‘Dancing on the streets’ Queenslanders lap up freedom
QUEENSLANDERS will ditch the trackie dacks and emerge from isolation today, hitting the beaches and descending on restaurants with a hint of the same elation and exhilaration felt on VE day after World War II.
The Sunshine State gets its first taste of freedom today, with restaurants and beauty salons flush with bookings and bumper-to-bumper traffic expected as people take day trips for the first time in months.
The tourist spots of North Stradbroke, Fraser and Moreton islands are also open to day-trippers and the protective wrappings have been pulled off playgrounds.
Leading demographer Bernard Salt said the excitement and relief would be palpable - much like it was at the end of World War II when historic scenes of elation broke out.
"There is always a heightened thrill when freedom is returned after adversity or lockdown," he said.
"Certainly the loss of freedom and loss of life during the pandemic is not the same as the war, but the mindset is the same.
"This weekend will be savoured. People may feel like dancing on the streets like they did in 1945, but they will have to do it from a distance."
From today, parks, playgrounds and barbecues will reopen as part of Stage 1 of a three-stage plan to lift some of the more onerous COVID-19 restrictions by mid-July.
Businesses are expected to reopen - adding more than 50,000 people back to the workforce - including some restaurants, although only 10 people are allowed at a time and bookings must be made.
Beauty salons will also be able to open to 10 clients at a time for some services including waxing, laser treatments, nail painting, eyelash extensions, facials and injections.
Drivers can also travel up to 150km from home, increasing to 500km for those in regional or "outback" areas.
Up to 10 people will be able to gather outside at weddings, pools and for exercise.
Mr Salt acknowledged the lockdown during the pandemic was particularly tough for outdoorsy Queenslanders.
"Queenslanders, unlike people from other countries, like snowy Canada, have no real lockdown season where they are restricted to the home," he said. "Being stuck inside has been a shock as they have never been denied the freedom to go where they wanted."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison lauded the "brave" businesses that will reopen this weekend, even though it was unlikely to be profitable.
Just 24 hours after revealing the "devastating" loss of almost 600,000 jobs in April, Mr Morrison championed the Australian spirit as businesses prepared to reopen.
"As businesses and cafes and others are opened up this weekend, those businesses, knowing that at just 10 patrons at a time, that won't necessarily be a profitable patronage for them to really sustain that, they're backing themselves, they're backing their staff, they're backing their communities, and they're backing their country,'' Mr Morrison said after National Cabinet yesterday. "I want to commend them for that brave step that they're taking this weekend. Good on you for reopening. And I'm sure your patrons will come and support you strongly as well."
Mr Morrison flagged a $20 billion boost for domestic tourism as the industry's overseas wings remain clipped.
Mr Morrison, pushing states on removing border restrictions, said he hoped Australians could have a break over July school holidays.
Health Minister Greg Hunt also announced a further $48 million for mental health support.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urged Queenslanders not to become complacent as restrictions eased and said two new coronavirus cases overnight were cause for concern.
"We are not out of the woods," she said.
Brisbane's Maraya Palfery moved down from the Sunshine Coast just before restrictions hit so is very excited to finally explore the city and return to visit her family.
"I can't wait to just go out and be able to do stuff, like going to cafes, sitting down near the river but I'm definitely going back to the beach this weekend," she said.
"I went back for Mother's Day but it will be so nice to see them more and not 'FaceTiming' all the time."
Originally published as 'Dancing on the streets' Queenslanders lap up freedom