‘Groundhog Day': Anger as Premier keeps state guessing
Businesses are up in arms the State Government kept Queenslanders in the dark until today on whether Brisbane's lockdown would be extended, believing the Premier should have made an announcement last night.
Queensland's peak business group says it thought Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk would provide an update last night after she said on Monday "we'll also be reviewing it (the lockdown) on Wednesday night".
But as every hour counts to prepare for the Easter holidays onslaught, businesses were instead forced to wait until today in what is being described as "groundhog day" with business owners "living and dying by the 9am update".
Another two cases of community transmission were recorded yesterday with the cluster relating to the Princess Alexandra Hospital nurse growing to 11.
More than 1700 people have been forced to isolate at home after being identified as close contacts of the two clusters, while almost 40 new venues were added to Queensland Health's list of exposure sites late yesterday.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said authorities would make a decision about the lockdown this morning, telling travellers to hold off on changing their plans until the announcement.
But it's not known what restrictions would be eased - such as mask wearing - if the lockdown is lifted.
The Government has come under fire after the Premier on Monday said the lockdown would be reviewed on Wednesday evening.
"We'll also be reviewing it on Wednesday night as well," Ms Palaszczuk said on Monday.
"We'll know whether there's any further community transmission.
"Because the last thing we want to see is our roads clogged on Thursday night heading for Easter vacation."
The Premier yesterday said decisions would be made this morning when authorities received the most up to date information.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland Advocacy and Policy General Manager Amanda Rohan said following the government's Monday press conference, the body thought they would be provided an update last night.
"That is definitely how we viewed it when the announcement was made on Monday," she said.
"We thought that was fantastic because it was a bit more time."
Ms Rohan said businesses were making decisions via 24 hour cycles.
"Living and dying by the 9am update," she said.
Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce president Martin Hall said the local business community was on tenterhooks as it awaited news of whether the Coast would be plunged into lockdown.
"It's terrible - it's like Groundhog Day," he said.
"We're feeling slightly more positive after the Premier's press conference (yesterday) but you can't trust anything at the moment.
"Business confidence is shot because we still have no clarity on what the triggers are for a lockdown."
Mr Hall said hospitality businesses had stocked up for an anticipated 'bumper' Easter only to be hit by uncertainty about whether the Brisbane lockdown would be extended, and possibly spread to the Coast.
"Restaurants and cafes have got fridges full of food and may end up having to throw it out," he said.
"There are 66,000 businesses on the Coast that could shut up tomorrow and if that happens, this place will stop.
"That's how dire it is."
Mr Hall called on the State Government to give affected Coast businesses relief in the form of disaster recovery-style payments.
"There are emergency funds for flood and bushfire relief but we've got an unfolding disaster happening right here and now," he said.
Christian Harvey, owner of Gold Coast cafe Espresso Bonsai on Chevron Island, said local businesses were 'desperate' for the Brisbane lockdown to be lifted and not extended to the Coast.
Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce president Hilary Jacobs said while businesses were hurting, she would rather see the lockdown extended over Easter than have to suffer a protracted lockdown like Melbourne suffered.
"Of course we'd rather have no lockdowns whatsoever, but it's foolhardy to believe that we could just get a few cases out of this and it's all going to be over in a few days," she said.
A survey conducted by the CCIQ this week revealed nearly nine in 10 businesses were expecting a loss of revenue because of booking cancellations and ongoing implications on consumer confidence.
It also found 50 per cent of businesses who took part were calling for a nationally consistent framework for hotspot border closures.
More than 33,400 COVID-19 tests were conducted on Tuesday - a Queensland record.
Ms Palaszczuk said if there were good testing rates again on Wednesday and there wasn't any unlinked community transmission, the signs for Easter were looking positive.
"We'll be making those decisions tomorrow but if it's encouraging news tomorrow (Thursday), we will be lifting the hotspot for greater Brisbane," she said.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the ongoing uncertainty was 'the hardest bit'.
"Business is built by certainty which gives confidence, which allows you to plan and create jobs," the former hotelier said.
"In this COVID environment, it came out literally overnight that there was to be a lockdown in Greater Brisbane.
"That disrupts your business plan."
He said a Gold Coast lockdown would be 'a kick in the guts … do doubt about it', especially after last month's torrential rain.
Originally published as 'Groundhog Day': Anger as Premier keeps state guessing on lockdown