South Australia and Western Australia have both flagged further easing of coronavirus restrictions.
In a win for SA’s local tourism scene, Premier Steven Marshall has announced pubs, gyms, cinemas, places of worship, beauty salons and other sites can have up to 80 people on their premises from 1 June, as long as they comply with appropriate safeguards.
The accelerated changes include requirements of a 20-person maximum per room, up to a maximum of 80 throughout a facility, if they are able to physically distance appropriately and meet density requirements.
It also allows patrons to consume alcohol without the requirement of a meal if they are seated in a room with a maximum of 20 customers.
As noted by the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC), this means Adelaide’s wine bars, and the state’s regional pubs and cellar doors (but minus wine tastings), can re-open to the community – a boon ahead of the June long weekend.
“Thanks to our state’s world-leading response to the threat of COVID-19, we are now in a position to give many more South Australian businesses a head start, and with potentially four times the capacity as to what was first flagged in our initial roadmap,” Marshall said.
“Thousands of jobs throughout our state will now potentially be reactivated earlier and in greater numbers, fast-tracking our economic road to recovery in a safe and responsible way.”
In other good news for the sector, South Australia’s Department for Environment and Water yesterday flagged the launch of a $5 million co-investment fund that aims to fast-track eco-tourism projects.
The ‘Nature-Based Tourism Co-Investment Fund’ is part of South Australia’s Parks 2025 strategy, and will provide grants to organisations to partner with the state to deliver “sustainable, quality tourism experiences”.
These could range from walking journeys, wildlife experiences (including immersive marine wildlife experiences), Aboriginal and cultural tourism, and activating heritage in national parks.
It comes as the McGowan government announced Western Australia plans to further ease Phase 2 regional travel restrictions on Friday 29 May.
Regional boundaries will be lifted except for regions that are bound by the Commonwealth’s designated biosecurity determination and 274 remote Aboriginal communities, which the government is aiming to lift by Friday 5 June.
“I would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding, and I urge everyone who can travel to get out there, wander around WA and support local businesses,” Premier Mark McGowan said.
“Our local businesses and tourism operators need our support the most now.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has weighed in on the status of the trans-Tasman ‘travel bubble’, saying she expects to see Australia’s state borders open before kiwis cross the ditch, as reported by the Australian Associated Press.
It comes amid an ongoing border dispute led by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who has taken aim at her counterparts in WA, Queensland and SA over the continued closure of their states.
“The states haven’t opened up to each other yet,” Ardern told Radio New Zealand.
“Obviously, I would expect to see some of those issues resolved before we’d see them necessarily opening up to New Zealand and you can understand why.
“People want to be able to travel internally in Australia before they’d expect to be able to come across the ditch.”
Speaking later on 1 News, Ardern softened her language, saying the “most likely sequencing” is state borders opening up first.
“I imagine they’ll want to see those issues resolved around their domestic border, most likely first. That’s my expectation,” she said.
Featured image: iStock/mollypix