Following the latest advice from the Chief Medical Officerabout maximum numbers in mass gatherings being 100 people indoors and 500 people outdoors, as announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier on Wednesday, the Nature Parks has made significant changes to its operations to allow the outdoor Penguin Parade.
“The Penguin Parade visitor centre will effectively be treated as a ‘flow-through corridor’, so with the reduced capacity, we will not exceed the maximum of 100 people indoors,” said Catherine Basterfield, Phillip Island Nature Parks Chief Executive Officer. “The café, restaurant, theatre, retail and interpretive spaces within the visitor centre will be closed for the duration of this reduced capacity.”
“We are seeking further advice and clarification from the Chief Health Officer to confirm that this option is sustainable on an ongoing basis, as we are committed to supporting all measures and reductions in numbers to assist with the containment of COVID-19, especially for those in our community who are most vulnerable.”
The Nature Parks two outdoor attractions, the Koala Conservation Reserve and Churchill Island will remain open,however the Nobbies Visitor Centre and the Antarctic Journeywill close at 5pm today, and remain closed until further notice. The long term future of the Wild Oceans EcoBoat Adventures is still being determined.
“Since the initial announcement of a cap of 500 people allowed in mass gatherings, the Nature Parks has implemented the principles of social distancing, with reductions in all Penguin Parade viewing categories in a space which would normally hold up to 3,500 visitors, so there is plenty of space for visitors to avoid close contact.”
“As Phillip Island’s largest employer, we are pleased that we have come up with a plan to hopefully continue operations at the Penguin Parade with reduced capacity, support the containment of COVID-19, minimise the economic impact to Phillip Island, and support our 250 staff, most of whom live locally.”
“While operating the Penguin Parade with a capacity of only 450 visitors is actually a lossmaking activity for the Nature Parks, it does allow us to continue our staff’s employment, and avoid more drastic measures and impacts to the Phillip Island community as a whole.”