HELP: Owners of Hunchy Hideaway Ali Keeler and Denis French along with LNP Member for Nicklin Marty Hunt are calling on the State Government to ease COVID-19 restrictions. Picture: Contributed
HELP: Owners of Hunchy Hideaway Ali Keeler and Denis French along with LNP Member for Nicklin Marty Hunt are calling on the State Government to ease COVID-19 restrictions. Picture: Contributed

‘Let us open’: Struggling business pleas for rule relaxation

THE owners of a hinterland accommodation business are pleading with the State Government to relax COVID-19 restrictions as they turn away thousands of dollars in bookings.

Hunchy Hideaway's owners Ali Keeler and Denis French have lost $75,000 in the past two months, a time which was meant to be their busiest, as a result of restrictions which prohibit overnight recreational travel before June 12.

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The pair, who have been operating their tranquil rainforest cottages for 11 years, said the financial burden of the restrictions had made 2020 their most challenging year.

"This has never happened before, for the last 11 years from Easter through to October has been our bread making time, we probably make twice as much in that six months than we do in the summer months, so to come at this time is very bad," Mr French said.

"We have managed to get the bank to give us the mortgage break, but in October we have to have enough money to take us through the summer (quiet time) to pay that mortgage for the next six months, so it has been a big financial hit," Mrs Keeler said.

The owners said the rules were "unnecessary and unfair" for their business which provides a COVID-19 safe environment.

"We have five fully self-contained cabins, all separate from each other with no common areas. You don't have to see anyone else and that's what people like about it," she said.

"Why can't people come? We have been saying it for the last month."

Member for Nicklin Marty Hunt called on the government to urgently ease restrictions on some accommodation services.

"A couple from Brisbane can come to the Sunshine Coast have a party in the park with 10 of their friends, join five of their friends at someone's house, but that couple can't come up here and hire a private cottage for the weekend. It just defies logic and the tourism business are really hurting because of this," he said.

"As long as people can provide a COVID safe environment and it makes sense it should be open.

"It can be difficult to define these things, but it's a difficult job worth doing … it's not worth waiting because it's too hard. You can't put people's livelihoods and businesses in the too hard basket."

Ms Keeler was concerned that while they turn away business trying to do the right thing, others are flaunting the rules.

"We are following the guidelines and turning away thousands of dollars of business at the moment and we now know that they are all just booking elsewhere. We feel pretty cheated because the rules are obviously not being policed," she said.

"Let us open now for the next two weeks or so and we make probably 12 to 13 thousand dollars and that will pay a couple months of mortgage for us and that makes a big difference in the end."



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