June 1, 2020
COVID-19 travel restrictions in Queensland are easing from midday on Monday (June 1) but Indigenous communities are still being kept locked down … for the moment.
When Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Sunday that travel restrictions would be easing “for Queenslanders”, Cherbourg councillor Fred Cobbo queried on social media if this also applied to Cherbourg residents.
It quickly became apparent it did not.
A statement from Queensland Health said: “Restrictions will further ease from midday tomorrow and Queenslanders will be able to undertake unlimited travel throughout the State, including overnight stays. This easing of restrictions does not apply to biosecurity or restricted zones for Indigenous communities.”
The Biosecurity regulations that are regulating Cherbourg and other discrete Indigenous communities are a Federal restriction which is in place until September 17.
However, the State Government also launched a “three-stage Roadmap” on Sunday which aims to ease these access restrictions earlier, in consultation with the Indigenous communities involved.
This new roadmap will enable Indigenous communities to “transition from the current Federal emergency biosecurity restrictions to State-based arrangements under Chief Health Officer public health directions”.
If approved by the Federal Government, this transition to State control is expected to take effect from June 12, although Stage 1 of the Roadmap (see below) is in effect immediately.
Under the Roadmap, the decision-making process on when restrictions will be lifted in Cherbourg and other Indigenous communities will be worked through between the State Government, Councils and Local Disaster Management Groups.
Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles said the lifting of restrictions would vary.
“Some areas could move through the stages at different times, depending on the advice of the Local Disaster Management Group, assessment of the public health risk, appropriate enforceability and community consultation,” the Deputy Premier said.
“We are working with mayors through the Local Disaster Management Groups on local priorities and requirements.”
The current national Commonwealth Biosecurity Act gives police powers to enforce movement restrictions and issue penalties to anyone deliberately breaching these laws.
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Download the three-stage Roadmap To Easing Access Restrictions For Queensland’s Remote Communities (220kb PDF)
- Stage 1 – This enables people entering or re-entering a designated community to self-quarantine within that community, where safe to do so. Under Stage 1, quarantine exemptions will remain in place for essential workers, those travelling through communities without stopping. and those granted an exemption by the Chair of the Local Disaster Management Group in the designated area.
- Stage 2 – The Chief Health Officer will publish a direction that enables communities to become part of “safe travel zones” residents can easily travel within based on public health advice. A Safe Travel Zone can be made up of a single community, or several local government areas, depending on the risk profile of the area. Stage 2 can commence following the Commonwealth removal of communities from the Biosecurity Determination.
- Stage 3 – Removes entry and quarantine restrictions. This means remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities — plus the Burke and Cook shires — would subject to the same provisions as other areas of Queensland under the Roadmap to Easing Restrictions