The Queensland government plans to reopen the state’s border to all NSW visitors from next month, provided its southern neighbour keeps community transmission of COVID-19 under control.
Stage 4 of Queensland’s roadmap started at 1am yesterday by extending the Northern NSW border zone and moving Queenslanders outside, where a Summertime Taskforce will also be established to identify more outdoor opportunities.
Unseated drinking and eating will come into effect across the state from 4pm today.
If there is no unlinked community transmission in NSW for 28 days, the Queensland government said Stage 5 could start from 1am on 1 November and will see the state’s border open up to NSW visitors and return travellers.
Queensland also plans to increase public gatherings to 40 people from next month and allow up to 40 people to dance at a wedding with a COVID Safe Plan.
Stage 6, which is scheduled to kick in from 1am on 1 December, will see public gatherings in Queensland increase to 50 people, increased attendances at outdoor events and no restrictions on people dancing at weddings.
The Queensland border will remain closed to Victoria until community transmission is under control, according to the state government.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the new roadmap gives more certainty to the Queensland community and businesses through to the end of this year by outlining monthly easing of restrictions.
“We have always said that we would continue to ease restrictions where we could in a staged and balanced way to keep Queenslanders safe – and this plan does just that,” she said.
“We’ve had to make hard decisions, but it is because of these decisions and the hard work of Queenslanders that we are in the position to continue easing restrictions.
“It’s because of our strong health response to the COVID-19 pandemic that we can get on with Queensland’s economic recovery plan.”
Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) Australia CEO Margy Osmond said a united tourism front in pushing for the border to reopen has led to Queensland easing restrictions for NSW travellers.
“TTF and industry have collectively been calling for clarity and timelines on the reopening of borders, and we congratulate the Queensland government for listening to a sector still on its knees,” she said.
“As borders continue to come down, I encourage the Queensland government agree to National Cabinet’s hotspot definition so that they might also join with NSW and the NT in welcoming back New Zealanders as well as Australians back to the sunshine state.”
Accor’s chief operating officer for the Pacific region, Simon McGrath, said the hotel group was delighted with the news of Queensland’s eased border restrictions, having previously been critical of the state.
“The decision to safely reopen the Queensland borders is a welcome one, and we thank the state government for making this decision,” he said.
“It will bring hope for the many thousands of Queenslanders employed in the tourism industry. It is good for local businesses, the economy and jobs.
“As a leader in domestic tourism, it is now possible for Queensland to begin the road to recovery, and we are predicting a significant summer increase in bookings as visitors now have the certainty they need to plan a holiday to Queensland for the summer.”
The state’s latest border update comes a week after it began welcoming back travellers from the ACT.
[NOTE: This article has been updated since publishing to include commentary by the Tourism & Transport Forum and Accor.]
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