IN PHOTOS: When locals can return to Tweed's beach car parks
AFTER weeks of being off limits, Tweed Shire Council took only minutes to open the region's beachside carparks.
The vote was unanimous at Thursday night's council meeting to cease all closures, except for Letitia Rd in Fingal Head, which was previously approved for closure until June 30.
The removal of barriers began yesterday in line with gradual lifting of pandemic restrictions across the nation.
Duranbah Beach and Jack Evans Boat Harbour, Kingscliff, Cabarita Beach, Hastings Point, Hastings Point Headland and Pottsville will be opened as soon as possible.
Mayor Katie Milne said the council was not left with another option after the Gold Coast closed its beaches and beachside carparks over the holiday period that included their Labour Day.
"We understand this caused concern for many beachside residents but it was untenable to have large numbers of Gold Coast residents descending en masse onto the Tweed beaches during the holidays," she said.
"It was a tricky situation, there was no perfect solution.
"We realise it has been inconvenient to our residents as well but we needed to weigh up the positives and negatives.
"The support of the community has been fantastic and the response on the whole has been very tolerant and understanding - keep up the good work."
Cr Milne said the council should be proud that it took a quick proactive and precautionary approach from the start to protect the 32 per cent of high-risk residents aged over 60 in the region.
"We knew we'd be in big trouble if things went the other way around here," she said.
"However now is not the time to be complacent - as restrictions are being lifted we need to be more vigilant that ever before."
Cr Milne said Queenslanders coming across the border into the Tweed had been an ongoing point of contention in the region, particularly with the high rate of coronavirus cases on the Gold Coast.
"I still believe the better approach would have been a consistent one, with the border being closed both ways," she said.
"The community did feel quite aggrieved that we were not protected as much as we should have been."
In April, Tweed Shire Council closed council-owned beach carparks and roads in response to the coronavirus amid fears the Easter break would result in an influx of visitors and a breach of travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines, leading to the possible spread of the pandemic.
Last fortnight, the council voted to extend the original closure of beachside carparks until April 27 to after May 4.
The vote included reopening 30 carpark spaces on a two-hour parking limit in the off-street carpark adjacent to Lions Park south of Cudgen Surf Life Saving Club in Kingscliff for easier access to businesses including a doctor's practice, chemist and physiotherapist.
Councillors considered three options - extending all closures until June 30, extending closures until an unspecified date before June 30 or to reopen all closed carparks and roads, except Letitia Rd.
If considered necessary, the closures could be reinstated.