Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says her state’s border closures have not caused hardship for businesses and is determined to keep them shut – despite the entire nation recording no new COVID-19 community cases overnight.
A handful of business owners and individuals are challenging the state’s hard border closure in the High Court, arguing the measure is ‘irrational’ and causing them ‘financial harm’.
But the state government on Tuesday refuted the claims in documents filed to the court, saying it ‘does not admit’ financial hardships are directly related to border closures.
Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce president Martin Hall said he was astonished by the state government’s defence.
‘That is possibly the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard,’ he told The Gold Coast Bulletin.
The Queensland government has refused to admit the border closures have contributed to financial hardship for businesses. The response comes after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk appeared to acknowledge the impact her decision could have on the industry
Waiters at Costa D’Oro in Surfers Paradise are simply happy to be back at work – even though they can’t work at full capacity yet
The stunning development comes after Premier Palaszczuk on May 19 publicly acknowledged the impact border closures would have on the state’s $12billion tourism industry.
‘It has been heartbreaking to make tough but unavoidable decisions; for example, the decision to close our borders and place hard restrictions on the industry knowing they would hurt, while at the same time understanding they were absolutely critical to save lives,’ she said when announcing the policy.
Ms Palaszczuk’s refusal to open the border, against the advice of federal health experts and despite the pleas of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, has earned her comparisons to fellow Labor Premier Daniel Andrews, who is accused of holding back the economy by relaxing rules too slowly in Victoria.
While Victoria’s Liberal Opposition has dubbed him ‘Chairman Dan’ – after former Chinese Communist Party leader Chairman Mao – while Ms Palaszczuk has been mocked as ‘comrade Anna’ by some of her critics frustrated by her uncompromising stand on border closure.
Ms Fusco (pictured with two men wearing shirts which encourage people to sanitise their hands) said the industry is doing whatever it can to stay afloat
Pictured: Demonstrators at the Sydney Black Lives Matter protest on June 6. While many of those who attended the protest wore face masks and used hand sanitiser, medical experts fear there is still a risk of the highly infectious virus passing among them
Australia recorded zero new locally acquired cases of coronavirus on Tuesday for the first time since the peak of the pandemic, with two new cases in New South Wales identified as returned travellers who remain holed up in quarantine hotels.
While the milestone is great news for the nation, it is little comfort for businesses if it doesn’t result in restrictions being eased.
Nuccia Fusco, co-owner of Italian restaurant Costa D’Oro in Surfers Paradise, told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday night the lack of interstate traffic and gathering restrictions had crippled her business since they closed their doors on March 23.
‘Restaurants should be working together and demanding change… I think that will happen very soon,’ Ms Fusco said.
Ms Fusco hopes strength in numbers will encourage state governments to reassess current measures.
‘I’m meeting with a group of restaurateurs and bar owners tomorrow to start a Facebook group to give us a voice,’ she said.
Nuccia Fusco (pictured left and right), co-owner of Italian restaurant Costa D’Oro in Surfers Paradise, told Daily Mail Australia she believes her business should be able to operate at full capacity
Ms Palaszczuk has faced increased calls to completely reopen her state by the July school holidays to inject much needed funds into the economy.
‘It’s not good for the economy, particularly as we go into this next school holiday season. Those tourism businesses need that support,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously said.
‘So those individual states, they’ll have to justify those decisions themselves because it wasn’t something that came out of national cabinet.’
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham also previously said the state was more reliant on tourism than most others in Australia, and would haemorrhage money.
In Surfers Paradise, the co-owner of Italian restaurant Costa D’Oro, Nuccia Fusco (pictured) admitted seeing the protests made her want to break the rules
Pictured: The restaurant operating at full capacity prior to coronavirus lockdowns. They are turning away upwards of 100 customers in a night due to restrictions
‘Tourism businesses currently have no choice and no access to international visitors, and if we also leave them with no access to interstate visitors, then they’re going to be bleeding in terms of viability and job losses for a long time,’ he said.
Even though Queensland’s borders remain shut, the premier has encouraged intrastate travel and on Saturday did not ban Black Lives Matter rallies.
Restaurant owner Ms Fusco explained that watching 60,000 people gather to attend Black Lives Matter protests throughout the nation – blatantly disregarding social distancing measures – was ‘horrifying’.
‘I was horrified. Three months of our hard work was just taken for granted,’ she said. ‘If this is allowed, we should be allowed the same thing and have as many people as we want in the restaurant.’
Instead, her restaurant turns away upwards of 100 loyal customers in a night because of restrictions allowing only 50 patrons at a time.
The New South Wales government released these statistics about the current coronavirus figures in the state
New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro on Tuesday said thousands of fans should be welcomed back at NRL games from this week onwards in response to the demonstrations
Ms Fusco said maybe they would receive more leniency from the government if they staged a protest.
‘I’ve been thinking well maybe the restaurant and all the other operators should do something, put up signs and have a protest day so we can have as many people as we want too. This does make you want to rebel when you see all these other people getting away with it… Why can’t we do the same thing?’ she asked.
Ms Fusco said she was set to defy the restrictions and allow more than 50 people in her restaurant this weekend, but her husband talked her out of breaking the rules, for now.
While she considered breaking the rules, Ms Fusco said in all honestly, she couldn’t afford to pay the fine if she were caught.
In fact, he thinks it is only fair that the bigger stadiums be allowed to open up to 40,000 fans within the next two weeks. Fans can currently pay to have cardboard cutout of themselves in the stands
‘As much as I’d love to ignore the government restrictions and open for more customers, we can’t afford the fine. I’m not even sure how much it would be but after three months of no money we can’t afford to pay,’ she said.
Instead, she said her family is praying the government will reconsider restrictions and allow them to reopen at full capacity soon.
‘We’re being far more careful [than the protesters]. We’re sanitising and distancing… they should lift restrictions and we should get much more freedom,’ she said.
Weddings have been restricted to just 20 people in New South Wales and Victoria. Above, a wedding of just five on Sydney Harbour, at the height of the pandemic. This couple married at the height of the pandemic, meaning they could only have three guests
The protest in Sydney was allowed, then banned, then allowed once again – and tens of thousands eventually showed
Ms Fusco isn’t alone in demanding change following nationwide protests last week.
New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro on Tuesday said thousands of fans should be welcomed back at NRL games from this week onwards in response to the demonstrations.
In fact, he thinks it is only fair that the bigger stadiums be allowed to open up to 40,000 fans within the next two weeks.
‘In my mind, it’s now clear we need some consistency with what is being approved,’ he said in light of the protests.
‘Hypocrisy at its best… the NRL have already proved they have the right plans in place. So as far as I’m concerned the evidence is clear that we can open up these restrictions.’
Mr Barilaro said venues like ANZ Stadium could safely seat 40,000 guests, with a single seat in between to enforce social distancing measures.
‘I want to see stadiums opened to the fans this weekend. There is no longer any need to keep these lockdowns in place. We can have crowds back and still be abiding by some social-distancing rules. The evidence is there to support that.’
Mr Barilaro is part of a taskforce overseeing the return of sport in a covid-safe manner, and has also called for grassroots sports to recommence.
Curzon Hall is one of five venues owned by Navarra Venues and will be open for unlimited guests by July
On Monday night, Sal Navarra, the CEO of five prime wedding venues in Sydney under the Navarra Venues umbrella, including Le Montage and Curzon Hall, said he would ignore government advice following Saturday’s Black Lives Matter protests.
Photos taken at the rallies appear to show people ignoring social distancing policies as they crammed into tight spaces and marched through the cities.
Mr Navarra said it was untenable to continue to disappoint his brides – some of whom book their dream dates years in advance – while the government was allowing so many people to attend demonstrations without punishment.
He said his business would reopen as normal in as little as three weeks.
‘From July, we are reopening,’ he said. ‘Reopening to any numbers. Yes we will implement social distancing, but we don’t want to deal with upset clients anymore.
‘It is not fair on them… The government allowed 15,000 or 20,000 people to gather.’
People walk along Surfers Paradise beach on April 7th after residents were warned they could not sunbake or loiter on the sand to avoid spreading coronavirus
The sunshine state was quick to lock down the border to stem the spread of the deadly respiratory virus, and has indicated it may not reopen for tourists until September
Border closure HASN’T impacted businesses, Queensland government argue
Lawyers representing the Queensland government do not believe the state’s strict border policy has been harmful to local business.
Six plaintiffs have accused the government of implementing unnecessary and harmful policies to limit the spread of coronavirus.
In particular, they have argued in the High Court that the Queensland government has gone beyond federal recommendations to stem the spread of the deadly respiratory infection.
They claim to have experienced financial hardship at the hands of the government.
Sydney barrister Guy Reynolds SC is representing the group, and told the High Court on Tuesday the decision was ‘irrational’.
But the Queensland government is defending the decision to close borders for the safety of locals.
‘The purpose of the border restriction direction is to protect persons within Queensland from the health risks associated with COVID-19,’ the defence argued.
Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce president Martin Hall described the defence as ‘ludicrous’.
The rules currently state just 20 people can attend a wedding in New South Wales – an increase from just five (including the bride and groom) at the height of the pandemic.
Mr Navarra said he predicts there will not be a spike in coronavirus cases despite the close proximity of demonstrators this weekend.
‘If my predictions are correct, then we will reopen as usual on the 1st, 7th or 15th of July,’ he said.
Though a spokesman for the business on Tuesday said any brides and grooms choosing to go ahead during the pandemic would be doing so at their own risk.
Police would have the power to break up the event and distribute fines of up to $5,000 if they believed guests were flouting restrictions.
Curzon Hall is one of five venues owned by Navarra Venues and will be open for unlimited guests by July
For bride-to-be Casey Girdham, 26, and her 24-year-old fiance Mitchell Coleman, the fine would be worth the risk.
‘I’m over the moon someone has finally stood up to the government for us brides,’ Ms Girdham told The Australian.
‘The government has no right to keep telling us what to do. Our guests should be allowed to attend our wedding if they understand the risk. Even my sick grandparents would go, they wouldn’t miss it for the world.’
Mr Navarra joked he would consider ‘holding a rally with all the brides’ to convince the government to ease restrictions.
There are currently just 445 active cases of COVID-19 in Australia, including just two people in intensive care.
So far, 6,720 people have recovered in Australia, while 102 people have died from the virus.
This week, just seven cases of COVID-19 were acquired locally – six in Victoria and one in Queensland, but health authorities nationwide are on high alert to see if cases spike following the Black Lives Matter protests.
‘We don’t know if anyone in those mass gatherings were infected or infectious, and so it is a wait-and-see approach,’ Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said on Sunday.
Restaurant warns influencers ‘smashing us with horrible reviews’ they will cost people their JOBS – as it finally reopens after crippling COVID-19 shutdown
The owner of one of Australia’s most-Instagrammable restaurants has issued a stern warning to influencers as the industry crawls out of lockdown: ‘Don’t leave a horrible review’.
Milky Lane’s outlandish burgers, milkshakes and cocktails have become a hit among the foodie social media set across New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT.
But just like any restaurant business, they have been hit hard by the COVID-19 lockdown that saw doors shut at midday on March 23 – more than two months ago.
The managers of Milky Lane, one of Australia’s most-Instagrammable restaurants, has issued a stern warning to influencers: ‘Don’t leave a horrible review’
With the lifting of restrictions across much of Australia – including NSW allowing 50 people to dine-in from June 1 – it is an exciting, but anxious time, for the struggling hospitality industry.
Many restaurants, cafes and bars are operating with less staff while modifying their businesses to comply with strict social distancing and dining limits.
Which is why Milky Lane’s managers have pleaded with customers to raise issues in the store instead of on TripAdvisor or social media platforms to protect their brand and save jobs after the severe impact of COVID-19.
Milky Lane asked customers to be kind upon their return post-COVID-19, urging them to raise any issues in the store instead of on social media in a bid to protect their brand after the severe impact of the pandemic
The blunt message – aimed mainly at pompous influencers – is the latest in a running battle with restaurants also slamming diners for making bookings and failing to show up, or owners mocking D-Listers for demanding free food in return for positive social media posts.
‘If you walk into OUR restaurant, someone else’s or any commercial premise and you see some mistakes, DON’T reach for your phone to record it all or take some pics to upload to social media,’ the post on Milky Lane’s Facebook page read.
‘Ask for the owner. Get ‘Karen’ to speak to the manager.
‘Let a supervisor or your wait staff member know that something is wrong.
‘Don’t leave a horrible review, reach out so we can fix it.
‘We’ve gone above and beyond to stay afloat during COVID-19 and are so excited to see you all again, reemploy our staff and create experiences together.’