Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced that the state’s borders will remain closed to Victorians.
“Today I want to address the issue of borders. Let me state from the outset, Queensland has very large concerns about the state of Victoria,” she told reporters today.
“There have been 250 cases in the past seven days. Yesterday, 75 and, today, 64.
“There is community transmission. There’ve been outbreaks in hotels, schools, healthcare, retail and a distribution centre. So, due to the current community transmission levels, the border with Victoria will remain closed and will be strengthened.
“Tougher measures will apply from this Friday, July 3, at 12pm.
“Anyone who has travelled from Victoria, including Queenslanders, will be prevented from entering or will have to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense for two weeks.
“We just can’t risk removing border restrictions for people coming from areas of Victoria right now.”
Queenslanders will discover today if they’ll be making a cheeky jaunt over the border soon.
Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has stood firm on when she would make an announcement on the easing of such restrictions, not budging on the June 30 deadline – even going so far as to laugh off border reopening date questions during a press conference on the weekend.
But the day has finally arrived when Queenslanders will find out how COVID-19 restrictions will be eased and that includes the contentious decision on the reopening of borders.
The Queensland Premier has assured the public numerous times that her decision would be supported by “evidence” and medical advice from chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young.
State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has pressured on the Palaszczuk Government to reopen borders ahead of schedule from July 1 and said during a press conference yesterday the Premier should be running the state, “not a medical expert”.
“If the Prime Minister says it’s safe for the borders to be open, well then it’s safe,” Ms Frecklington said.
When pressed on the situation in Victoria, where a gobsmacking 75 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded overnight, Ms Frecklington said the health advice for quarantine should be followed.
“I would encourage them not to travel, but visitors coming from hot spots in Victoria should quarantine for two weeks upon arrival and they should do so at their own cost,” she said.
Ms Frecklington said the Premier’s lack of decision-making on borders was costing jobs and closing businesses.
Businesses such as The Tour Collective are especially keen to see the border reopen.
The Tour Collective brand manager Lauren Horner said the border closure had hit every facet of the eco-tourism business, which operates marine and whale-watching tours out of southeast Queensland and the Gold Coast.
“We had to end our season earlier than normal and we are now operating at 50 per cent capacity,” Ms Horner said.
“It’s just not sustainable. We’d like to see borders open as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
Tourism Whitsundays chief executive officer Tash Wheeler said the Whitsunday region had been like a ghost town since borders were closed in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.
“We’re a global destination so the closure of borders has crippled us. Having said that we absolutely do not want to go backwards,” Ms Wheeler said.
“Now that school holidays have started in Queensland, the region is quite busy again and we’re receiving a lot of support from Queenslanders.
“What would help local businesses here most is an easing of restrictions in restaurants and on tours – or even a travel partnership with states who do not pose a serious risk to the public health.”
Today’s announcement is likely to flag the easing of restrictions from July 10, which is also the last day of school holidays in Queensland.
Up to 100 people will be permitted to gather in restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs, although opening borders is not covered in the state’s road map to easing restrictions.