The roadmap to easing Queensland’s coronavirus restrictions – here’s what they mean for you
On Friday May 8, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced Queensland’s roadmap to easing coronavirus restrictions. The changes will come in three stages, each four weeks apart, starting this Saturday May 16. The easing falls in line with the Federal Government’s three-step plan for reopening Australia, which was also announced last Friday. We understand there is a lot of information to process between the state and federal announcements, so we’ve broken down what applies to us here in Queensland in a nice digestible format, answering all of the important questions like “when can I switch from quarantinis to social martinis?”. For now, we’ll mainly focus on what applies to us for Stage One (Saturday May 16 to Friday June 12) – we will update you when the time comes for Stage Two to avoid confusion.
So, what exactly is a roadmap?
Basically, both the Federal and State governments have announced their roadmaps, or plans, to ease restrictions for a COVIDSafe Australia. The current plan is a three-stage process. The Federal Government has announced an overarching set of guidelines for the country, with each state in charge of their own plans based on local restrictions and conditions. With that in mind, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced Queensland’s three-stage plan on Friday May 8.
What are the Federal Government’s three steps?
The Federal Government’s plan is broken up to detail the guidelines for gatherings and work, education and childcare, retail and sales, cafes and restaurants, entertainment and amusement venues, sport and recreation, accommodation, weddings, funerals and religious services, hair and beauty services, and domestic travel. In a nutshell, the rules around social-distancing and personal hygiene (i.e. maintain 1.5 m distancing, wash your hands and communal areas, don’t touch your face, stay home if unwell) still apply throughout the entire plan, however the current two-person rules for non-work outdoor gatherings, auctions/open homes, cafe and restaurant seating, outdoor gyms and recreation, and weddings will be increased to:
- Step One: up to ten people
- Step Two: up to 20 people
- Step Three: up to 100 people
When are each of these stages/steps coming into effect?
For Queensland, Stage One commences Saturday May 16, Stage Two is due to start Saturday June 13 and Stage Three should start Saturday July 11. These are each four weeks apart, however the dates will continue to be assessed. At the end of each four weeks, there will be a ‘COVIDSafe check point’, which will assess impact, review our border and review biosecurity and designated areas. We will only move onto the next stage after a minimum of four weeks has passed, surveillance and epidemiological indicators suggest further easing would not present an undue risk, testing remains widespread and adequately identifies community transmission, and point-source outbreaks are effectively contained. The other states and territories are announcing their own dates and plans, which may differ from Queensland’s.
Does that mean I can have ten people over this weekend?
No, it does not. In your home, you can have a maximum of five visitors from up to five separate households, in addition to whoever lives in your home. For Stage One, the gatherings of up to ten people apply to:
- outdoor, non-contact activity
- personal training
- pools (indoor and outdoor)
- public spaces and lagoons (e.g. South Bank Parklands, Tallebudgera Creek)
- parks, playground equipment, skate parks and outdoor gyms
- funerals (these have an exception – maximum 20 people indoors and 30 people outdoors)
- hiking and other recreational activities in national and state parks
- places of worship and religious ceremonies
- recreational travel within 150 km of your region for day trips only
All of these will increase and be added to for stage two and three.
Can I have five friends over, plus their kids?
Nope. Children and infants are included in the total numbers.
Does that mean I can go to the beach/have a picnic/go for a hike/go shopping/play tennis with nine of my friends?
YES IT DOES! As long as you make sure your group does not exceed ten people, you still maintain social distancing and good hygiene, and stay within 150 km of your home.
What if everyone has the same idea as us and there are people all over the beach/park/shopping centre/tennis courts?
Use your common sense and adhere to social distancing. The maximum of ten people is for one group. Which means, in essence, there could be several groups of ten all on the same beach. If the space you’re entering looks overcrowded, try to find somewhere else. Just make sure there is plenty of distance between each group – ask yourself if you can sit comfortably whilst maintaining social distancing. If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution and find somewhere else.
The state border is within 150 km of my house – does that mean I can cross it?
Absolutely not. State borders are still strictly closed, unless for essential services. At this stage, your 150-km radius is from where you live, ensuring you don’t cross into an outback region, or cross the state border. If you live in an outback region, your must remain in the outback, but can travel up to 500 km.
Please tell me I can go to my favourite local cafe/restaurant and sit down to enjoy my coffee/meal.
YOU CAN! Kind of. There are quite a lot of restrictions still around dining out and it is up to the restaurant or cafe whether they choose to open for dine-in operations. For Stage One, only ten people (maximum) are permitted to dine in at any one time in cafes, restaurants, pubs, and registered and licensed clubs, RSL clubs and hotels. Hospitality venues will be allowed to open progressively as restrictions relax – they must allow four square metres per customer and all restaurants and cafes will need to demonstrate they are COVIDSafe by completing a checklist with Queensland Health. At this stage, bars, casinos/gaming and foodcourt seating remain closed. We suggest checking ahead with your local before you plan a dine-in visit – we will be rounding up what’s open as we have more details, so keep an eye out.
Are all retail shops open?
While all retail shops are currently allowed to open (with social-distancing measures in place), it is at the discretion of the store. We suggest checking ahead, however you are allowed to hit your local shopping precinct. After all, you’re going to need something more than lounge/activewear now that you can go out for dinner again (and you’ll be supporting the local economy in the process!).
Can I finally get my nails done? My eyebrows waxed?
Yes, my monobrowed friend, you can. Beauty therapies and nail salons can reopen for Stage One, alongside hairdressers and barbers. The four-square-metres-per-person rule still applies, with a maximum of ten people inside (plus complying with a COVIDSafe checklist). Day spas, tattoo parlours and non-therapeutic massage parlours remain closed until Stage Two.
Can I go to my local swimming pool?
In Stage One, yes you can go to your local swimming pool for recreation, training or rehabilitation purposes. There are restrictions, however, including only one person per lane, maximum ten swimmers per pool, and no spectators allowed (other than one parent/carer). Do note that you must shower with soap before and after swimming – at home, though, as communal shower and change rooms at public pools will remain closed.
Can I go to the gym/pilates/yoga?
Sorry, not yet. This will come in Stage Two. You can exercise outside and use outdoor gyms or personal trainers/boot camps, however, with no more than ten people and maintaining the four-square-metres-per-person rule.
Can I have myself a cheeky sleepover?
Terribly sorry, but sleepovers are still prohibited for the time being. All house outings should be for short-term visits and recreational day trips within 150 km only, that means temporary accommodation and overnight stays at friend’s (or lover’s) houses are not permitted.
Do I need to go back into the office?
Ideally not until Stage Three (July). If your employer supports you working from home, then it is recommended to do so. However, some workplaces may start to ask employees to come back to the workplace in staggered rostered shifts to maintain physical distancing and hygiene requirements.
Does this mean I can have a little holiday?
Not yet. Currently, in Stage One, only day trips are permitted. Camping sites (including those within open national parks) and tourism accommodation (including personal holiday homes) are still off limits for overnight or multiple nights until Stage Two. In Stage Two (from June 13 currently), which coincides with Queensland school holidays, tourism accommodation (as well as outdoor amusement parks, tourism experiences, etc.) will hopefully begin to open – more decisions on travel are to come.
Wait, you didn’t tell me when can I switch from quarantinis to social martinis?
Well, we kind of did. But to make it clearer – you can have social martinis if your restaurant/cafe/pub of choice serves them, however bars and nightclubs are to remain closed until Stage Three (July). Given that there can only be maximum ten people in those venues at this stage, at-home quarantinis with five visitors might be best for now – but you can still support your favourite hospo venues while doing so! Check out our round-up of the Gold Coast’s best take-home cocktails here.