Freedom: How first day of eased restrictions will look
AN unprecedented police presence in national parks, picnic spots and beaches will greet Queenslanders enjoying their first taste of freedom this weekend amid promises other restrictions will be lifted earlier than expected.
It is understood police will patrol on horseback, in boats, in cars and on foot - and even the police helicopter will be deployed - as people are urged not to squander the state's progress against COVID-19 after some restrictions are eased at midnight tonight.
It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday Australians would get an "early mark" from other coronavirus restrictions, with federal and state leaders bringing forward a decision to ease rules.
National cabinet will decide on relaxing some social and economic clamps next Friday, a week earlier than expected.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison would not be drawn into what restrictions could be lifted, but said restarting the economy was as important as stopping the spread of the virus.
"Australians have earned an early mark through the work that they have done," he
"We need to restart our economy, we need to restart our society. We can't keep Australia under the doona, we need to move ahead."
But he insisted the path to reopening pubs relied on people signing up for the government's COVIDsafe tracing app, which about 3.5 million Australians already have.
"Now if that isn't an incentive for Australians to download COVIDSafe on a Friday, I don't know what is," he said.
He said the resumption of community sport and recreation activity will be staged with an
initial phase of non-contact with 10 people or fewer, with the next phase allowing groups bigger than that to engage in full contact training and competition.
Mr Morrison also announced aged care providers will get $205 million to help keep homes open to visitors through extra screening staff and protective equipment,
His announcement was another light at the end of the tunnel for Queenslanders, who will be allowed to picnic, travel for recreation and shop for non-essential items for the first time in more than a month from today.
Hiking trails, beaches and trendy picnic spots are expected to be packed and it is understood every available officer will be out to make the police presence as visible as possible.
However, Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll has repeatedly said police will be aiming to educate and will enforce only if the offending is blatant or reckless.
Extra police patrols have been stepped up in anticipation of bumper traffic, with authorities warning people straying more than 50km from their homes will be fined.
People who visit popular weekend hot spots such as New Farm Park, South Bank or Burleigh Hill can expect to be questioned by police if they are gathering with more than their household plus one, or social distancing is not abided by.
Police will also be monitoring popular places like national parks and if car parks are full, extra measures will then be taken, and fines of $1334 will still be issued if police see fit.
The Department of Environment and Science also confirmed that rangers will be patrolling popular trails in national parks and would "take enforcement action where necessary."
Dams operated by Sunwater are also open to the public today for fishing, boating, picnics and other facilities - but only to residents who live within a 50km radius, and the barbecue facilities will remain closed.
South Bank's idyllic parklands will be open for picnics, however extra security and police will enforce social distancing.
"This weekend, due to the easing of restrictions, we welcome people to enjoy the parklands to take advantage of the takeaway food options and to enjoy a picnic throughout the precinct," South Bank Corporation chief executive Professor Bill Delves said.
The easing of restrictions has given struggling mum-and-dad restaurants and cafes along popular outdoor spots a "glimmer of hope," with predictions some will see their best trade in months.
Along the Shorncliffe waterfront fish and chip restaurant Shelly Inn has hired two new staff to cope with expected crowds after enduring a 20 per cent dip in sales since the lockdowns were enforced.
"We've had to reduce our business, reduce our staff hours. It's been tough, it hasn't been easy," Owner Steven Dooley said.
Lucinda Seafoods co-owner Gemma Noonan, also based in Shorncliffe, said their business had also been "inundated" with orders for the weekend.
"Everyone is definitely gearing up for a big weekend," she said.
Sandgate and Districts Chamber of Commerce president Bill Gollan said this weekend offered a "glimmer of hope."
"I know that the local businesses are planning that things will shift this weekend," Mr Gollan said.
The easing restrictions were a cause for celebrations for Gold Coast resident Nadia Lloyd and her family.
"We're excited to just get outside … to picnic again and be in nature and feel that sense of community, even if you can't be too close to people, we're excited to just see other people enjoy themselves," she said.
Originally published as Freedom: How first day of eased restrictions will look