Bulloo Shire Mayor John
Bulloo Shire Mayor John "Tractor" Ferguson. Photo: Adam Head

Southwest town bans tourists: ‘we won’t cope with COVID-19’

BULLOO Shire Council is the latest local government to enact strong protection measures against coronavirus, by closing down all local camping sites and telling tourists to stay home.

The shire, which includes Thargomindah, Hungerford, Noccundra and Cameron Corner, has essentially closed down the region until the pandemic is over; almost all council-run facilities are shut, and tourists are being told to go back home.

In a statement, Bulloo Shire Council said it could not risk any cases of coronavirus coming to the region, because the local hospital would not cope.

"The Bulloo Shire is not the place for you to wait out COVID-19. We are essentially closed for business," the statement read.

"Our local health clinic is designed for our normal, small local population. We don't have the sophisticated health care system to cope with an outbreak of COVID-19 in our remote towns.

"Please stay home. If you are on your way, turn around and go home.

"We are putting the health of our community first, and we don't apologise for that."

With tourist season normally due to start in April, the pandemic has delivered a blow to businesses in outback Queensland.

Instead, Bulloo Shire Council urged visitors to come back next year, when the town will be open again.

"Council's focus is about ensuring the health and safety of the shire residents during these difficult times," the statement read.

"To achieve this, Council is following the guidelines set out by the Prime Minister and Queensland Government.

"This has resulted in closing various council facilities, stopped non-essential staff travel outside the shire, and rescheduled non-essential visits by contractors.

"All tourists who are still planning a trip to Thargomindah, Hungerford, Noccundra or Cameron Corner are strongly requested to cancel these plans for 2020.

"Whilst we would love you to come, we would prefer you stay home and visit us again in 2021 when we really need you to visit."