By Growcom CEO Stephen Barnard

It has just been confirmed that Queensland will be opening its borders earlier than first anticipated, this coming Monday 13 December.

The Queensland Government had made a commitment to open to travellers from interstate hotspots by 17 December, or earlier should we reach 80 percent full vaccination. As at Monday 6 December the state sits at 78.5 percent.

This means from next Monday, we can no longer expect to live and operate our businesses in Queensland without any COVID-19.

We can however still expect the government to continue to take steps to suppress the virus to limit the speed of its spread until such a time as the threat of overwhelming our health services has passed.

While not confirmed, it’s conceivable these steps and measures could include lockdowns or movement controls on regional or local areas within Queensland, and the closure and deep clean of premises with a COVID case.

We’ve had a number of growers raise concerns with this next phase, particularly about losing days running their packing facilities to deep cleaning which could make or break their season. Their concerns and the risk are real, but also within their power to manage.  

Heading into an exceptionally busy festive season, where consumers expect to lay on a spread on Christmas Day of delicious fruits and vegetables, it’s now essential growers put in place plans and protocols to minimise any disruption caused by a positive COVID case in their workplace.

To this end, Growcom is working with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) to ensure the horticulture industry is best prepared to operate through this next phase of the pandemic response.

DAF has pulled together a range of valuable business continuity planning resources, including tips for developing a practical plan for how your business can prepare for, and continue to operate after a COVID-19 incident. A template plan is also available for adaptation by individual businesses.

Growcom will be raising awareness across the industry of the need to get ready, the resources available and of any important updates to government directives. In this task we’ll be leveraging our industry reach through direct communications channels, social media, and through our network of extension staff around the state.

For business and supply chain continuity, at least as important as putting a plan in place is getting vaccinated. We urge all individuals in horticulture who’ve delayed getting a jab to date, to make it priority now.

Business continuity planning resources and information on COVID-19 requirements can be found at the DAF Engagement Hub at https://daf.engagementhub.com.au/agcontinuity or by calling 13 25 23.