Stage Three Starts Today

As you no doubt have heard, Queensland enters Stage Three of COVID-Safe Restrictions at noon today. What will that mean? Here’s a quick run-down.

Border Restrictions

Despite the PM’s best “cat-herding” skills, the states are all doing slightly different things, so if you or your loved ones are travelling across state borders, best to google exactly what each state will be asking of you. This link will take you to details on all states, but here is a rough guide:

  • Borders Open with No RestrictionsNSW, ACT, Victoria
  • Closed IndefinitelyWA
  • Currently Closed but Hoping to Re-openSA (July 20), Tas (July 24)
  • Borders Open, Declaration Required, Quarantine for Hot Spot Travellers – NT and Queensland.

Be aware that you will be required to quarantine if you are coming from a Hot Spot and entering either Queensland or the NT  .

In both jurisdictions, the quarantine will be for 14 days in a hotel of the Government’s choosing and at the traveler’s expense. In Queensland, one person will have to pay about $2,800, two people about $3,700.

In Queensland, anyone who has been in Victoria in the last 14 days from today will fall into this category. This will apply even if you are a returning Queenslander. This link will give you more details.

From July 10, our borders will be open to all other jurisdictions but you will have to complete a Queensland Declaration Pass and new Hot Spots may be declared if other areas experience clusters of infection at future dates.

A Welcome Adjustment

This is a much better arrangement for Queenslanders than pretending the border is closed while waving through thousands every day. Now we should be targeting only those who are a risk to us.

By bringing it in early, we may still benefit from the second week of the NSW school holidays. Many of our tourism businesses are on a knife’s edge of survival. It will also help sustain the aviation industry which is vital to the livability of Queensland’s regional towns.

Gathering Restrictions Eased

From midday today many gathering restrictions will be eased in Queensland. Here is a rundown, although at the time of writing new detailed information does not seem to have been uploaded to the web sites as yet, such as COVID19-safe check lists or plans.

Private Parties

You are now allowed to invite up to 100 family and friends to a private party at your home. Clearly, you will still need to be aware of hygiene and social distancing, although it is very hard not to hug and kiss.

Once again, we can celebrate milestones in our family lives from special birthdays and anniversaries to births and christenings.

Funerals and Wakes

You are now allowed to have up to 100 mourners at a funeral. Funeral restrictions have been among the most troubling, so this is welcome news.

However, social distancing and hygiene must be observed. A record of mourners’ names, addresses and phone numbers should be kept for 56 days for contact tracing if needed.

Clearly, all mourners should now be able to attend a wake as well. If the wake is being held at a hotel or events venue, that venue should be operating to an approved COVID-Safe Plan that will take care of the details for you.

If it is a private wake it will come under the ruling for private parties.

Bells Will Ring

Weddings, too, can now invite up to 100 guests. The same comments apply as for funerals.

Restaurants, Pubs and Cafes

New “Patron Limits” have been causing a little confusion for restaurants and cafes in Gregory. Again, clear communication on this has not been published on the Queensland Government website yet.

The Four Square Metre Rule
Previously restaurants, pubs and cafes have operated with a set number, 20, customers allowed. Now the number of the customers allowed will be based on the “Four Square Metre” rule instead. This has a scientific basis.

To work it out, you measure your site. Multiply the length by the width and divide by four. That gives you the number of patrons you are allowed at any one time.

Then the 1.5 Metre Rule

Once inside, all patrons must also comply with the 1.5 metre social distancing rule. This is important and I ask people not to ignore the distancing arrangements put in place by dragging tables together and moving stools around.

Queensland Police Liquor Licensing units have been slapping large fines on country pubs for not observing the COVID19 rules sufficiently.

Small Venues – Less than 200 Square Metres
The Four Square Metre Rule won’t apply to you. Instead, you can have one person for every 2 square metres to a maximum of 50 people.

I don’t know why science is being suspended for smaller venues and I suspect the greater difficulty for them will be enforcing the 1.5 metre social distancing once the customers are inside. So, I doubt it will make much difference to them. All it does is confuse everyone.

All the Other Requirements Are Still in Place

All the other requirements – the COVID-Safe Industry Plan and the COVID-Safe Checklist must still be observed.

For instance, venues must still keep contact information on every person on the premises, for contact tracing purposes. That is staff and customers. The information must be kept for 56 days. It must include date and time of patronage, name, address and mobile phone number.

Unfortunately, updated plans and checklists reflecting Stage Three do not seem to have been published on the Queensland Government website.

This link takes you to the official Health Direction. Scroll down to the “Definitions” and you will see embedded links for COVIDSafe Plans and Checklists. When these are updated, this is an easy way to find them.

Everyone Else – Please, Help Your Host

I ask all readers to be as helpful as they can be in observing the restrictions as the fines for your host are hefty enough to put some out of business altogether given the perfect “storm” of epic drought, COVID Safe trading restrictions and a failed tourism season.

Breasting the Bar and Playing the Pokies

Previously patrons have had to remain seated and wait for table service. From today you will be able to order and collect food and drinks at the bar again. Please observe the 1.5 metre social distancing when queueing at the bar, just as you do in shops.

Pokie rooms will also be able to reopen with social distancing requirements observed.

Museums, Galleries, Libraries and Historic Sites

These venues too will now be allowed to operate under the Four Square Metre Rule. This is a great boon for many of our Gregory attractions.

Heading for the Big Smoke?

If you are heading to Brisbane or one of our coastal cities and want to catch a show, the good news is that concert venues, theatres and auditoriums can re-open at either 50 per cent capacity or one person per four square metres.

Cinemas are also allowed to re-open but are still limited to 20 customers.

Food Courts are also being allowed to re-open.

Stadium events of over 10,000 are allowed under strict COVID Safe event plans.

Community Sport a Big Winner

The Stage Three rules allow both contact and non-contact sport to re-start at the community level. I am quoting the website here , but yet again this has not been updated to reflect this week’s announcements. So do keep checking as some of the media reports are at odds with it, quoting larger numbers.

Netball and Footy Are Back

This means that contact training and contact competition can resume. Community netball and football codes are back.

Spectators are Back

Spectators, up to 100 people, are also allowed back and crowds of less than 500 people will not need approval when following a COVIDSafe Event Checklist. Read more here.

Gyms, Yoga and Personal Training

Outdoor training and gyms can operate with up to 100 people, with the one person per Four Square Metre rule applying.

Indoor gyms, personal training and yoga can also resume with the Four Square Metre rule applying for up to 100 people.

School Sports

Representative and inter-school sports competitions will be able to resume in Term 3 with COVIDSafe requirements applying.

Spectators at Stadium Sports

Up to 25,000 spectators or 50 per cent capacity (which ever is the lesser) will be permitted to attend sports matches in stadiums.

Schools to Enjoy a “New Normal” in Term 3

Inter-school sports are not the only part of school life to return under the “new normal” of COVIDSafe plans.

School camps, excursions, assemblies, parent-teacher interviews, the school formal and graduation ceremonies are all coming back, but with a COVIDSafe approach.

Each will be assessed and adapted to meet COVIDSafe guidelines. For instance, parent-teacher interviews will have to take place in a socially distanced way face-to-face, and some schools may even opt to hold them on-line.

COVIDSafe Conditions will Still Apply

Schools will still require parents not to gather around the school gates and parents will still have restricted access to school grounds. Starting, finishing and break times will continue to be staggered to help with social distancing.

We must hope all our boarders can also enjoy a new normal in Term 3. I will be watching the outcome closely.

Round Two Small Business Grants Now Open

Round Two of the Small Business COVID19 Adaptation Grants opened on July 1. You can find out more and apply here.

After the last debacle, $50 million of the grant monies have been kept for regional businesses and the website is saying about 60 per cent of that is still available.

The grants can be used by small business to pay for professional advice, marketing advice, to access digital technologies and upskill to use those technologies, diversify the business, create employment, prepare the business for COVIDSafe trading or to meet ongoing operating costs.

The minimum grant is $2,000 and the maximum is $10,000.

Land Tax Relief Extended for Four Months

In an effort to support landlords to assist tenants who have been impacted by COVID trading conditions, the Queensland Government has extended the deadline for applications for the land tax rebate to October 31.

This brings Queensland into alignment with NSW in this regard and recognises that businesspeople need to finalise their financial year reports first.

You are liable to pay land tax in Queensland if the total taxable value of your freehold land at June 30, 2020 is $600,000 or more.

You can find out more about land tax relief here.

Water License Relief for Drought Affected Farmers

With the drought continuing to roll on, about two-thirds of Queensland is still drought-declared. No-one knows this better than the people of Gregory.

So, I welcome last Saturday’s announcement that the waiver on annual water license fees will be extended for another two years, through to 2022, in drought-declared and disaster affected areas.

Extra land rent relief for drought-affected farmers is also available. You can find out more about this initiative here.

Keep Safe by Keeping up your Personal COVIDSafe Routines

I hope these new rules will soften the personal and financial impacts of the pandemic for everyone. The best way to ensure we keep them is by continuing our personal COVIDSafe routines. We have absolutely demonstrated to ourselves that these work.

Do the Gregory Waltz!

Remember We have no cure and no vaccine. The only prevention we have is hygiene: washing our hands and staying out of each other’s “splash zones”.

So, please follow the social distancing rules. Use the floor stickers that many businesses have in place to help you with this. When you go to talk to someone, first take one big step back and then a step to the side for good measure.

Help our local businesses to comply with their COVIDSafe checklists – and be kind to them. It is very stressful when the rules keep changing.

Thanks for Reading

Thank you for reading this and staying up to date. If sharing this information will help someone you know, please feel free to simply forward this email.

Alternatively, if you have received this letter from a friend and want to subscribe, email me at [email protected] or visit lachlanmillarmp.com.

If You Need Help

As always, if you have a comment or an issue to raise, you can simply contact me by return email.

If you need help or advice, please don’t hesitate to ring and we will do our best for you. (Emerald Office PH 07 4913 1000; Longreach office PH 07 4521 5700.)

Kindest Regards – and keep safe,

Lachlan Millar MP
Member for Gregory and
Shadow Minister for Fire, Emergency Services and Volunteers.