Premier, provide us with a plan

 

If the traffic home from work last week is anything to go by, Queenslanders are well and truly making the most of our rediscovered freedom.

More of us are travelling into work, meeting friends, eating out, and getting back to life, even if it is in a socially-distanced way.

But even as (some) business celebrate their return to profit, many are nervous about the future.

Businesses are reopening in Queensland but fear future lockdowns.
Businesses are reopening in Queensland but fear future lockdowns.

Looking south, Victorian businesses have been forced to close their doors yet again as the state deals with horrifying and escalating numbers of COVID patients.

And there are growing numbers of community-transmissions in NSW, with two areas of the state classified as COVID hot spots and people from there banned from crossing into Queensland

But as cases continue to spread across NSW, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been adamant she has no plan to lockdown suburbs again, even as she limited numbers at weddings, funerals, corporate events and restaurants on Friday.

She's flagged limiting numbers allowed in homes too and urged people to think deeply about who they're inviting over.

But she says her state needs to learn to live with the virus.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been less than clear when asked what Queensland might do in the case of outbreaks here and whether she agrees with Ms Berejiklian's goal of learning to live with the virus.

"Every state has the ability to take whatever actions they deem necessary," Ms Palaszczuk said last week.

"As I said, we are continually planning, as we do for natural disasters, for cyclones, for bushfires, we run scenario testing all the time and it would be a case-by-case basis so we are working through all of that at the moment.

"Thankfully we have not had to enact any of those plans."

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: Tara Croser
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: Tara Croser

But the business community wants to see those plans.

Like the Palaszczuk Government laid out its path to the relaxation of restrictions that allowed businesses to plan for their reopenings, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry say Queenslanders should be told the likely scenarios that could happen if there are outbreaks so they can be ready if it comes to that.

"Over the last few months, we've dealt with COVID's immediate impacts and worked our way to through a staged reopening. But where to from here?" asks CCIQ's Amanda Rohan

"Yes, there are procedures and processes in place for businesses to undergo if they become COVID affected, but what is the broader scope?

"Throughout this entire crisis, we have asked for transparency from the government, and we are asking that again.

Melbourne in lockdown. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)
Melbourne in lockdown. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

"The last thing businesses can handle is shocks and surprises and immediate shutdowns taking place.

"Having some insight about at what 'could' happen, at least allows for contingency plans to be put into place."

Queensland saw a sliver of good news with June's unemployment rate, which bucked the national trend to see a marginal improvement as 53,000 people moved into jobs.

But underemployment is huge and we still have the third highest unemployment rate.

Officially it's 7.7 per cent. Unofficially, it's far higher when people who've given up looking, or who are collecting JobKeeper but aren't working are factored in.

That'll take another hit under any future lockdowns.

A resident of a North Melbourne public housing complex celebrates the easing of tower lockdown restrictions earlier this month. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
A resident of a North Melbourne public housing complex celebrates the easing of tower lockdown restrictions earlier this month. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Months ago, before the true scale of the world pandemic was even apparent, Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young suggested local lockdowns could happen, saying there would be no point closing down north Queensland in response to a cluster in the southeast.

It's not clear whether that's still a live option, although it's likely.

Queensland has done an amazing job containing the virus, but clearly its shadow will be cast across the community for months. Maybe years.

It's not an unreasonable request to have some certainty around what our contingency plans are.

Originally published as Premier, provide us with a plan


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