Annabelle Edwards, Camilla Hansen, Jessica Edwards, Ellie Hooper splash around at the Airlie Beach Lagoon before it was closed due to COVID-19.
Annabelle Edwards, Camilla Hansen, Jessica Edwards, Ellie Hooper splash around at the Airlie Beach Lagoon before it was closed due to COVID-19.

Questions remain over opening of lagoon

A QUESTION mark remains over when, or even if, the Airlie Beach Lagoon will reopen under new coronavirus restrictions.

Last week, the State Government announced public pools and lagoons could open with a maximum of 10 people at a time or greater numbers with an approved plan.

Division 1 councillor Jan Clifford questioned when the lagoon would reopen and how numbers would be policed at yesterday’s council meeting.

“As pools and lagoons are due to open with the lifting of the COVID-19 lockdowns, how on earth are we going to keep the lagoon, for instance, down to 10 people?” she said.

“Have we got some kind of management plan in place or are we working on one? Because the last thing I want is all of a sudden for us to be naughty people and get locked down back to zero (like) eight weeks ago.”

The Airlie Lagoon has been closed for the safety of the community since late March.
The Airlie Lagoon has been closed for the safety of the community since late March.

Whitsunday Regional Council disaster management co-ordinator Matt Fanning said council had submitted a request to reopen the lagoon for more people.

“Council has put a request for information through to the State Government seeking exemption for the ten-person ruling so that we can allocate a larger number of persons to the Airlie Lagoon,” he said.

“We submitted with that application a management plan stating how we would control the numbers.

“We’ve requested for up to 100 people to use the lagoon and to have the lifeguard services managing the social distancing as well as water safety aspects of the operation.”

Mayor Andrew Willcox supported the application, saying further clarification was needed to determine what was allowed.

“It’s just important we get some clarity; it says 10 people, is that 10 in the lagoon or 10 around the outside?” he said.

Cr Willcox said if 100 people were allowed under council’s application, the lagoon would be strictly monitored to ensure everyone was abiding by social distancing.

“We’re putting in a rapid response plan so if things do go pear-shaped or we have a peak or a spike we can deal with it, but we need to start opening some things and trying,” he said.

“I believe the people of the Whitsundays have done the right thing and they need to be rewarded for their efforts.”


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