Restrictions to ease on charter boat numbers
More people will be allowed on tourism charter boats after the Chief Health Officer approved relaxations to COVIDSafe requirements.
Private point to point ferry services under three hours travel time can operate 100 per cent of indoor seated capacity provided passengers are in ticketed and allocated seating.
Round trip day vessels can use up to 100 per cent of indoor seated capacity provided passengers are in ticketed and allocated seating.
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the changes would mean more visitors could enjoy the Great Barrier Reef.
"Assistant Tourism Minister Michael Healy and I have been working closely with the Marine Tourism operators who wanted greater flexibility with COVID-19 requirements," Mr Hinchliffe said.
"The updated COVID Safe plan approved by the Chief Health Officer means Marine Tourism operators will be able accommodate more passengers onboard to improve business viability while meeting health obligations."
The move comes after weeks of pressure from the LNP, led by Whitsunday MP Amanda Camm, for the State Government to scrap the restrictions.
Capacity limits have been in place on charter boats for months in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Under a Queensland public health order, tourism dive tours, fishing charters and boat operators have been forced to limit their capacity.
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said this rule did not apply to aeroplane travel because contact tracers know where each person was seated compared to free movement on boats.
Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association president Tony Brown said these restrictions, on top of the NSW border closure, were impacting the viability of businesses in the Whitsundays during peak tourism season.
"We're getting slammed twice in that regard," he said.
Mr Brown said Whitsunday tourism operators were losing as much as $1.3 million per week.
One tourism operator told him they had received 250 email cancellations this week alone.
"The higher carrying vessels are wanting changes to help them lift their capacity and set up tracing systems so they can keep the information," he said.
COVID restrictions eased for marine tourism
Private point to point ferry services under three hours travel time -
· Can operate at 100 per cent of indoor seated capacity provided passengers are in ticketed and allocated seating
· Passengers on day trips must return in their allocated seat
· Mask wearing encouraged
· Outside of household and social groups, one person per two seats
Round trip day vessels -
· Can operate with a capacity of one person per two square metres based on accessible indoor and protected outdoor spaces instead of previous one person per four metres, or;
· Can use up to 100 per cent of indoor seated capacity provided passengers are in ticketed and allocated seating
· Passengers must maintain 1.5 metres physical distancing in food and drink kiosk areas
· Operators must also manage the outdoor space to maintain one person per two square metres in these areas.
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