Easter holiday plans have been saved at the eleventh-hour, with Queensland now hoping to benefit from a billion dollar “lifeline” to the state’s struggling tourism industry.
Greater Brisbane residents will be released from lockdown at 12pm on Thursday, allowing holiday-makers plenty of time to travel within the state for the long weekend.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she hoped Queenslanders would get out to support the state’s industry, and also welcomed the “record” number of people flying to the Gold Coast and Cairns.
“I’m hearing the Gold Coast Airport had a record day yesterday with the number of people coming into the Gold Coast,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Thursday morning.
“I understand Cairns Airport is doing well as well.
“So, look, we are expecting a very good Easter. We are lifting Greater Brisbane as being a hot spot and I’m asking all other leaders across the country to consider doing the same as well.”
Victoria has classified Greater Brisbane “a red zone” which means that non-residents from the state can’t enter without an exemption.
Western Australia introduced a hard border with Queensland meaning only travellers with exemptions could enter.
South Australia and Tasmania also closed their borders to Greater Brisbane.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said the industry was calling on other states to ease their hotspot classification.
“We want people to confidently come here and return to their home state, that’s important and that’s our call today,” he told NCA NewsWire.
“Domestic tourism in Queensland was almost $20 billion in 2020, that’s without international travellers … That’s well over $1 billion per month. Easter is critically important and businesses are hanging on by a fingernail to see some prosperity.
“It’s a billion-dollar proposition … It’s an enormous relief, and we hope the Easter holidays will deliver an absolutely necessary boost to the tourism industry.
“Do the right thing for yourself and your family, enjoy a great holiday and in doing so, support the future of jobs in Queensland.”
Mr Gschwind said he was now calling on the vaccine rollout to be accelerated, to ensure the tourism industry would not face the same uncertainty brought about by snap lockdowns again.
“We want it delivered efficiently to help prevent the necessity of such lockdowns in the future,” he said.
Ms Palaszczuk reminded interstate travellers that if they were heading to Queensland, they would need to abide by the same restrictions as residents.
“Really when you think about it, it’s a small thing to do, but it means that we can go out, support our businesses, support our tourism industry, and spend time with our loved ones which is, you know, a really special time of the year,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Around the NSW and QLD border, restrictions remain in place for the Byron, Ballina, Tweed and Lismore Shires.
Those restrictions include a maximum of 30 people inside people’s homes, the 4sqm rule applying to hospitality businesses, no standing up at hospitality venues, masks being mandatory in retail stores, on public transport, as well as by hospitality workers and drivers.
“We’re obviously asking the population of those four council areas to respect the restrictions we put in place until at least after Easter,’ NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“We’re confident that that won’t really prevent businesses from staying open it won’t prevent people from doing what they would normally do.”