Qld under the heat over breaking border promise

Qld under the heat over breaking border promise

Masks won’t be mandatory on Qantas flights, but new safety standards from June 12 will see extra cleaning and additional hygiene products. Cabin air on planes will be refreshed every five minutes.

“The way the cabin is set up, everyone is facing in the same direction with the seat essentially as a barrier in front of them,” Mr Joyce said.

There is growing frustration within the federal government as some states warn they will keep their borders closed to tourism while community transmission continues in NSW and Victoria.

The cautious Ms Palaszczuk, who is facing an election on October 31, said the border restrictions were reviewed at the end of every month. But she said would ultimately be guided by health advice.

“I will always put Queenslanders first, that’s my job,” she said.

“We’ve got to protect Queenslanders, their health is my number one priority. We will review at the end of each month.”

After the National Cabinet meeting a fortnight ago, Ms Palaszczuk outlined a three-stage road map out of the coronavirus lockdown.

Apart from schools re-opening to all students, cafes, bars and restaurants opening, borders were flagged to re-open on July 10.

Now the goal posts have been moved, with the state’s Chief Medical Officer Jeanette Young saying a September opening of borders would be a more “realistic” option.

“We need to hold firm and manage our domestic borders very carefully,” she said.

Ms Palaszczuk is at odds with Queensland tourism industry bodies who want interstate travellers to come to the Sunshine State for the June-July school holidays which is normally a peak time for the sector.

It is understood there is unrest amongst her ministerial colleagues, given every month the border remains closed costs the state’s tourism industry billions of dollars each month.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said he wanted the Palaszczuk government to stick to the original July date.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed. July 10 was in the original road map. We are hoping for the best case scenario to be realised,” Mr Gschwind said.

“The Premier has said all along this is based on advice from the Chief Health Officer and it is subject to the infection rate being managed well and as far as I can tell it has been.”

Mr Gschwind said tourism operators were “desperate” to rescue at least part of the winter holiday season.

He said the difference between a July re-opening and September was critical.

“It certainly makes it a lot harder to stay afloat. We can all hold our breath for a certain amount of time, but then you come up for air. The situation is dire,” he said.

Gold Coast tourism operator Anthony Ardern says they could move across the border to NSW. Paul Harris

Gold Coast tourism operator Anthony Ardern said ongoing border closures would force them to miss their peak whale watching season which coincided with the June/July school holidays.

The Tour Collective general manager – who operates four businesses including Sea World Cruises and Whales in Paradise – had stood down 85 staff and was struggling with existing restrictions on 20 people on boats when they normally take 600 people a day.

“We were getting excited and were ramping up but when we heard the Premier’s media reports this week we were saying “oh, no’,” Mr Ardern told The Australian Financial Review.

“There was light at the end of the tunnel, now the future is looking very shady.”

Mr Ardern said he had grown so frustrated with the ongoing uncertainty over the border opening that he was considering moving across the border to Tweed Heads in NSW.

“I’m toying with the idea,” he said. “But we definitely need the borders open and preferably with the travel bubble with New Zealand.”

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham and business groups warn lingering border closures will see more jobs lost.

“Australian jobs depend upon this, and the livelihoods of Australians depend upon it, and I don’t want to see them crippled unnecessarily so,” Senator Birmingham said.

Commonwealth deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said there was no health reason to stop interstate travel.

“From a medical point of view I can’t see why the borders are still closed but, that’s for the states and territories themselves to decide when that time is right for them.”

University of Adelaide emeritus professor of virology Chris Burrell said a return to domestic travel was a “calculated risk” as small amounts of new infections continue in Australia.

“I do think we’re in a good position now where we can start to free things up. Freeing up interstate travel is quite an important priority,” he said. “I’d wear a mask if I was flying.”

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