The Gold Coast Mayor and the tourism industry have slammed comments by the Premier suggesting businesses are thriving and that there is no need for the Queensland’s borders to open sooner than planned.
- Gold Coast businesses are living week to week and desperately need the border to reopen ahead of schedule, Tom Tate says
- Annastacia Palaszczuk says the Mayor should focus on boosting vaccination rates so businesses can do “even better” when the state opens up again
- Business leaders and locals say the border bubble should be reinstated at the very least
Queensland’s roadmap to reopening will see the border open to COVID-19 hotspots for fully vaccinated residents, without the need to quarantine, from December 17.
This morning Annastacia Palaszczuk appeared on morning show Sunrise and criticised Mayor Tom Tate’s calls for an early reopening, suggesting businesses were doing well.
“I was down at Burleigh the other weekend and you’re hard pressed to find a cafe to get a seat at,” she said.
Ms Palaszczuk said the roads would be packed with people who would patronise Gold Coast businesses on December 17.
“I like Tom Tate, we get along really well — but he’s wrong on this particular point,” she said.
“He needs to be on board and driving vaccinations so the businesses will be able to do even better in the Christmas and New Year period”.
But Cr Tate said many businesses were still struggling to make ends meet.
“Small businesses are going broke, tourism is on its knees,” he said.
“I make no apologies for standing up for small business and I know many of them right now are operating week to week trying to juggle their finances.
“Every day counts when it comes to small business and tourism could even stretch it out to December 1 … but not December 17”.
Businesses ‘can’t survive’
Greater Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce president Hilary Jacobs said the Premier’s comments were “disingenuous” and that she should not comment on an area she did not know intimately.
“If you go to Coolangatta and that border region, it could be busy for a few hours on a weekend from people driving from Brisbane,” she said.
“Businesses can’t survive on two or three hours a week compared to 60 or 70 hours a week that they would normally have customers”.
She said the Premier’s comments did not make sense when the state government itself was funding a tourism campaign to help the devastated border region and offering hardship grants.
“That’s specifically for the border community because businesses are still struggling so badly,” she said.
“The businesses at the border are now able to get a hardship grant if their business has been impacted by more than 70 per cent.
“There shouldn’t be anybody needing that sort of help, but there is.
‘Too little, too late’
Gold Coast accommodation manager Marion Simon said she felt the state government’s roadmap for reopening on December 17 was “too little, too late”.
“We haven’t seen the increase that we were expecting,” she said.
“We saw a couple of bookings drop in last night, but they were standard bookings and certainly nothing after the 17th of December, so I don’t think they were bookings that we got because of the announcement.”
Ms Simon manages the Boulevard North apartments in Broadbeach, which has occupancy rates below 20 per cent for most of October and November.
“I understand it’s dependent on us getting the vaccinations,” she said.
Calls for bubble’s return
Ms Palaszczuk said there would be no changes for returning Queenslanders before December 17 and made no mention of other changes for border communities.
Ms Jacobs said a border bubble of some kind should be reinstated, which Cr Tate said he was advocating for.
“The disappointing thing is they don’t have any detail around the border community,” Ms Jacobs said.
“We’re calling for residents to have the opportunity to cross the border if they’re double-vaccinated, with a border pass, to do any of their normal daytime activities — not just going to work.