Manager of ROYAL on Ninety-nine Sam Fisher and Tilman Nellen.
Manager of ROYAL on Ninety-nine Sam Fisher and Tilman Nellen.

‘Positive start:’ Country pubs need more to remain viable

AFTER call-outs from business owners that regional areas deserve to open ahead of their metropolitan counterparts, the premier has rewarded their hard work.

But local business owners say it still won't be enough to keep them financially viable.

Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk made the announcement less than one hour after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced National Cabinet would enact a three-step plan to develop a COVID-safe Australia

The two special conditions for Outback Queensland residents reflects the importance of long-distance travel and of dining venues in the communities.

From next Saturday, pubs and restaurants in rural parts of the state will be open to seat twenty customers at a time. Those residents will also be able to travel up to 500 kilometres.

Owner of ROYAL on Ninety-nine, Justin Garvie said while the 20 people limit won't be enough to see financial benefits, it's a positive step in the right direction.

"Are 20 customers going to make a difference? It's still costing us money to stay open," he said.

"It's definitely a positive start; any extra trade we are definitely on board with.

"It doesn't mean we are going to put on a heap of extra staff, we will hopefully be able to have some more staff pick up shifts, and will just adapt as the new stages roll out."

Mr Garvie said the Royal will jump on board with the announcement and start taking bookings as of next week, as well as continuing delivery and operating the bottle shop.

"It'll be good, we'll have some people sitting in here for lunch and dinner and might have a breakfast option as well, depending on the figures and whether we can make it viable," he said.

"It's not going to make a big difference in the short term but we're on the right path and we're moving forward quicker then what we hoped.

"If we get stage one working, and there are still no cases that will allow us to move to stage two and three which will make the difference.

"The fact that Scott Morrison has announced that he will have the economy up and running again by July gives us some confidence that things should start to happen very quickly."

From 11.59pm, Friday May 15, the following will be allowed throughout the state:

Gatherings of a maximum of 10 people together in a public space

Dining at restaurants, pubs, clubs, RSLs and cafes for a maximum of ten patrons at one time as part of a gradual reopening (no bars or gaming)

Recreational travel of a radius of up to 150km from your home for day trips

Some beauty therapies and nail salons for up to ten people at one time

Re-opening of libraries, playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gyms (maximum ten people at a time)

Wedding guests of ten people and funeral attendees of 20

Open homes and auctions with a maximum of ten people at one time

Re-opening public pools and lagoons, with a maximum of ten people at a time.

In addition, for Outback Queensland, whether there have been no COVID cases, two special concessions have been made:

Dining in at pubs and cafes will be up to 20 for locals only, reflecting the important role these venues play in connecting small outback communities; and

Recreational travel of a radius of up to 500mk reflecting the long distances in the Outback.

Mr Garvie is hoping that the trend of relaxing restrictions for regional areas earlier then the rest of the state will continue.

"The information we received is that they wouldn't look at regional towns differently but rather the state as a whole," he said.

"And obviously the message that regional towns should be treated differently has gotten through and they're looking at us in a different light which is definitely really positive."

Mr Garvie said while they have only managed to keep on around ten of their staff out of the 45, stage three of the rollout which would allow pubs to open and gatherings up to 100 people could see 20 more staff members rehired.

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