The ban on cruise ships has been extended to September. Picture: Mark Stewart
The ban on cruise ships has been extended to September. Picture: Mark Stewart

Whitsundays won’t welcome cruises until September

THE Whitsundays' horizon will remain empty of cruise ships for another three months following an extension to a nationwide ban.

In a statement released on Friday, the Australian Border Force said cruise ships would be prohibited from entering Australian waters until 17 September 2020.

The ban was originally supposed to come to an end in June.

According to the ABF, any cruise ship capable of carrying more than 100 passengers is prohibited from operating cruises in Australia.

CEO of Tourism Whitsundays Tash Wheeler said the region would welcome cruise ships back "when the time is right".

"First and foremost, we need to ensure the safety of our residents," she said.

"However, when the time is right, the region will welcome cruise ship visitors back. They provide vital visitation to the Whitsundays, especially during quieter months."

The famous Airlie Beach cruise markets will also be put on hold until ships return, although president of the Airlie Beach Lions Club Helen Toy said she was "unsurprised" by the news.

"We fully expected they wouldn't be coming back soon," she said.

"If they are coming back this way we will be guided by the advice at the time.

"We're keen to start the cruise ship markets again as soon as it's safe."

It is yet to be decided when the regular Saturday markets would return as Ms Toy said the site of the markets was difficult to monitor in line with restrictions.

The Queensland Health directive allows markets, however operators must ensure patrons do not gather in groups of more than 10, with no more than one person per four square metres and social distancing observed.

Ms Toy said the open-air space on the foreshore meant it would be hard to monitor numbers and operate in line with the limits.

"The current restrictions make it almost impossible," she said.

"Other markets have got a confined area and can manage it very well.

"We're missing it, but we've got to use some common sense and be guided by the advice at the time."


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