The Queensland government has announced it will open borders to NSW from 1am on 3 November, except for Sydney.
During a press conference this morning, State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the state would remain closed to Victoria and the Greater Sydney area.
The decision comes as Queenslanders prepare to vote in the state election tomorrow.
Palaszczuk said the decision was based on the advice of the chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young who holds concerns about community transmission.
“I have reviewed the situation in NSW and prior to yesterday they had four LGAs [local government areas] in Sydney that had had cases of community transmission that NSW was unable to link to any known clusters, which means that they have transmission and they don’t know where it is coming from,” she said.
Residents of 32 (LGAs) in Sydney and those who have visited the area in the past 14 days will be banned from entering Queensland.
The Tourism and Transport Forum’s CEO Margy Osmond said the decision is a monumental missed chance.
“Delaying opening to regional NSW from the 1st to the 3rd of November and not opening to the 32 LGAs comprising Greater Sydney without any new date for that re-opening is yet another blow to a sector which in Queensland is bleeding $2.3 billion a month,” Osmond said.
“All Australians including Queenslanders want travel certainty and want to be able to plan to visit friends and family in the leadup to Christmas, in what ideally should be a busy summer travel period ahead.
“Our tourism, accommodation, aviation and events industries are hurting each and every single day that the bulk of this border remains closed.
“Safety is critical but numbers of COVID cases have become manageable and many states have shown that they can effectively manage the risk rather than the emergency.”
Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ) chairman Graeme Samuel said the decision to keep Queensland’s borders closed to nearly five million Australians living in NSW had significant consequences; hurting businesses, the economy and families who continue to be separated.
“Australia’s domestic airlines have worked tirelessly since the start of this pandemic to support essential, COVID-safe travel, and manage risk on the basis of health and medical advice,” he said.
“Our members are simply perplexed, however, by the approach taken today which just extends the uncertainty for so many Australians.”
A Virgin Australia spokesperson said Queensland’s border announcement was disappointing news for many of its customers and team members who want to return to work, do business and reconnect with family and friends.
“Our decision to reintroduce Queensland services which were suspended as part of our response to COVID-19 is reliant on the Greater Sydney region reopening to Queensland,” the spokesperson said.
“The announcement by the Queensland government will allow us to increase frequencies between Brisbane and Newcastle from three times per week to six flights per week from 9 November.
“Virgin Australia will continue to monitor border restrictions and make any changes to our network as travel restrictions ease.”
Travel Weekly reported yesterday that Flight Centre Travel Group had made a second request for the medical advice that the Queensland government relied on when it closed the state’s border.
The new request, lodged by the company this week, focuses on the decision to close the Queensland border in August, just weeks after it reopened.
It follows an earlier document request made by FCTG on 9 June and related to the government’s initial border closure in March.
[PLEASE NOTE: THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE PUBLISHING TO INCLUDE COMMENTARY BY A4ANZ.]
Featured image source: Facebook/Annastacia Palaszczuk