Advocacy Alert: Urgent Review of Density Restrictions

Ease density restrictions to help save struggling hospitality sector.

Townsville Enterprise and Townsville Chamber of Commerce are encouraging the State Government to immediately ease restrictions on businesses to avoid the potential collapse of many tourism and hospitality operators in the north.

The peak body organisations said the move would align with other Australian States and Territories which allow for increased patronage while maintaining strong COVID-19 protections. 

In Queensland venues larger than 200 sqm are required to adopt a 1 person per 4 sqm rule. The organisations have written to the Premier requesting the 1 person per 2 sqm rule apply across all businesses to help the tourism and hospitality sector. This is consistent with South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and Northern Territory governments, which are maintaining no or low new case numbers. 

The local business community was following health advice and working hard to create COVID safe environments for customers; however the financial and emotional strain of keeping businesses afloat is having a real impact on our owners and staff, which is also affecting the customer experience.

Six months on and some of our local businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector are down up to 70% of their revenue. We have asked the Premier and Chief Health Officer to fully consider the policy settings given the potential loss of whole industries that are the lifeblood of our communities, as well as critical job drivers for our regional economy.

The changes to restrictions are important to also support businesses through the next economic challenges during the scaling back of JobKeeper payments. While JobKeeper has provided a level of support, as it begins to wind back, many businesses will be unable to continue trading and this will mean devastation for local communities.

From the Chief Executive Officer, Patricia O'Callaghan

Evidence from other states show we can ease restrictions responsibly and help get businesses back on their feet. We are requesting the density rule of 1 person per 2sqm to be adopted for all Local Government Areas outside of the current restricted LGAs. Further easing of restrictions, such as allowing standing while drinking and eating, should also be considered through an updated roadmap.

The Queensland Government’s roadmap to easing restrictions was developed with the best health advice at the time, and provided for an easing of restrictions to a 1 person in 2 sqm rule for venues under 200 sqm. However, it has been more than four months since the roadmap was launched and more than 60 days since there has been any further easing of restrictions.

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