QUEENSLANDERS will taste freedom from Friday as COVID-19 restrictions tumble across the state, allowing for a business revival worth billions.
People will be allowed to throw house parties, drink a beer at the bar, get married in front of their loved ones, go to concerts, cheer on the kids at weekend sport and get back to the office after the government brought forward the final relaxation of restrictions by a week.
It is understood relaxing the latest round of restrictions from Friday will pump $520 million a month into the economy and support an additional 50,000 jobs – and that’s without adding in the economic boon coming from the reopening of borders to interstate tourists from July 10.
The news of the social and border relaxations was celebrated across the board, with businesses who have been struggling to hold on saying they could finally operate viably again.
From Friday, businesses such as restaurants and cafes will have no caps on numbers of patrons, as long as they are abiding by the 4sq m rule.
Smaller venues will be able to have as many as 50 patrons, as long as they can follow a 2sq m rule.
People can welcome up to 100 people into their homes in what will finally allow friends and family to celebrate milestones together again, and weddings and funerals can go ahead with 100 attendees.
Big events of more than 10,000 people will be allowed, but they must follow strict rules including approval from the Chief Health Officer.
In a boost for the arts, concert venues, theatres and auditoriums will reopen to reduced crowd numbers that will be capped at 50 per cent capacity, or one person per four square metres.
Casinos will be allowed to reopen their doors and punters will be allowed to play the pokies as cleaning is ramped up.
More spectators will pack into stadiums, with the capacity lifted to a maximum of 25,000 people or 50 per cent capacity.
And nightclubs will reopen with COVID-Safe plans, with the Premier encouraging patrons to “listen to the music” while exercising social distancing.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk thanked Queenslanders for their hard work, which had allowed authorities to gift back these freedoms.
Health Minister Steven Miles said the announcement meant a greater return to normality.
“For small businesses like restaurants and cafes, for couples getting married, for young people wanting to celebrate their 21st at home, for community sporting teams and their spectators, for sports fans, museum goers and event managers, life has gotten easier,” he said.
But the new-found freedoms came with a warning from Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young, who said Queensland was not out of danger yet.
Dr Young urged people to continue social distancing and for sick people to stay at home and get tested so authorities could stop outbreaks.
“This is a virus,” she said.
“We’re not going to be able to keep it out.
“We just have to recognise it as quickly as possible when it happens here in Queensland.
“That is critical.”
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland general manager of advocacy and policy Amanda Rohan said lifting restrictions for pubs, clubs and stadiums would breathe some life into businesses and communities.
“Businesses have been treading water to keep themselves afloat and can now begin moving forward – something they have been desperately wanting to do,” she said.
“Today is good news, and we hope it will be followed by more to come, so we can really get Queensland moving again.”
But she said the reopened borders would not magically undo the damage inflicted upon businesses in recent months, and warned there was still a long road to get back on track.
Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive Wes Lambert said the injection of interstate tourists would be great for cafes and restaurants but it wasn’t a return to business as usual.
“It will certainly improve the hospitality industry but the industry remains down as the international borders remain closed as international tourists spent 30c of every dollar on accommodation and food services,” Mr Lambert said.
Clubs Queensland acting chief executive Dan Nipperess said COVID-Safe plans were already in place as clubs looked forward to welcoming patrons in greater numbers.
Originally published as $500m, 50k jobs before border even opens