Owners of Airlie Beach Treehouse cafe Grant Restieaux and Rebecca Binet are excited to open this week under new restrictions. Photo: Claudia Alp
Owners of Airlie Beach Treehouse cafe Grant Restieaux and Rebecca Binet are excited to open this week under new restrictions. Photo: Claudia Alp

DOORS OPEN: Relaxed rules signal slow return to normal

THE fast-tracked easing of restrictions may have caught some businesses off-guard but has nonetheless been welcomed by cafe and restaurant owners in the Whitsundays.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced yesterday that up to 20 people are now allowed to dine in or have a drink in restaurants, cafes, pubs, registered or licensed clubs, RSL clubs, hotels and casinos.

The change came a week before originally expected and Ms Palaszczuk said it was brought forward due to the “remarkable” work the public has done in abiding by restrictions and keeping the number of COVID-19 cases low.

The announcement yesterday came as a surprise to co-owner for Airlie Beach Treehouse Rebecca Binet who had been hard at work behind closed doors.

Ms Binet said the cafe had been shut since March but her team had been spending the downtime ticking some items of the to-do list.

“We’ve made the most of the opportunity and have been quite busy, there’s been a lot of little projects I wanted to get done,” she said.

“As much as it’s been a downer, it’s been good to get some little things done.”

While some of these projects are still underway, the lagoon-side venue will reopen this Saturday with what Ms Binet said were “a lot more viable” restrictions.

“We’re really excited to open the doors and show everyone what we’ve done and have people in here again,” Ms Binet said.

“10 people for us wasn’t viable, we quite often get tables of 10 people in at once, which meant we were stuck.

“20 is a lot more viable, it’s a better number and we can have a few more families and couples in.”

Restaurants, including the Reef Gateway Hotel, will be able to cater to 20 people under eased restrictions.
Restaurants, including the Reef Gateway Hotel, will be able to cater to 20 people under eased restrictions.

Ms Binet also hoped the eased travel restrictions allowing Queenslanders to holiday freely across the state would boost numbers in Airlie Beach.

“(I’m looking forward to) just seeing the town buzz again, it was really sad seeing this little bustling town absolutely dead,” she said.

“I’m excited to have lots of Australian locals as well. Hopefully we get a bit of the school holidays crowd.”

Another venue welcoming the move was Reef Gateway Hotel, which reopened last week under the 10-person limit.

Function manager Paula Hovey said the further relaxation would allow for more people to enjoy some sorely missed socialising at their regular haunt.

“We have a lot of locals that coming here was their only social thing,” she said.

“There’s a few older gentlemen who come down every day and they haven’t been able to do that. So it will be good to see the regular faces again.”

Ms Hovey hoped the upcoming school holidays, which was typically their busiest time, would boost numbers in the bistro.

She also looked forward to seeing “a bit of laughter after all this doom and gloom”.

The bistro will be open from Friday to Sunday for lunch and dinner and the Sports Bar will be open from 3pm to 8pm


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