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Calls for support for Cairns businesses struggling due to COVID lockdowns

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COVID-19 lockdowns in southern states are taking a significant toll on hospitality and tourism operators in Far North Queensland, with fresh calls for more support.

Cairns Chamber of Commerce CEO Partricia O’Neill says there was a welcome influx of interstate visitors during the school holidays but now “it’s like someone literally turned the tap off.”

With Melbourne, Sydney and South Australia shut out of the state, Ms O’Neill says some businesses could have to lay-off staff and even shut shop.

“We’re hearing from tourism operators, they are losing between $3 million to $5 million a day,” she says.

“We have retailers reporting not a single transaction on their cash registers in a day.”

The Chamber has joined a nationwide push for more support for all hospitality and tourism businesses.

“There needs to be a stake put in the ground to...recognise or understand that these businesses are suffering as much as businesses are from lockdown,” Ms O’Neill says.

“Not just financially but psychologically as well, we have staffed up as best we can as a business community and now we’re as business owners looking at having to put people off.”

“The psychological damage that this is doing from a mental health perspective will probably cost the nation more than the pandemic itself.”

(Photo: by Jorge Lascar via CC by 2.0)