BRISBANE CITY, Australia — Struggling tourism businesses in Queensland, the northeastern Australian state, have been hit with a “cruel blow” of virus restrictions days out from the Easter holidays.
Thousands of businesses have already been hit by the end of the federal government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy on March 28.
“Tourism businesses were hoping the Easter break would provide a much-needed boost after a year in the doldrums,” said officials.
However, Brisbane’s three-day coronavirus lockdown, new restrictions on regional venues, and potential quarantine requirements for people departing Queensland have left those hopes in tatters.
Daniel Gschwind, chief executive, Queensland Tourism Industry Council, says the lockdown could spell the end for some tourism operators.
“It’s a cruel blow. Easter, we were looking forward to it as the recovery started,” he said.
“It’s been a really, tough year for the industry across the state, across the nation, and we certainly were hoping and planning for an Easter that would rebuild confidence and give a bit of cheer to the tourism operators who desperately need additional revenue.”
He further claimed the lockdown would hit operators in the Brisbane region particularly hard.
All non-essential businesses have been ordered to close, including several tourist sites, and masks have been made mandatory.
Regional businesses are also dealing with new rules after known virus cases visited Gladstone and Gin Gin.
All patrons at venues outside Brisbane must be seated and wear masks under the new restrictions.
“Tourism operators expect the uncertainty of the new rules to deter interstate visitors over Easter. The impact on consumer confidence is devastating,” said Gschwind.
“And we expect significant cancellations, not just for Brisbane, but for other parts of Queensland as well, unfortunately.”
Restrictions on travel have also raised concerns for interstate holidaymakers, many of whom could face quarantine upon their return from Greater Brisbane or Queensland.
Western Australia has ordered all Queensland arrivals to self-isolate and gets tested, while Tasmania requires the same for all visitors from Greater Brisbane.
Anyone from the Brisbane or Moreton Bay council areas must isolate and get tested upon entering Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory.
New South Wales is asking only people who have been to known exposure sites to self-isolate and get tested.
Virgin Australia claims flights from Brisbane were operating as usual from March 29.
The airline warned customers to keep abreast of border restrictions because flight schedules may change in the coming days.
“Customers should ensure they check the latest information on the respective government websites before travel,” Virgin said in a statement.
“While services are currently operating as normal today, changes to customer demand and booking trends may require us to adjust our forward schedule.”
(Edited by Amrita Das and Pallavi Mehra)