Redland City Mayor Karen Williams would have liked more notice to be given to North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) businesses and residents to prepare for the reopening of the island from tomorrow (Saturday 16 May 2020).
The State Government announced today (Friday 15 May 2020) that the island would be open for business from midnight tonight after being locked down under a special restricted access directive since 26 March 2020.
Cr Williams, the Chair of the Redland Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG), said that a longer lead time to reopening the island to tourists would have been preferable to ensure business were ready for the expected increase of visitors.
“The LDMG requested a staged approach to reopening the island to tourists and for businesses to be given prior notice to prepare,” Cr Williams said.
“We asked for those with holiday homes allowed to access the island in the first stage, followed by tourists in the second stage, to help manage crowds and give businesses time to re-establish themselves.
“Ferry companies have reduced the number of vessels they are operating and their staff have taken leave – they need time to return their services to normal.
“Our other businesses also need to ensure they have enough staff – many of whom left the island when businesses closed.
“Businesses also need time to restock basic items – much of which comes from the mainland, and requires transporting to the island.”
Cr Williams said while the island needed an economic boost, she asked people to remain patient and use common sense.
“We want people to love visiting the island, but with less than 24 hours’ notice not all businesses will be open so people need to take that into account and call ahead before making the journey to the island,” she said.
“People also need to continue practicing social distancing and good hygiene because there are vulnerable residents on the island who need to be respected and protected.”
Redlands Coast islands have topped the list in Queensland for employment vulnerability resulting from COVID-19, according to research from the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE) at the University of Newcastle.
“This data reinforces the need for Redlands Coast islands to be recognised as regional communities in order to be able to access regional support funding from other levels of government and help with their recovery post COVID-19,” Cr Williams said.
“With sand mining ceasing on North Stradbroke Island last year it was always going to be difficult but now there will be an even greater need to rebuild the tourism economy the State Government predicted would fill the mining void.
“Some businesses that have closed on the island will really struggle to reopen soon, if at all.”
Redland City Councillor Peter Mitchell (Division 2, which includes North Stradbroke Island) said North Stradbroke Island businesses had said they needed assistance to market the island once reopened.
“Straddie needs to be ready to market itself competitively as a holiday destination domestically when it is up and running,” he said.
“COVID-19 and the cessation of mining last year through a State Government decision have been a double whammy – decimating jobs, businesses and livelihoods.”