An easing of restrictions allows some Douglas shops to re-open


Karlie Brady


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Moonglow Jewellery Port Douglas store owner, Jenny Clarke is one of the local shop owners able to reopen on Saturday after restrictions ease. Image: Supplied.

The Douglas Shire’s retail sector has welcomed yesterday’s announcement by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that certain COVID-19 restrictions will be eased, particularly the relaxation of rules around shopping for non-essential items.

From 11.59pm Friday, 1 May, Queenslanders will be able to leave their homes for recreational purposes such as:

  • Shopping for non-essential items
  • Going for a drive
  • Riding a motorbike, jetski or boat for pleasure;
  • Having a picnic;
  • Visiting a national park

But there are three conditions that apply linked to the above:

  • Social distancing and hygiene must be maintained
  • You have to stay within 50km of home and
  • Outings are limited to members of the same household or an individual and one friend

Following the announcement, some Port Douglas business have decided to re-open, such as Moonglow Jewellery Port Douglas, which has been closed since mid-March.

Owner, Jenny Clarke, said it was a very stressful time deciding to close the store but ultimately it was done to slow the spread of the virus and discourage people from being out when restrictions were in place to stop non-essential movements.

“It was a very hard decision to make, it was our only income and I had to stand staff down and that was the hardest thing,” she said.

However, now that the government has allowed shopping for non-essential items, Ms Clarke is relieved she can re-open and provide work for her staff.

“We will start on reduced hours, 10:00am till 2:00pm, and see how it goes, keeping social distancing measures in place, using hand sanitiser and wiping down surfaces regularly,” she said.

The new measures announced yesterday by the Premier will be reviewed after two weeks with the number of new COVID-19 infections watched closely.

“The first sign of a spike we will not hesitate to clamp back,” the Premier said.

“This is a test-run to see what effect easing restrictions has on the containment of COVID-19.”

Senior Sergeant Damian Meadows, Officer-in-Charge in Port Douglas, said social distancing is our best defence and still remains in force.

“People can go have a picnic at the beach but they need to ensure that social distancing is maintained,” he said.

“You can’t just go down to the beach and sit with 15 different people from different addresses, they have to be from the same household or family.”

Some national parks are also re-opening for day use, however, facilities such as toilets will remain closed.

“The biggest key is that 50km distance, so if you travel from Cairns to Port Douglas, technically if it is not essential travel, then you are outside your distance because it is greater than 50km.

“Obviously, however, there have been reductions of restrictions on shopping so if you need to go to Cairns for specialist items that you cannot get here in the Douglas Shire, that is fine.”

Sergeant Meadows said on the whole locals have been abiding by the restrictions well.

“The evidence is clearly there when you look at the number of COVID-19 cases in the Douglas Shire, we have only had one reported case and that was someone who had travelled overseas.

“We applaud the sacrifices that people are making and the more we stick to these rules the sooner this will be over,” he said.

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