Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has declared that “Easter is good to go”, with the most severe lockdown restrictions due to end at 12 p.m. local time on Thursday, the day before the Easter holidays begin.
“After discussions … the lockdown will be lifted from 12 noon today,” Palaszczuk told reporters on Thursday.
The premier hopes that allowing Queenslanders freedom to move about from 12 p.m. will help avoid or reduce road collisions and accidents that typically occur on congested roads during the Easter period.
“I understand a lot of families in the Greater Brisbane [region] have made plans, and the last thing we want to see are accidents on our roads at 5 p.m. this afternoon, into the evening,” she said. “So, if you have plans, the lockdown is lifted from 12 noon today, and I encourage people to take care on the roads.
“Please be safe and enjoy your time away with family and friends,” she said.
This comes after Queenslanders met the two preconditions Palaszczuk required to lift the restrictions by Thursday: that new community-acquired case numbers stayed low, and that testing remained high.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Palaszczuk said, after over 34,000 Queenslanders came forward to be tested since Wednesday, and only one community-acquired case was reported. Nine cases were reported in hotel quarantine.
Palaszczuk also called on all leaders across the country to consider lifting hot-spot travel restrictions.
Some Restrictions Remain for Next 14 Days
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the state was not completely out of danger yet, but said she determined that the lockdown wasn’t required to manage the outbreak any longer.
As such, Queensland Health has declared that the following restrictions are still in place across the entire state until April 15:
- You must carry a face mask at all times. You must wear a face mask in all indoor public spaces and outdoors when you cannot adhere to social distancing rules.
- Cafés and restaurants can return to seated eating and drinking. No standing.
- 30 people can gather at your home.
- 500 people can gather in public spaces (outdoors).
- Weddings are allowed 200 guests.
Young said the restrictions on private home guests was important because “that’s where transmission first happens,” she said.
She gave the example of the outbreak in Byron Bay, which occurred at a private house rented through Airbnb for a bachelorette party, resulting in “virtually all of them” becoming infected.
Business Industry Response
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) welcomed the news but said they are advocating for a safety net and more certainty for any future restrictions that impact businesses.
“This is great news for Queensland businesses to be able to open over Easter and maximise opportunities over the long weekend,” it said in a message to members.
CCIQ wants government support for businesses that were forced to close or were heavily impacted in declared hotspot areas.
“In a survey of CCIQ members this week, we’ve heard that SMEs expected to lose between $12,000 and $65,000 due to loss of stock and trade as a result of the Greater Brisbane lockdown,” CCIQ said. “We are now asking for a COVID-19 Hotspot Recovery Package that could be implemented efficiently to provide grants and funding to hotspot affected businesses.”