Federal health Health Minister Greg Hunt has had a memo leaked approving the request to exempt Queensland from biosecurity laws that restrict travel to and from the cape and gulf country
The restrictions on remote and aboriginal communities were lifted at midnight last night but according to Cooktown Mayor Peter Scott, the rules don’t go far enough.
“The new restrictions say that people from the cape can go down to Douglas, Mareeba, The Tablelands, Cairns, and Carpenteria areas and stay as long as they like and then they can come back without restrictions as long as they are a resident of Cape York.”
“People can leave the Cape, but there are still very strict restrictions on people coming in”
“All requests for exemption will now have to go through the chief health officer and that’s via the health departments website”
Mayor Scott says it’s good for residents to be able to go to Cairns or Mareeba and then come home without restrictions, but what the community really wants is visitors to the Cape
“The most disappointing part is that for people wanting to come to the Cape or Cooktown it’s going to be very difficult and no tourism is allowed in.” he said
“Our pubs, clubs, hotels and caravan parks haven’t made any money in months.
Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Craig Crawford, said chief health officer directives were being finalised in consultation with each community.
“We want to make sure locals particularly have got fairly free movement — being able to go to town and to do leisure activities,” Mr Crawford said.
“And also about what restrictions there need to be allowing outsiders to come in.
“Some communities have a big tourist profile, others don’t.”
Under the new rules, people wishing to travel to biosecurity zones will be able to quarantine at home.
Mr Crawford said health resources were on standby to respond quickly if there was an outbreak in remote Queensland.
Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch has said it was “appalling” the way the Cape York lockout had been managed after the leaked memo from Health Minister Greg Hunt to Prime Minister Scott Morrison was published.
“The inconsistencies are just breathtaking,”
“Cynthia Lui has been missing in action on the whole thing, her performance has been nothing short of appalling,” Mr Entsch said.
For more information on the new lifted restrictions on the cape click here: