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3 July, 2020

Cooktown and cape restrictions lifted.

As of yesterday, (June 3) Queenslanders were allowed to travel to Cooktown and most parts of Cape York, with a further easing of restrictions on July 10.

By Phil Brandel

As of yesterday, (June 3) Queenslanders were allowed to travel to Cooktown and most parts of Cape York, with further restrictions easing on July 10.

Mayor Peter Scott has said that access into Cooktown was something that was long overdue.

“We have been lobbying very hard for this through our chamber of commerce and through various ministers.“Mayor Scott said

“We are glad that they are opening a week early so that we can get a bit of school holiday business up here for our tourism operators,

Queensland's Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Mr Craig Crawford said that there had been no cases of COVID-19 in any of the state's remote Indigenous communities which meant the roadblocks could be removed.

"Some of the communities are very concerned about getting COVID-19 into their area, and we accept that," he said.

"We'll working with them and do what we need to do to maintain safety but roadblocks at this stage would not be something that we would be looking at.

"Were we to get a second wave, it may lead to us having to invoke further restrictions further afield, but there is no indication of that.

While most communities on Cape York have decided to remove their lockdowns in line with the state's easing restrictions, several communities have delayed their re-opening until Friday, June 10.

Access to the tip of Cape York is still restricted, with the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council choosing to stay in lockdown.

Weipa, Mapoon, Lockhart River, Cape Tribulation and the Daintree are open.

Minister Crawford said anyone planning to visit Indigenous communities should contact councils first.

"You can't compare what we experienced to what people experienced in the remote communities where they were essentially confined to their houses — very stressful time," he said.

Wayne Butcher the Mayor from Lockhart River has said he was concerned about the openings being moved forward.

"I've got second thoughts about opening up the Cape now," Cr Butcher told the ABC.

"I would've preferred if Queensland would've delayed opening the border for another couple of weeks … I think the risk is just too high."

Restrictions remain in place until July 10 in the local government areas of Kowanyama, Northern Peninsula Area, Torres Shire Council, and Torres Strait Island Regional Council for the time being.

Restrictions were lifted on July 3 in Aurukun, Cook Shire, Hope Vale, Lockhart River, Mapoon, Napranum, Pormpuraaw, Weipa, Mornington Island, Burke, Doomadgee, Palm Island, Yarrabah, Cherbourg and Woorabinda.





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