‘More deaths from suicide than coronavirus’
A LONG-TIME Gold Coast restaurateur furious at ongoing crippling small business restrictions says operators are on the cusp of rebellion and ditching customer limits after thousands of protestors were allowed to march through the streets of Brisbane at the weekend.
Surfers Paradise's Costa D'Oro co-owner Nuccia Fusco said despite the protest cause being just she could not believe the scenes after months of business restrictions to halt coronavirus.
"It's very frustrating to see that people can go out and protest but small businesses have had to go three months without income," Ms Fusco said.
"My first reaction was 'you have to be kidding'.
"If this is allowed, we should be allowed the same thing and have as many people as we want in the restaurant.
"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?"
Ms Fusco said she had capacity for more than 150 but was allowed only a 52 maximum under new eased restrictions based on multiple areas. She said she was turning locals away to avoid breaching patron limits.
Ms Fusco said she was so annoyed at the double standard she had intended to ignore the patron limits at the weekend but her co-owner and husband Michael Fusco had to talk her out of it.
"I said to him 'Stuff it, I'm going to put in everyone who comes, where I want and if they fine me for it they can take me to court and I'll fight it'.
"He said 'No, we are not doing it'. The fine is massive. But on Saturday night we were turning people away who were wanting to come in and sit down. I was looking at all these people we had to turn away and thinking we could be recouping some of what we have lost the past three months."
She said locals were getting increasingly frustrated at not being able to get a seat at their favourite venues.
The Premier's office yesterday reiterated the decision to close the border was made on "health advice".
"Queensland's sensible health response has avoided the horrendous numbers of fatalities suffered in NSW nursing homes, for example," a spokesman said.
"Parents have also been spared schools reopening and closing again as they have in New South Wales.
"This is because New South Wales has many more cases of community transfer. In other words, they have people who have caught COVID and have no idea how.
"The chief health officer has explained her anguish at having to name a Gold Coast business where a positive case was found in order to track down people who might have been exposed.
"She is determined that is not repeated."
He said Premier Palaszczuk had been "one of the first" to urge people to avoid the weekend's protests.
"She said such a gathering would be wrong, especially since the rest of the community had been prevented from participating in Anzac Day," he said.
"Almost every day for the past five months the Premier has urged everyone to follow the health advice.
"Yesterday the Premier launched a $7 million ad campaign telling Queenslanders they are Good to Go to places like the Gold Coast and support businesses like (Costa D'Oro).
Another Glitter Strip restaurant owner told the Bulletin frustration was high among venue bosses at the inconsistency by State Government, given the protest scenes at the weekend.
The operator said despite agreeing the Black Lives Matter rallies were for a good cause, he said: "What about the lives of my staff who are out of work and struggling?"
Ms Fusco added: "The Premier keeps going on about wanting to protect Queenslanders but there are very few cases left in Queensland so Queenslanders are protected already.
"That is not protecting Queenslanders at all by keeping them out of work, on the streets and desperate for money. It's been too long. I completely get there was a lot of concern about the virus but it's gone, it's over - in Queensland.
"There are going to be more deaths from suicide and depression than coronavirus. She is definitely not protecting Queenslanders now - far from it."
Speaking generally about the increased patron limits, she said: "It's a lot better than what it was but it is still not great - and a lot of venues still aren't even opening yet.
"Premier, if you don't want to open the border, we should at least be allowed to have no restrictions within Queensland. There are what, only a handful of virus cases in Queensland.
"We should be able to fill the restaurant up."
Originally published as 'More deaths from suicide than coronavirus'