OPEN THEM UP: Burnett businesses discuss their hardships during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: File
OPEN THEM UP: Burnett businesses discuss their hardships during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: File

Burnett businesses campaigning to ‘open up further’

THE Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) is campaigning for further considerations to be given to small businesses in regional and remote areas after the National Cabinet meeting announced the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

It was agreed at the meeting that regional parts of the state – many of which have been free of coronavirus – would have greater freedoms than elsewhere, with up to 20 patrons allowed inside restaurants and pubs and recreational travel restrictions widened to 500km.

Metro and other areas have been allowed 10-person limits.

The tourism and hospitality sectors in remote and regional areas have been hit heavily and CCIQ General Manager for Advocacy and Policy Amanda Rohan said she would like to see these parts of Queensland receive additional relaxing of restrictions to allow them to “open up” further, especially to people in their own communities.

Ms Rohan said it would be vital to assess the risk profile for each region and make individual decisions.

“The risk profile is a consideration the State Government needs to look at – we’re not a one-size-fits-all state. Then a decision could be made in consultation with local councils.

“If we could start with opening pubs and think, ‘Let’s get you guys moving again’ it would be good for the economy, good from a mental health perspective, and good for the town’s resilience.”

Gayndah Development Association Vice-President Joanne Dowling said businesses such as pubs, restaurants and nail salons had been “severely impacted”.

“And the ones that are still open have been supported by locals,” Mrs Dowling said.

“They have been there for people during the lockdown and providing their service all the time.”

She said cafes and eateries had adapted to the changes with takeaway options and chairs packed up so people couldn’t mistakenly sit down.

“It has shown their resilience, but they’re also seasoned – they’ve seen droughts and floods and they cop it on the chin,” she said.

The local butcher and grocery shop had immediately started home deliveries so people didn’t have to leave their homes.

“I love our community – we’re like a large family and everyone looks out for everyone.”

Biggenden Chamber of Commerce Secretary Stephanie Whittaker said many businesses had remained “fairly strong” however the hardest hit had been cafes and pubs.

She said people had missed the “connections” with others at local cafes, and were disappointed to miss the local show which was due to be held this month.

The cattle sales were also normally a place rural residents would come together.

“And now that’s non-existent – from a rural point of view a lot of people are really missing that,” Mrs Whittaker said.

“I think most people are okay and we’re very lucky that it rained before this hit.”

Mundubbera Enterprise Association President Bruce Serisier agreed that the region had been coping “fairly well”.

“It’s been a difficult time but we haven’t had any cases of the virus in this part of the world so that’s a big plus,” Mr Serisier said.

He said he worried about the impact that had been felt by food outlets and hotels.

“We hope they’ll all survive – it depends on how resilient their business are,” he said.

“We need people to support local business more than ever now.”

Looking ahead, Mr Serisier said any infrastructure projects handled by local council would have a positive impact on helping the region recover.

CCIQ CEO Stephen Tait said there were many ways to support small business.

“An ongoing focus for us is encouraging people to #Support Small,” Mr Tait said.

“For consumers, it’s about making a conscious effort to support their small local businesses, as it’s these local businesses who are always supporting their community at a range of events, through sponsorship and donation of prizes while also being a major source of local employment.”


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