Cape Lockdown breeds frustration ahead of holidays
While Queenslanders are now allowed to roam anywhere across the state, there is growing frustration at the restrictive constraints still in place on Cooktown and Cape York.
Cape York, Cooktown and surrounding areas have been a Declared Biosecurity Area since early April, with some of the strictest lockdown restrictions in the state.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles last week announced the first stage of the easing of access restrictions for Queensland’s remote communities.
“People living in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities — plus the Burke and Cook shires — can now easily travel throughout ‘declared travel zones’ set by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer.”
This means that residents can now travel to ‘Declared Travel Zones’ and do not need to go into quarantine when they return home.
Under the latest stage of lifted restrictions people who have been living in Torres Strait Island, The Torres Shire, Northern Peninsula Area, Mapoon, Napranum, Aurukun, Pormpuraaw, Kowanyama, Lockhart River, Cook Shire, Hope Vale, Wujal Wujal, Burke, Mornington, Doomadgee and the Weipa town area can now visit Cairns, Carpentaria, Mareeba, Tablelands, Douglas, Mount Isa, Cloncurry and Carpentaria areas (includes Normanton).
Cooktown Mayor Peter Scott says there seems to be a double standard.
“People can come to the cape if they say they’re an essential worker or if they have relatives living on the cape, which they have been doing with their caravans and boats in tow, it’s wide open for abuse.” He said
“We have these quasi tourists coming to the Cape but it’s ridiculous that we are not letting proper tourists in from the ‘Declared Travel Zones’.
“Local residents can travel to Cairns or the Tablelands and can come back again, but tourists from those same areas can’t come up and visit us, someone has got in their mind that local tourists are a big risk.”
Mayor Scott says time is running out for some businesses as the much-needed school holiday period approaches.
“We get a lot of people from Cairns and the Tablelands visiting us during the school holidays,“ he said
“We have been lobbying hard to allow local tourism; people who already live with the ‘Declared Travel Zone’ let them come up, Police can check where they have come from.
“The roadhouses, accommodation providers and caravan parks are doing it very tough.
“If we leave it much longer, when the restrictions and borders do reopen, they may not have the capital to be able to hire staff and buy supplies, many of these businesses will just go under and then we won’t have anything to offer tourists when they do come up.”