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Community & Business

11 January, 2022

Covid mandate effects flow on

A POPULAR new café has closed its doors in Atherton as a protest against the State Government’s mandates which ban unvaccinated residents from entering facilities like hospitals and aged care homes and businesses such as eateries, clubs, restaurants and cinemas.

By Robyn Holmes

The sign on the shopfront of Village Kahawa in Atherton.

The Village Kahawa café on Main Street, which only opened its doors early September last year, closed on 17 December when the mandates became effective, posting a notice on its front door with a heading of “Forced to Close” to explain exactly why they had taken the action. 

“We believe that this mandate is unjust and will divide our community,” it reads. 

“We do not and will not support such a mandate and, as such, we are closing our doors to promote awareness within our local community that this morally bankrupt mandate is not about public health, it is about public control. 

“We have said we will open our doors if TRC (Mayor and Councillors) makes a public statement that they do not support the mandates. They have not done this and we have elected them to represent us. 

“We appreciate the position that council is in and that it is a hard step to take but we are all in a hard position here.” 

In December, Tablelands Regional Council resolved to support the community in its right to voice their concerns to the State Government about the mandate, and to forward to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk the hundreds of signed proforma letters by residents opposing the mandate but stopped short of making an official stance to not support the mandate.

Village Kahawa business owners are calling on residents to contact Tablelands councillors, State Member Shane Knuth and Federal Member Bob Katter and put to them whether they have “publicly condemned the segregation policies implemented by the State Government” and question what they are doing to oppose the mandates. 

“Tell them they have a responsibility to make the Tablelands a discrimination free zone,” the poster reads. 

“This was once a free society folks and soon we will need permission from the Government to buy food.” 

Some businesses have been struggling to keep staffing numbers up as employees are forced to isolate until test results have been received or if they have been close contacts with those infected by the virus. 

Glen Allyn local Matt Lachlan, who launched a petition against the mandate last year which attracted more than 85,000 in signatures, is now launching a business survey to ascertain just how much the mandate has affected local companies and staff . 

He said he would be walking the streets of Malanda, Ravenshoe, Millaa Millaa, and Yungaburra initially but is urging anyone with a business to fill out the survey which he intends to present to the State Government and local councils. 

Anyone wishing to fill out the survey should email Matt on tablelands_business_survey@hotmail. com or pick up a copy at The Express office in Byrnes Street. 

Local chambers of commerce are also being asked for feedback by the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training on how Covid 19 has affected businesses and staffing, with Atherton Chamber of Commerce launching a survey to get feedback for the department. 

In another blow for the community, the only free Australia Day family event in the region has been cancelled. 

Hosted by the Dimbulah Community Centre, the Australia Day community event will not go ahead after the committee decided that the risk was just too much given the uncertainty surrounding the spread of the virus and the potential of creating a “super spreader” event in the face of rapidly rising cases in the region. 

Both Mareeba Shire Council and Tablelands Regional Council host citizenship ceremonies and official award ceremonies to mark our national day, but do not stage any free community family events. 

Vaccination rates are also continuing to rise, with Mareeba now at 76.2 per cent double dosed and Tablelands at 84.7 per cent.

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