Queensland has paused all interstate hotspot arrivals for two weeks, but its hard border with NSW may last until at least the end of October.
From midday today until at least 8 September, those who have been in NSW, Victoria, the ACT or any other hotspots in the past 14 days will not be allowed to enter Queensland without an exemption.
This came not long after the state’s health department told ABC News that Queensland’s border would remain closed to NSW until it has vaccinated 70 per cent of its population.
“Queensland has been overwhelmed by new arrivals relocating to escape interstate lockdowns, placing huge pressure on our hotel quarantine system,” Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk said on Facebook.
“New arrivals and Queensland residents will have to reapply for a border pass. This is about keeping Queenslanders safe from the Delta variant.”
The Queensland government said its hotel quarantine spots were at capacity, “largely from interstate hotspot residents moving to Queensland”.
“With the continued escalation of outbreaks in New South Wales and Victoria, there has been an influx of people relocating to Queensland,” an update on the state’s COVID-19 dedicated website said.
“This, along with regular overseas arrivals, has placed extraordinary pressure on our hotel quarantine capacity.
“While we’ve accommodated them until now, we need to put a temporary two-week pause on relocating to Queensland, to ensure our hotel quarantine capacity is kept for those who need it most.”
Between 9 and 20 August, 2,750 border passes were granted for relocating to Queensland, including almost 2,000 in a single week.
Meanwhile, the end date for the state’s hard border closure with NSW now relies on Queensland’s vaccination numbers.
Queensland health estimates this could take around 10 weeks.
“This is based on the timeframe in which we hope to have 70 per cent of Queenslanders fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” a spokesperson for the health department told ABC News.
The announcement provided a devastating blow to businesses in the south of the state.
NSW Cross-border Commissioner James McTavish told the national broadcaster that Queensland’s response had been “heavy-handed”.
“We’ve represented very strongly to the Queensland government that we’d like to see a reinstated arrangement for border communities — not just for Tweed, but also further afield as well,” McTavish said.
Featured image source: YouTube/thepremier.qld.gov.au