National parks to close after distancing rules ignored
ACCESS to multiple national parks and popular four-wheel-driving locations on the Sunshine Coast has been banned as the fight against coronavirus escalates.
The State Government today announced an extensive list of places across Queensland that will begin to close from tomorrow, including some of the largest drawcards for the Coast region.
The Glass House Mountains lookout, Noosa National Park's day use area and beaches in Bribie Island are among the latest recreational areas to fall victim to closures.
Environment and the Great Barrier Reef minister Leeanne Enoch said the announcement was necessary to help contain the spread of coronavirus and aligned with actions already taken by other states and territories.
"This is not a decision we have made lightly," she said.
"We need to ensure the safety of Queenslanders during this time and this decision aligns with the expert medical advice from the state's chief health officer.
"We have carefully considered the number of people currently accessing national parks and recreation areas and have taken the decision to close these specific areas which are still attracting a high number of people."
Ms Enoch said while the government was trusting Queenslanders to do the right thing, some members of the community continued to ignore the public health advice to stay home.
"The chief health officer has made a direction which bans outdoor activities of more than two people, or more than a household," she said.
"Queensland Police now have the option to issue on the spot fines for breaches of the chief health officer's directions.
"Today's decision will also help to ensure community wellbeing, as well as protect the health and safety of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers including those rangers with close links to high risk indigenous communities, and the general public."
Ms Wilson, along with Bribie Island residents, wrote to Ms Enoch on March 26 asking for the location to be shut to protect the largely elderly population on the island.
Despite school holiday plans already being derailed by the coronavirus outbreak, today's announcement of closures is sure to impact a large portion of the Coast's population.
The community's love for hiking spots was made clear last October after calls to prevent the climbing of popular Sunshine Coast mountains was largely met with backlash by the region's residents.
Increased signage will be in place to inform the public of closures, but Ms Enoch said locals should check Park Alerts online for the most up-to-date information about closures.
"The message is clear - the more we stay at home and away from other people, the more we save lives and if we need to do more, we will," she said.
LOCATIONS TO CLOSE TOMORROW:
Beerburrum East State Forest - Coochin Creek
Beerwah State Forest - Glass House Mountains Lookout
Bribie Island Recreation Area - Bribie Island Recreation Area including Main Beach, Ocean Beach and lagoons
Cooloola Recreation Area - Cooloola Recreation Area including Teewah Beach and Double Island Point
Great Sandy National Park - Rainbow Beach
Kondalilla National Park - Day use area and rockpools walk
Mapleton Falls National Park - Lookout
Mount Coolum National Park - Summit Track
Noosa National Park - Laguna Lookout; Noosa day use area; Noosa Coastal Walking Track (higher risk sections)