Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker expresses concern over the 150km travel limit. Photo: Daryl Wright
Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker expresses concern over the 150km travel limit. Photo: Daryl Wright

Mayor says outback allowances will kickstart business recovery

THE region’s mayor has welcomed further eased restrictions for Queensland’s ‘outback’, saying increased customer allowances would give businesses the kickstart they needed.

From 11.59pm on May 15 libraries, playgrounds, skateparks and outdoor gyms were among some of the facilities to reopen across the state to 10 people at a time.

Ten people were also permitted in cafes, restaurants, beauty therapies and nail salons.

Although outback Queensland, which includes Central Highlands and Barcaldine regions, has been given further allowances, with up to 20 people dining in at restaurants and cafes and a 500km travel limit including overnight accommodation, as long as it remains within the outback.

Barcaldine Regional Council Mayor Sean Dillon welcomed the decision to further ease restrictions in the outback.

“The benefit to our businesses while only slight initially, will potentially provide the revenue to hopefully commence a sustainable recovery from the past two months’ worth of closures and restrictions,” he said.

Mr Dillon said council would continue to follow Queensland Government health advice to recommence activities and facilities as it was recommended.

Barcaldine Regional Council Mayor Sean Dillon.
Barcaldine Regional Council Mayor Sean Dillon.

He said there was little concern of coronavirus cases spreading to the region with increased travel, although if it were to happen, the region’s doctors were prepared.

“Advice from various government departments is that planning for a case or outbreak in these outback regions has progressed to a point where the health system is better equipped to safely and efficiently deal with an occurrence,” Mr Dillon said.

Despite the extra allowances in Central Highlands and Barcaldine, the neighbouring Isaac region hasn’t been included as part of the ‘outback’ because of its vast land coverage.

The Isaac region extends from Clermont and Belyando, all the way to Clairview and Carmila on the eastern coastline.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said councillors met last week to discuss communities concerns with the travel limitations.

“It was noted during Council discussions that, while 150kms may be suitable for the South East corner, 150km does not allow for travel between most towns within our own region, a region similar in size to Tasmania,” she said.

“We do understand there are reasons we have been excluded from the outback zone but we strongly encourage State Government to acknowledge the obvious differences between south east Queensland and regional Queensland in their future decisions.

“One size does not fit all.”

Mrs Baker said it was important residents followed government requirements to assist in the eventual reopening of the region.

“It is critical our region remains united in our fight to keep us free of this virus, balanced with the critical need to reignite and stimulate our regional economy,” she said.

“As we see playgrounds and exercise equipment reopen to the public, it is so very important our community continue to adhere to the sound medical advice which has kept us safe with zero cases across the Isaac region, we must remain vigilant and not give back the hard earned gains.”

CQ News contacted Central Highlands Regional Council Mayor Kerry Hayes for comment but no response was received.