remain closed until at least July.
Queenslanders will be able to travel statewide, pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes will be able to seat up to 20 patrons and gatherings of up to 20 people in homes and in gyms will be permitted from midday on Monday.
Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said travel restrictions regarding remote and vulnerable indigenous communities will remain in place.
Twenty spectators will be allowed to attend community sporting fields after restrictions, originally listed to have come into effect on June 12, were brought forward.
Queensland’s easing comes as Victoria extends its state of emergency after a spike in COVID-19 infections.
However, Premier Annastacia Palaczczuk has stood firm and will not reopen the borders until at least July, despite just five active COVID-19 cases throughout Queensland.
“Let me make it very clear, the border will remain closed for the month of June,” she said.
Ms Palaczczuk wants Queenslanders to travel statewide to support hotels and tourism operators with the possibility pubs, clubs and restaurants can open to more than 20 people from June 5.
She said they were working with the hospitality industry to further open their businesses by next Friday with 20 people per designated area, providing it meets the one person per four square metre restrictions.
However, all patrons must be seated, staff can only work in an assigned area and only table service will be permitted.
“I know it’s been difficult and you’ve continued your takeaway, but now you can go up to 20,” Ms Palaczczuk said.
“If you have a COVID-19 safe plan in place and you have extra capacity as per the four square metre rule, you can have 20 people in each section.
“We will definitely review that (opening borders) at the end of June.”
Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the government had missed a “massive” opportunity to reopen the interstate borders and was turning a health crisis into economic crises.
“Give businesses and certainty and clarity and bring the border opening to July,” Ms Frecklington said.
Stage 2 restrictions were brought forward after zero new positive tests overnight on Saturday for COVID-19, while just five cases remain active in Queensland.
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
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said the reopening of the state and the allowing of overnight stays would reignite the tourism industry which was reeling from closures.
“The easing of restriction at an accelerated rate faster than the roadmap predicted is…enormously welcome,” he told reporters.
Queensland Hotels Association CEO Bernie Hogan said they were seeking clarity on staff movements within a premises because restricting them to only one section was not financially viable for many operators.