COVID-19

Tourism chiefs on edge over lockdown threat

Fears have been raised that millions of dollars in tourism trade could be lost if any part of the state is plunged into a lockdown after a Victorian woman, staying on the Sunshine Coast, tested positive for coronavirus.The state’s schools break up on June 25 and any lockdown would be devastating for tourism and business operators, said Queensland Tourism chief Daniel Gschwind.“We have to move to a system where we can maintain normal social, economic functioning while maintaining strong health records, and we should achieve that with the vaccination rollout,” he said.“The virus is going to be around for a long time, so they need to start responding to it without stopping our lives.”A 44-year-old woman and her husband broke Victoria’s lockdown and headed north on June 1, travelling through NSW and into Queensland on June 5.They spent three days visiting retail and food outlets before she tested positive for Covid-19. Her partner has initially returned negative tests but remains in quarantine in Sunshine Coast University Hospital.Five close contacts of the couple have been tested and regardless if they return positive tests, there is no need for the Sunshine Coast to be locked down, says Australian Hotels Association Queensland boss Bernie Hogan.“Every school holidays has been disrupted since this started one way or another, so we are always concerned about a breakout,” Mr Hogan said.“But with a greater number of people being vaccinated, any sort of lockdown is not a policy response.“With vaccines being rolled out around the country, this is going to happen, and whether it is someone from interstate or someone from overseas, at some point Australia has to be ready to accept there are going to be localised breakouts.”Flight Centre chief executive Graham Turner said economic and mental health impact had to be taken into consideration following the fourth lockdown in Victoria where restrictions ease at midnight.He said a similar approach to NSW and closing down suburbs and not entire regions would be more effective and less detrimental to Queensland’s economy and residents’ mental health.“Widespread lockdowns and state hard border closures have never been shown to work any more effectively than targeted small regional or suburban lockdowns that NSW has been using for some time,” he said.

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