Businesses demand COVID action plan


GOLD Coast traders say closing the Queensland border for 18 months would ruin many businesses.

Instead, they say state and city leaders should look to ease social distancing restrictions at venues and provide a sustainable long-term recovery plan.

Business owners baulked at Chief Minister Michael Gunner's announcement yesterday that the Northern Territiory was planning to maintain border controls for at least 18 months.

Costa D'oro owner Nuccia Fusco said there would "be no way to sustain" trade if that was enforced by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

"Just open Queensland to Queenslanders without restrictions," she said.

Nuccia Fusco. Picture: Tertius Pickard.
Nuccia Fusco. Picture: Tertius Pickard.

"Keep them closed until at least Melbourne gets under control. But as soon as they have it under control obviously (the border) has to open.

"We still are unfortunately restricted which means we have to turn people away and bookings spread out through the day but (customers) have been incredibly understanding.

"I can't complain about business considering with what's happening everywhere else."

Nineteen at the Star and Cross Promotions co-owner Billy Cross says venue owners want to be rewarded and given a "road map" to recovery.

"I've always been a fan of the border closing. We should be protecting Queensland," Mr Cross said.

"If we can get through these next couple of weeks without any community transmission, we should definitely start lessening restrictions.

"We need to be rewarded for how good we are doing as a state.

Billy Cross. Photo: Jerad Williams
Billy Cross. Photo: Jerad Williams

"We need a road to recovery. Hospitality is the lifeline of the Gold Coast. For it to be restricted the way it is, I get it, but moving forward, what's the road to recovery?"

Mr Cross is hopeful Ms Palaszczuk will make a decision by the end of the month.

He labelled the Northern Territory decision "quite silly".

"What if we have a vaccine? They should be thinking on a positive level that the vaccine will come and have everything opened up sooner than later."

Scott Imlach, who owns restaurants and bars such as Bine Bar and Dining at Mermaid Beach and Nightcap at Nobby Beach, believed hard border closures was something businesses would have to get used to.

"I think it will probably happen (keeping the state closed) until a vaccine is sorted," Mr Imlach said.

"I guess we have to learn to live in bubbles. I'd rather be living in a bubble open for business than no bubble and closed."

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce President Martin Hall. Picture: Richard Gosling
Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce President Martin Hall. Picture: Richard Gosling

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce president Martin Hall said "there are a couple of issues" to be dealt with first, but there needs to be a solid plan for economic recovery.

"The Tweed's bubble still has massive confusion," he said.

"None of the chamber, including us, were contacted on how it would work.

"(The border bubble) needs to be nutted out first.

"Given the border is effectively shut, if we can work through this Tweed issue, we are speaking loudly and we need to be heard about how we can ease restrictions so businesses can start trading their way through to whatever stage four looks like.

"Easing restrictions to 2sq m instead of four. We're looking at starting up events again because this is what we want.

"We need to know what plan A and B is from the Government. No one knows what it is. It just seems to be keeping everything quiet until the state election and businesses don't operate like that."

Mr Hall said if there would be an announcement on the state's border being shut for a certain time it would need to be supported with an action plan to support the local economy.

"It's about knowing what the wider plan would be at the same time. The NT have been quite proactive. They've introduced tourism vouchers to support the local economy.

"We need that support to underline that action. We still haven't heard much coming out of council in regards to how the economy will be supported, other than the rebate."

Originally published as Businesses demand COVID action plan