Brisbane lockdown triggers calls for more industry support

29 March, 2021 by Dan Hughes

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced this morning that greater Brisbane will be moving into a three-day snap lockdown as of 5pm today after 10 new cases were recorded overnight.

Queensland Hotels Association told Australian Hotelier while it is devastated for consumers across the state, it hopes the lockdown will be eased in time for a busy trade weekend over the Easter holidays.

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“Obviously we are devastated by the anticipated effect this will have leading into Easter, however the health of our staff and patrons is absolutely paramount. Members that were barely getting back on deck after January lockdown were looking forward to this peak season in Queensland. We trust that the people in Queensland will be able to adhere to our COVID safe plans and be welcomed back as soon as possible,” QHA CEO Bernie Hogan said.

Palaszczuk told media of the 10 new cases overnight, six were overseas acquired and four were from community transmission. Two currently have unknown origins while two are under investigation with one believed to be a nurse from Princess Alexandra Hospital.

“There is now more community transmissions and these people have been out and about in the community. And that is now a concern to Queensland Health and of course a concern to me,” she told media.

“What this means for greater Brisbane is that we will have to go into a three-day lockdown. It is the UK strain which is highly infectious. We need to do this now to avoid a longer lockdown and it will commence at 5pm this afternoon.”

The lockdown affects areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton Bay and Redlands. Residents in those areas will only be allowed to travel outside for four essential services including food, exercise, essential work and medical.

Compulsory mask wearing was also announced for the remainder of the state after it was disclosed one of the positive cases travelled to Gladstone. Furthermore, Queenslanders will also be restricted to gatherings in their own homes of no more than 30 people.

Further calls for national industry help

In light of this lockdown, Australian Hotels Association CEO Stephen Ferguson has renewed calls for the Federal Government to provide immediate financial relief for hospitality workers and businesses.

“What we are seeing in Queensland today is yet more evidence struggling hospitality businesses need targeted, temporary assistance,” he said.

“COVID is not over, lockdowns can still happen, border closures can still happen and tourism and hospitality businesses are heavily impacted. This could not have come at a worse time. With JobKeeper ending, Queensland businesses were already worried – now their Easter trade state-wide will be decimated in the lead up to a traditionally very busy period.

“We understand government restrictions are in place to keep Australians safe and we are proud of the role we have played. But the fact remains while keeping us safe, these limitations come at huge cost to business owners and workers – and will continue to do so. Given the vaccine rollout is predicted to be completed in about six months, what we are again asking for is targeted, temporary relief for the relatively small number of hospitality and accommodation venues which continue to be significantly impacted by Government imposed restrictions.”

Restaurant & Catering Industry Association CEO Wes Lambert said the three-day lockdown is a “heartbreaking, crushing blow to the hospitality sector across South East Queensland”.

“With school holidays and Easter just days away, the recently announced lockdown could be the final blow for many businesses who have spent more than 12 months struggling to survive.”

He said the state’s hospitality industry has reached a tipping point and this lockdown may be the catalyst for several businesses to close their doors.

“However, this lockdown is different. There is no JobKeeper safety net for these businesses, and little to no support will be forthcoming until after the lockdown is over. This means more staff stood down, up to $50 million in lost revenue, and nearly $15 million in produce and stock thrown away, with more debt piling up.

“R&CA has been warning governments across the country that as long as lockdown remained an active policy response, business support needs to continue. This recent lockdown should accelerate any plans for stimulus and support from the Queensland and Federal Governments.

“With one of the busiest tourism periods upon us, this announcement means one thing for thousands of restaurants and cafes across not just greater Brisbane, but all of Queensland: Chaos,” Lambert explained.

The Queensland Government will conduct a further review of community transition on Wednesday night.