According to the Palaszczuk government’s roadmap to easing restrictions, state-based and interstate travel won’t be reinstated before 10 July, with businesses warning that easing of travel restrictions so late down the track could be “too little, too late”.
As the call to open Queensland’s borders amplifies, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ), along with a number of chambers across Queensland, has reiterated calls to open travel to support local businesses.
“The government has an opportunity here to be agile and responsive by managing health advice with economic recovery and consider bringing forward that travel date, and detailing how far people will be able to travel,” CCIQ’s general manager, Amanda Rohan, said.
Ms Rohan explained that given that travel is essential to the livelihoods of many Queenslanders and the state’s economic recovery, the immediate issue of reconsidering travel restrictions is of “utmost importance”.
This week, the CCIQ-Suncorp Pulse Survey showed business confidence is at an all-time low, with the easing of travel restrictions expected to provide a needed boost to Queensland’s struggling businesses.
“Allowing Queenslanders to travel in our own state and opening our state’s borders is a huge issue, and we know that there are regions and businesses who rely heavily on interstate visitors, especially with school holidays around the corner,” Ms Rohan continued.
“Tourism is more than just visitors from interstate and overseas. Tourism is being able to visit family and friends, going on holidays and business travel — these are all important elements of getting Queensland moving again.”
Ms Rohan explained that allowing Queenslanders to travel and go for day drives, visit surrounding towns and book holidays at home, sooner rather than later, will get money flowing through the local economy.
“We realise it’s a step-by-step process, and the health and safety of everyone must always be a priority, but we have seen businesses adhere to rules and implement strategies to keep their staff and the public safe. They can do it, but we need to start giving them the opportunity to operate,” she said.
“When the current economic relief stimulus packages finish, if businesses haven’t had a chance to commence trading, there will be no income coming in, and bills are piling up.”
Ms Rohan noted that avoiding a second wave of business closures is imperative, as it could be detrimental to employment rates and long-term economic recovery.
‘No medical reason for border closure’
Earlier this week, the Australian deputy CMO said that from a medical point of view, “I can’t see why the borders are still closed”.
“At that time [when borders were closed], we were seeing large numbers of cases starting to develop, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria. And so I can understand why those decisions were made,” said deputy CMO Paul Kelly.
“From a medical point of view, I can’t see why the borders are still closed, but as I said, that’s for the states and territories themselves to decide when that time is right for them.”
The New South Wales state government announced earlier that all NSW travel will be unrestricted from 1 June, which includes travel for leisure and holidays.
However, travelling to Queensland is still restricted, as is travelling to South Australia, thanks to border crossing restrictions.
The Prime Minister has announced that Australia will proceed in an “orderly fashion” towards reducing coronavirus restrictions in Australia over three stages by July, but stressed that changes aren’t going to be made straight away.