‘Knee-jerk’ border closure will cost millions, business says

 

Queensland's "over-reaction and knee-jerk response" to slam the borders shut to Adelaide has smashed confidence and could have cost the tourism and hospitality industries millions of dollars.

It was a "breach of the spirit" of the national road map and hotspot plan agreed to in principle by the states, according to one industry leader.

The official national definition is for 0.4 cases per 100,000 people - or 49 people for South Australia.

 

People are seen queuing at a COVID testing facility at Parafield Gardens in Adelaide. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Mariuz
People are seen queuing at a COVID testing facility at Parafield Gardens in Adelaide. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Mariuz

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the hotspot definition had not been reached and urged states to act proportionately.

The Chief Medical Officer has only recommended enhanced screening at borders, not border restrictions.

But Health Minister Yvette D'Ath backed the decision saying the total number of cases remained unknown and other states took the same action.

States remain free to make their own decisions on borders, having only signed on "in principle" to the national road map for reopening.

There were five new cases in Adelaide yesterday after 11,000 tests being under taken.

It brings the total number of cases in the cluster to 20, while 14 suspected cases are being retested and 4000 close contacts it in quarantine.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council boss Daniel Gschwind said slamming borders shut destroyed confidence, not just of SA travellers, but anyone thinking of making a booking to the state.

"This has created more uncertainty and will deter people from making bookings," he said.

"There's supposed to be a suppression strategy, what this is looking is an elimination strategy.

"We hope the measures for South Australia will be very temporary."

Restaurant and Catering Association boss Wes Lambert slammed it as a knee-jerk reaction, and over reaction, saying the SA authorities were acting quick to lock it down.

"It's disappointing and not in the spirit of the last National Cabinet. It can't be the way we react every time there's a cluster," he said.

Restaurant and Catering Australia boss Wes Lambert says states shutting their borders had overreacted. Picture: Supplied
Restaurant and Catering Australia boss Wes Lambert says states shutting their borders had overreacted. Picture: Supplied

"How many millions of dollars were lost just this weekend in tourism and accommodation dollars not being spent, before the true nature of the cluster was determined."

Business Council of Australia CEO Jenniefer Westacott said outbreaks in a pandemic weren't surprising and people had to learn to live alongside the virus.

"Careful local containment just as New South Wales has done is a far better way forward than state wide lockdowns and border closures," she said.

"Border closures were a blunt weapon we needed at the beginning of the pandemic to keep people safe but we can't keep closing them every time there is an outbreak, the virus doesn't recognise borders and neither does the national economy."

Mr Hunt said he wanted states to act in proportion to outbreaks, which are to be expected in a pandemic.

"There is a national hotspot definition. South Australia has not reached that," he said.

"In fact, today's news is good news. It means South Australia is less likely to face a wide spread community outbreak.

"We're not out of the woods yet, there's more work to be done. I have to say, South Australia's response is a model for early intervention."

Mr Hunt said there was no medical advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee to shut state borders.

"The medical advice that we had from the Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly, and that is consistent with the position of the AHPPC or the medical expert panel, is that it is appropriate to have enhanced screening (at airports)," he said.

"There has been no advice that any state or territory should be closed to any state or territory."

State Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said Queensland had not shut the borders too early.

"We have 18 cases in a matter of days in South Australia and importantly these are locally acquired cases in the community," she said.

"There is significant contact tracing going on."

She said Queensland wasn't alone in shutting its borders, saying the state had taken action very quickly.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath says Queensland was right to take quick action on the borders, as other states had. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Tertius Pickard
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath says Queensland was right to take quick action on the borders, as other states had. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Tertius Pickard

"We have taken action very quickly as we have done every time," Ms D'Ath said.

"We haven't done this alone - Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory as well as Queensland have put these restrictions in place."

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has said Adelaide will to record no unlinked community transmission for 28 days before the state will reopen its borders.

Queensland authorities have been reaching out to 7000 people who entered Queensland from Adelaide since last Monday, asking them to get tested and self-isolate.

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Massive cost of Qld's 'knee-jerk over-reaction' to slam border shut to Adelaide


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