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COVID-19 restrictions eased for marine tourism

23 December 2020

The Chief Health Officer has approved relaxations to COVID Safe requirements on marine tourism vessels.

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the changes would mean more visitors could enjoy the Great Barrier Reef.

“Assistant Tourism Minister Michael Healy and I have been working closely with the Marine Tourism operators who wanted greater flexibility with COVID-19 requirements,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“The updated COVID Safe plan approved by the Chief Health Officer means Marine Tourism operators will be able accommodate more passengers onboard to improve business viability while meeting health obligations.”

Assistant Tourism Minister Michael Healy welcomed the amendments.

“The Marine Tourism industry has been hit hard this year by COVID-19 with the few operators who have been able to run tours to the reef struggling to break-even,” Mr Healy said.

“This review of requirements will make a difference to operators while also keeping passengers COVID safe.”

The approved changes include:
Private point to point ferry services under three hours travel time -  
  • Can operate 100 per cent of indoor seated capacity provided passengers are in ticketed and allocated seating
  • Passengers on day trips must return in their allocated seat
  • Mask wearing encouraged
  • Outside of household and social groups, one person per two seats
Round trip day vessels – 
  • Can operate with a capacity of one person per two square metres based on accessible indoor and protected outdoor spaces instead of previous one person per four metres, or
  • Can use up to 100 per cent of indoor seated capacity provided passengers are in ticketed and allocated seating
  • Passengers must maintain 1.5 metres physical distancing in food and drink kiosk areas
  • Operators must also manage the outdoor space to maintain one person per two square metres in these areas.
Mr Healy said the relaxations would provide certainty for operators ahead of the summer tourist season on the Great Barrier Reef.

“We’re continuing to work on COVID Safe arrangements for overnight reef operators so more visitors can explore the Far North’s famous Great Barrier Reef for longer and stay COVID safe.” Mr Healy said.

“The hard work of Queenslanders on COVID-19 has put us in a position to give the industry the hand up it needs to rebuild better and support jobs.”

Full details can be found here.