North Stradbroke Island sets sights on re-opening
FAMOUS Queensland hideaway Stradbroke Island could be re-opened in weeks.
It comes as Redland City Council Mayor and the area's Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) chairwoman Karen Williams calls for the state government to consider a phased re-opening of the comatose tourism destination which has laid off more than 500 workers.
Cr Williams lead the charge to close down the island to visitors ahead of Easter, in a bid to protect the island's vulnerable indigenous and elderly populations from Covid-19.
However more than a month later, she says it's time the island started returning to normal as restrictions across the rest of the state begin to ease.
Cr Williams called a LDMG meeting this week to discuss a potential staged approach to reopening the island safely.
The meeting follows a plea from Member for Ooodgeroo Mark Robinson for the island to be re-opened to save its economy.
Cr Williams said the LDMG has now written to the State Government to request a phased plan to reopen the island in line with State and Federal health advice.
"We know the island is hurting financially, but we also know there are vulnerable people on the island, so we have asked for a phased process that provides plenty of notice for residents, businesses and tourists," Cr Williams said.
"We aren't asking them to open the floodgates right now, we are asking for a clear plan that recognises it will take time to return the island to normal.
"Ferry companies have reduced the number of vessels and their staff have taken leave, so they have told us they need two weeks' notice to return their services to normal.
"Our request to the State Government makes it clear that the island cannot just be turned back on at a moment's notice, we need some lead time and planning."
Cr Williams said the LDMG's recommendation was for a two staged process that allowed landowners with holiday homes to access the island first, followed by day-trippers and tourists, provided it was safe to do so.
"This all has to be done right and it has to be based on the most recent health advice," Cr Williams said.
"Having a phased plan that gives everyone plenty of notice will provide the community, businesses and tourists with the confidence they need and deserve.
"It will also give local businesses a light at the end of the tunnel, allowing them to resource staff and products so they can do what they do best - serve the community."
Division 2 Councillor Peter Mitchell said the fact that such a request was possible was down to the cooperation of the community in following health advice.
"In the main, people have been very understanding and cooperative, which means we can start to look at recovery planning," Cr Mitchell said.
"While this is an important and positive step in the right direction, we aren't there yet and the next step is for a detailed plan that reopens the island safely."
Originally published as North Stradbroke Island sets sights on re-opening