Queensland has revealed its plan to reopen borders, but one much hated feature looks set to stay for the time being.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk revealed the state’s plan to reopen its border before Christmas this week, but there are signs it could be closed again in the future.
Ms Palaszczuk outlined the state’s “liquid” Covid plan on Monday, that is entirely dependent on when Queensland hits its 70 and 80 per cent vaccine milestones.
When Queensland hits 70 per cent double dose – which Ms Palaszczuk said she expected by November 19 – fully vaccinated interstate residents from declared hotspots will be allowed to fly into Queensland.
They will need to have received a negative Covid test within 72 hours of their flight and will then have to quarantine for 14 days at a home.
When Queensland hits 80 per cent double dose – expected on December 17 – fully vaccinated Australians from interstate will be free to drive or fly into the state.
The negative Covid test within 72 hours of the flight will still be required however home quarantine will be scrapped.
And at 90 per cent double dose vaccination, Queensland will completely open its domestic and international borders, with no quarantine or entry requirements for vaccinated travellers.
But despite plans for the border to reopen, border declarations and a police presence will remain at Queensland’s key entry points causing concern for holiday-makers.
“This is really important that we unite Queenslanders but we do it in the safest way. We are going to try to minimise the risk and there are key steps along the path,” Ms Palaszczuk said this week.
News.com.au asked Ms Palaszczuk’s office whether there would be border declarations and a police presence at entry points once 80 per cent vaccination rate is hit.
A spokesperson confirmed that “the border measures will remain in place at that time”.
The checkpoints could remain in place to ensure people travelling to Queensland are vaccinated, creating traffic chaos during the holiday period.
The Courier Mail reported sources claimed checkpoints could be maintained, or border controls could revert to random checks of motorists coming into Queensland as happened before the barricades went up.
But resources have been stretched with reinforcements being called in from across the state, as well as Australian Defence Force troops.
The border checkpoints would be a cause for concern over the period with the Gold Coast and Tweed entry points to the state often ripe for traffic issues.
Throughout the pandemic, those wishing to enter Queensland through these entry points have been forced to sometimes wait hours in traffic.
Signs Queensland was fortifying border checkpoints
Earlier this month, news.com.au reported on signs that Queensland was strengthening its border checkpoints.
Photos taken on the Gold Coast Highway, which serves as the main border checkpoint between NSW and Queensland, showed massive drive-through marquees had been erected.
Concrete blocks have also been used to hold down the tents, which are large enough to allow semi-trailers to pass through.
As reported by The Courier Mail, the decision to erect the marquees was to protect the police, stationed at the border checkpoints, from the elements, however the permanency of the arrangement has triggered fears the checkpoints could be in place for a long time.
The marquees and concrete barricades were installed across the northbound highway lanes at Bilinga last week, near the Gold Coast Airport.
WA won’t follow Queensland’s lead
Despite Queensland’s plan to reopen its border, there are no plans for Western Australia to do the same thing.
Premier Mark McGowan said his state was in a different position to Queensland because there were less Covid-19 health safety measures in place.
“Queensland has social safety measures in place and I don’t want to do that at Christmas,” he said this week.
”Imagine if we opened up like they’re proposing to do before Christmas and we have to put in place mask wearing requirements and restrictions on the number of people going to restaurants and cafes, how many people can come to Christmas lunch.
“Setting out the timetable Queensland has is not something we’re going to do.”
NSW-Victoria border reopens
Vaccinated NSW residents will no longer need to get a Covid test or isolate on arrival when visiting Victoria, with the state government easing restrictions further for interstate travel.
Victoria’s Chief Health Medical Officer Brett Sutton said the updated advice means there will be no more red zones in NSW from today, with greater Sydney to become an orange zone.
Travellers from the Sydney region, Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong will still need an orange permit to visit Victoria — but the requirement for a negative Covid test and isolation upon arrival has been scrapped.
But for those who are unvaccinated, the process will be a little different
Anyone unvaccinated planning a trip from anywhere in NSW to Victoria will have to isolate on arrival, get tested within 72 hours, and remain in isolation until they receive a negative result.
Outside of Greater Sydney, the rest of NSW will become a green zone, but travellers will still need a permit.