What’s needed to re-open the region’s campgrounds
THE CLOSURE of council managed campgrounds across the Gladstone region has spread across the nation and angered some local tourism related businesses.
But there are ways to ensure compliance with health regulations that can enable these campgrounds to operate, which include obtaining a government approved COVID safe plan.
Gladstone Regional Council announced the closure of campgrounds from midday July 28, on July 24, via a statement.
The GADPL and other tourism operators told The Gladstone Observer they were not notified of the closure plans by council.
"In order to meet the public health direction, council would be required to have staff in attendance at its five campgrounds located across the Gladstone Region at all times, which would come at a significant cost for ratepayers," Mayor Matt Burnett said in a statement.
"GRC does not have the staffing and financial resources to service the operational requirements that are necessary to meet public health direction COVID safe requirements for campgrounds.
"Council is committed to ensuring community health and safety, continuing to follow COVID-19 health directives from Queensland Health and the Queensland and Australian Governments."
Tourism operators including Curtis Ferry Services owner Adam Balkin have expressed their frustration at the decision.
Just days after the closure of the campgrounds, Mr Balkin said he had met with council to discuss the issue.
"The wheels are in motion, how fast the wheels turn is a different thing," he said.
"We need to get a plan and the wheels need to turn quickly to reverse but the damage has been already been done to the brand.
"Hundreds and thousands of dollars will be spent to get that brand back on point."
Mr Balkin said on July 30 more than $10,000 a day of tourism income per campground would be lost to the region.
On July 31, it was reported GRC was working toward a solution to reopen campgrounds.
"Gladstone Regional Council is currently investigating options which would allow us to reopen council-managed campgrounds in line with the public health direction COVID safe requirements for campgrounds," Cr Burnett said.
"GRC is committed to ensuring community health and safety and will provide an update on the status of council-managed campgrounds in due course."
GRC has been contacted to see if any progress had been made on reopening the campgrounds, with council advising last week that The Observer will be informed of any updates.
In response to questions about informing council of what was required to ensure compliance, the Queensland Government Strategic Communication Branch advised a covid safe plan can be applied for.
"The purpose of this COVID safe plan is to help Queensland outdoor recreation activity providers show the health authorities and the community that they operate sufficiently, safely and can service more participants/customers than the baseline restrictions at each stage in Queensland's Roadmap to Easing Restrictions," a government statement said.
"By operating in open spaces, the risks associated with COVID-19 are reduced, however those risks can be further reduced through the implementation of practical measures by outdoor recreation activity providers."
To comply with the COVID safe plan, all outdoor recreation activity providers must ensure they do the following:
* Limit co-mingling of groups in participation.
* Management and, where viable, segmentation of groups of participants through scheduling of activities.
* Implementation of strict hygiene measures at entry and exit points, communal areas and management of equipment.
"Each outdoor recreation activity provider will complete a specific COVID safe operational plan to show methods of compliance with the points outlined and approved in this industry COVID safe plan and currently available health advice," the statement said.
"If there are multiple activities being undertaken at a venue/facility (for example - dining, outdoor recreation, outdoor education, approved training courses, tourism, fitness or sports), several approved industry plans may apply."
Click here for more information on specific industry COVID safe plans.
Gladstone Regional Council was contacted for comment.
The campgrounds still closed are:
* Lilley's Beach, Boyne Island
* Futter Creek Camping Reserve, Boynedale
* Calliope River Picnic Area, River Ranch
* The Oaks Camping Ground, Facing Island
* South End Camping Ground, Curtis Island.