Bye Corona: Queensland is almost back in business
QUEENSLANDERS will be the envy of the world when they get their first taste of freedom next week as mothballed businesses including cafes, restaurants and beauty salons throw open their doors.
Playgrounds will reopen and up to 10 people will be able to gather outside in one group, while up to five people from different households will be allowed to visit another home.
The plan, unveiled by the State Government on Friday and modelled on a national blueprint released by the Prime Minister hours earlier, involves three stages to kickstart Queensland's economy, with the first starting on May 16.
Businesses including beauty salons, cafes, restaurants, pubs and other registered and licensed clubs will be allowed to open, but with only 10 customers inside at any one time.
Customers will need to book in advance, meaning people will not be allowed to wait around for a seat.
Beauty services including waxing, facials and nail salons can also open, with all businesses who wish to operate from next week to contact their industry body who will lodge a COVID-safe plan with Queensland Health for approval.
Social distancing requirements will need to be adhered to.
Weddings will be allowed 10 guests while funerals will be allowed 20 people inside the service and 30 outside.
Each stage will be reviewed after four weeks, with Stage 2 expected to begin on June 13, before the school holidays.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state couldn't rush the return to normality.
"We know how important our industries are to our state, our tourism industry is over $12 billion, the retail industry over $15 billion and of course our hospitality, cafe, restaurant (and) accommodation is also a multi-billion dollar industry and there are thousands of people out there that work in those industries and people and businesses want certainty," she said.
"It's going to look a bit different but we'll back each other and get through this together."
Stage 2 will allow gatherings of up to 20 visitors at homes, with the same number of people allowed in restaurants, pubs, clubs and cafes.
Holidaying within your own region, meaning driving, will also be permitted.
Under Stage 3, which would come into effect on July 10, up to 100 people will be allowed at some public gatherings.
This includes weddings, funerals, sporting clubs, places of worship, museums, galleries, open homes and auctions.
But despite raising the possibility of opening travel for overseas students in stage three, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there was "nothing on our radar which would see us opening up international travel in the foreseeable future".
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said Queensland would not be using the COVID-safe app in any "mandatory manner", but still urged people to download it.
She said they did not yet know how many Queenslanders had installed it.
The Premier said the stages would be assessed monthly.
"We'll be reviewing our borders of course, and if the rates of transmission track lower in NSW and Victoria we will look at enabling interstate travel but let me put the proviso on - that is going to be based on health advice and I will not put Queenslanders or Queensland families at risk," she said.
Businesses could be able to have more than 20 customers if their COVID-safe plans are approved for Stage 2.
Restrictions could be put back in place for a particular community if there is an outbreak that can't be managed through contact tracing.
The timeline for schools reopening has not changed, with the Government hoping to have all students back by May 25, depending on cases.
Mr Morrison said people should be encouraged "we are successfully making our way through this difficult battle".
"We're certainly doing it better than many and most around the world today," he said.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said there wasn't unanimous agreement on each step in the road map with some states not wanting to open cafes and restaurants.
While Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington welcomed the changes, she urged the Premier to treat areas including Townsville and Mackay like those in the outback that have more freedom under the easing of restrictions.
Mum Lousie Bezzina says her kids are so excited for the playgrounds to reopen.
"Isabella will be really, really happy, it has been hard for her to understand why the parks have been closed and it has been a hard image to see the swings tied up," she said.
Originally published as Bye Corona: Queensland back in business