Tourism boss plea to PM: ‘Shut this place down’

 

A Gold Coast tourism boss has blasted Prime Minister Scott Morrison's latest unprecedented restrictions, saying they do not go far enough and it's time to "shut the place down".

Mr Morrison last night unveiled a raft of new draconian steps kicking in at midnight tonight, aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

The new suite of restrictions spell the end of trading for the foreseeable for a raft of new sectors after he earlier shut down non-essential businesses including pubs, gyms, casinos and churches.

Now galleries, museums, libraries, swimming pools, children's play centres and community facilities will also have to close.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison during the press conference. (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison during the press conference. (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

Cafes can continue to provide takeaway only. Food courts will be shut down except for takeaway. Shopping centres were ok if for certain activities.

Boot camps and personal training sessions are limited to a maximum of 10 people with strict social distancing rules observed. Weddings may still continue, but only with a couple, a celebrant and their witnesses, as large gatherings are no longer allowed.

 

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Funerals can proceed with a maximum of 10 people observing social distancing rules.

Tattoo parlours must shut. Hairdressers and barber shops can open but will operate with tighter rules including 30-minute time limits for haircuts.

Schools will also stay open.

Destination Gold Coast CEO Annaliese Battista, in charge of the body which markets the city to the world, said the tourism sector was sick of suffering the "death by a thousand cuts" approach.

Annaliese Battista. Photo: Mike Batterham
Annaliese Battista. Photo: Mike Batterham

"The tourism sector is advocating to shut the place down, provide the short-term cash initiatives for businesses to stop going broke and provide certainty for businesses which have closed," she said.

"This is not a time to have people screening websites for the fine print.

"This is time for leadership and there is a complete leadership vacuum at the moment. We have seen the states come out and try to keep their states safe but there is a lack of a firm central voice saying this is what to do.

"Parents are scared because they don't know what do to. I've seen 74 per cent absentee rates in school - that's no longer a decision for Government. People have spoken there.

"We have been privately hoping for a lockdown for a while but publicly advocating for one since Sunday.

"It's been eight weeks since the tourism sector was first impacted by China's travel ban. Since then it's been death by a 1000 cuts," she said, adding lockdown - meaning outings only for essential services and shopping plus solo exercise - would give "not just financial and economic certainty but psychological certainty".

Her blast comes as the Gold Coast recorded its biggest jump in cases to date, with 15 more confirmed in the city.

 

Empty Surfers Paradise. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Empty Surfers Paradise. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The total number of individuals infected on the Coast now sits at 79. The state total number of cases sits at 397 after it recorded a jump of 78.

The first case in the state was diagnosed on the Gold Coast on January 29. Since then local cases have risen exponentially, despite the warnings of health authorities.

Mr Morrison said Australians should not go out unless it is "absolutely necessary".

He said people should only be go outside for exercise, food and supplies, medical care, going to work if they cannot work from home, and fulfilling caring responsibilities

Mr Morrison said the medical advice was for parents to send kids to school.

"We need to ensure kids get taught. It's going to be a tough year in 2020 and one of the things I don't want to have yielded up is a year of a child's education, which is so important. We need to work so hard together to ensure that those kids get that education and that is not lost to this virus."

Britain is under stricter restrictions than during the blitz in the Second World War.

Originally published as Tourism boss plea to PM: 'Shut this place down'


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