Queensland’s border will remain closed to New South Wales and Victoria until both states record no more community coronavirus transmissions.
Speaking to the press on Monday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her state’s hard border lockdown would remain until local infections are controlled in NSW and Victoria.
“I think we’re going to continue to see restrictions in Victoria up until Christmas time,” she said.
“That’s very unfortunate for people living there but it’s a serious situation.”
NSW on Monday confirmed seven new coronavirus cases, six of which were locally acquired and one that was diagnosed in a returned traveller, and a further two cases on Tuesday.
However, yesterday saw Victoria record the state’s deadliest day of the pandemic, with 25 more lives reported lost to the virus.
This came as the state reported 282 new coronavirus cases on Monday, and 222 on Tuesday – representing the third consecutive day of cases below 300 for the state.
Palaszczuk said she was putting the health of Queenslanders first with the move.
“You only have to look at what’s happening around the world and we definitely don’t want to see that happening here,” she said.
Queensland Police’s Deputy Commissioner, Steve Gollschewski, told reporters it was a busy long weekend at the Queensland border crossings, as thousands travelled by air and road.
He said: “132 flights came into the state, 7,230 passengers were processed and 19 were refused entry and 740 were placed into quarantine.
“At our road borders, we saw 8,861 vehicles intercepted, with 594 people turned around … we quarantined 27 people from the road border.
“We’re still seeing large numbers of people trying to get into the state that cannot lawfully do so.”
Gollschewski told reporters it was a timely reminder that Victoria, NSW and the ACT remained considered hotspots.
However, while the news may appear another blow for the state’s tourism operators, economist Nick Behrens from Queensland Economic Advocacy Solutions told ABC News that while cases remained active south of the border, it remains economically “prudent” to keep borders closed.
He told the national broadcaster that the economic hit from reintroducing restrictions in Queensland would be greater than the economic benefit of an open border for interstate tourists.
“The border really should be able to be open and shut on a fairly adaptive basis … [it] needs to be nimble, it needs to be able to open and close efficiently,” he said.
“Above all else, it needs to be effective when it is closed.
“It’s probably very prudent at the moment to have a closed border with both NSW and Victoria.”
However, Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind told ABC News the prospect of prolonged border closures had further dashed the hopes of operators.
“We hope that the other borders can be open a lot sooner than Christmas that’s for sure,” he said.
“We’re hopeful that the measures will be more targeted very soon, because it seems this virus will be around for some time.
“We have to really start living, to some extent, with the prospect of having cases here and there without shutting everything down.”
The news comes as the City of Sydney was today added to a NSW government list of COVID-19 hotspots.
Residents and anyone who has visited the region over the past 14 days have been told to get tested if they experience even mild symptoms of respiratory illness.
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