Gladstone businesses cautious but eager as borders reopen
TOURISM and business sectors in the Gladstone region are celebrating the Queensland Government announcement borders will reopen on July 10, but remain cautious about COVID-19 impacting locals.
Since the pandemic began its global spread in February, the Gladstone Local Government Area has recorded only one case of the virus, with the patient recovering.
From July 10, tourists from all states except Victoria can apply for a border pass either online or at the border, and cross into Queensland.
GADPL chief executive Gus Stedman said the announcement was extremely welcome, but recent developments had the sector concerned.
"This is certainly a step in the right direction (but) the outbreak in Victoria is a reminder of how contagious this virus is, and we need to be very cautious on how we proceed," he said.
"The border announcement has been made on medical advice and the health and safety of our community is paramount."
The impact to the tourism sector has been devastating, but there is a positive outlook for the future.
"The losses in the region would now be into the tens of millions whereas in Queensland the losses to the economy would be in the billions," Mr Stedman said.
"There is no more resilient sector of the economy than small business however it will take years for some to recover."
Given Gladstone's fantastic progress in combating COVID, Mr Stedman said rules must continue to be followed.
"The reaction from the tourism sector has been positive; however at this stage we need to keep up with all of the social distancing and hygiene measures, to ensure we sustain our suppression of the virus in Queensland," he said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made no apologies about keeping the borders shut to keep Queenslanders safe.
"I understand the global pandemic has impacted businesses including the tourism industry but the health and wellbeing of Queenslanders has always been my priority," she said.
"I make no apologies for keeping Queenslanders safe, supporting businesses and easing restrictions in a measured way.
"What's happening in Victoria could happen anywhere and we'll continue to offer them support."