Balonne Shire residents will be able to go fishing and take the boat out from midnight Friday (1 May, 2020) after the Queensland Premier announced an easing of COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday (26 April).
Balonne Local Disaster Management Group Chair and Balonne Shire Mayor Samantha O’Toole said SunWater had advised Council to reopen boat ramps in St George from midnight Friday.
“The Premier announced that as of midnight Friday people will be able to get out of their homes for recreation such as fishing, family picnics, boating and shop for non-essential items,” she said.
“However social distancing and hygiene must continue, you must stay within 50km of your home and outings are limited to members of the same household or an individual and one friend.
“All other restrictions including gathering and limits on visitors will remain in place.”
The LDMG is urging residents to ensure their families and visitors are abiding by COVID-19 restrictions by restricting unnecessary travel and staying within 50k of their home.
Cr O’Toole said police had been made aware of people travelling from outside the shire to visit relatives in Balonne.
“It is important that our community understands that we are currently COVID-19 free and to stay that way we and our families need to ensure we are doing the right thing,” she said.
“Our community has been questioning backpackers coming to town but welcoming out of region family members who have not been following quarantine rules. Police have been following up on backpackers to ensure they are abiding by the restrictions and staying in quarantine for 14 days as required before mingling with the community.”
The Mayor said testing would be easier with the announcement of the St George Medical Centre being granted approval to set up fever clinic in St George. “I congratulate Alex Benn and his team for taking the initiative to get this clinic approved for our region,” she said.
Cr O’Toole said police advised the LDMG that as at 22 April they had intercepted 2940 vehicles containing 3759 people who were exempt since the border closed at Mungindi and Hebel. Eight vehicles containing 13 people were turned around and sent back to New South Wales.
“Police have also placed concrete barricades on Collarenebri Road, Mungindi, to prevent people trying to avoid the two main access points into Queensland within our Shire. Those wishing to pass these barricades can call 0439 549 522 and doing all the necessary border checks,” she said.
“Travellers from New South Wales can check which border roads are open by going to livetraffic.com to plan their route. Signage is being erected in NSW towns closest to the border to better inform motorists of road closures. The Carnarvon and Castlereagh Highways are the only two border entry points into Queensland within Balonne Shire and these are being monitored by police 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The Mayor said people who had lost their jobs due to COVID-19 could now access a state government website to help find work.
“Jobsfinder.qld.gov.au helps those affected by linking jobseekers with a recruitment agency and finding positions that may be available,” she said. “There are a number of positions available that can be done remotely, so please check this out if you have lost employment due to COVID-19.”
The Balonne LDMG is currently at Stand-Up status and will continue to meet as needed.