Popular areas in national parks close due to COVID-19

The Palaszczuk Government today announced the closure of a number of locations such as picnic areas, toilet facilities, lookouts, popular walking tracks, swimming areas and four-wheel drive beach recreation areas in National Parks across Queensland.

This follows the closure of National Park campgrounds last week in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said these targeted closures in Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) managed areas were necessary to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and align with actions already taken by other states and territories.

The closure of these popular day-use picnic areas, toilet facilities, swimming holes, and lookouts also includes four-wheel drive beach recreation areas like Bribie Island, Teewah Beach and Rainbow Beach.

It also includes high visitation areas in Springbrook National Park and the Cedar Creek Falls section of Tamborine National Park.

“This is not a decision we have made lightly,” the Minister 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.”

Minister Enoch said that while the government was trusting Queenslanders to do the right thing, unfortunately some members of the community continue to ignore the public health advice to stay at home and travel only when it’s essential, and are journeying into national parks in substantial numbers.

“The Chief Health Officer has made a direction which bans outdoor activities of more than two people, or more than a household,” Minister Enoch 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 QPWS rangers including those rangers with close links to high risk indigenous communities, and the general public.”

Increased signage will be in place to inform the public of closures, but locals should check Park Alerts online for the most up-to-date information about closures.

There will be some exemptions for entry into these areas for essential services or work by authorised personnel. A full list of exemptions will be available at https://parks.des.qld.gov.au

“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,” Ms Enoch said.

Queenslanders should only be using National Parks and forests which are close to their own home and they should observe all social distancing guidelines. If we continue to see breaches of the Chief Health Officers’ directions, we will be forced to close more park areas.

The closure of these areas will start to roll out from 3 April 2020.

A full list of closures is available at https://www.des.qld.gov.au

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