Some businesses in the Balonne Shire will be able to seat up to 20 people as of this weekend.
Some businesses in the Balonne Shire will be able to seat up to 20 people as of this weekend.

Balonne Shire businesses re-open under strict new rules

THE BALONNE Shire Council is undertaking an exhaustive education program as they work with local businesses who want to re-open their doors as part of the Stage 1 easing of coronavirus restrictions in Queensland.

Balonne Shire Mayor, Samantha O’Toole said council officers are contacting every business in the shire that is allowed to re-open, to walk them through the extensive new compliance guidelines and tailor workable solutions for each enterprise.

From this weekend, cafes, restaurants and pubs serving food will be able to open for a maximum of 20 dine-in customers. Beauty therapists and nail salons will be able to re-open with on-site customers limited to 10.

Cr O’Toole said the complex reopening guidelines have seen local businesses undertake a heavy compliance workload, from creating workplace health management plans, risk management checklists, to customer registers and escalated cleaning schedules.

“Council is working with business owners every step of the way to help them do the right thing and keep our community safe,” she said.

Cr O’Toole said for some businesses the arduous guidelines mean it is still not economically viable for them to open their doors.

“For those businesses that do re-open in this first four weeks of Stage 1, operations will be different from what everyone is used to,” she said.

“We really need customers to act with goodwill and help local businesses meet the stringent new trading regulations as we try and get our economy moving again.”

The State Government has handed the responsibility of ensuring businesses comply with the new requirements to Local Government.

“If complaints are received from the public, council officers will help the business owner assess how the issue can be solved. However, if there is repeated non-compliance, Council has the power to issue fines,” Cr O’Toole said.

If anyone believes a business is not complying, complaints can be made to Balonne Shire Council on 4620 8888.

Cr O’Toole said with the Balonne Shire on the edge of the COVID-19 Outback map, businesses will also have to make sure they are not taking in customers from restricted areas to the east, such as Goondiwindi and Toowoomba.

“These are extraordinary times, and I am proud of the collaboration between Council and the business community as we find solutions to the challenges this pandemic continues to throw at us,” she said.

Cr O’Toole said social distancing and practising good hygiene remains the best way to reduce risk during the coming weeks.


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