How virus loophole could burst bubble
A loop hole that is letting coronavirus hot-spotters interact with Gold Coasters is putting the border bubble at risk of popping.
The Tweed-Coolangatta border bubble, which came into effect on Saturday morning, allows for Gold Coasters and those in the Tweed shire to interact freely, after successfully applying for a border pass.
Gold Coasters can't travel outside of the Tweed Shire, while those from the Tweed can't go further north than Ormeau. If they do they have to go into a forced 14-day quarantine.
But, there is nothing stopping people from outside of the bubble in New South Wales travelling into the Tweed and meeting up with those who are crossing over into the Gold Coast - or who have crossed over from the Gold Coast into the Tweed.
The declaration does ask whether you have interacted with someone with coronavirus in the past 14 days, although the risk of being in contact with someone who is asymptomatic, or with someone who does not know they've got coronavirus is possible.
On Monday New South Wales recorded another 14 coronavirus cases - all were considered community transmission except for one of those cases in hotel quarantine. Queensland only recorded the one, a returned overseas traveller.
Dr Jeannette Young said while the 'bubble' program was currently in place, those who crossed the border daily should be ready for more disruption as the risk of COVID-19 spread in the area remained high.
"At the border, this is the really difficult part for Queensland," Dr Young said.
"The border is difficult because people from New South Wales can travel into those NSW border areas and they can then pass on the infection to people who can then cross the border into Queensland.
"That is really difficult. So it is really important all those people who live along our border think what is the next step.
"If we had to close the border to everyone in NSW, (then) no exemptions for people in those border zones who work or go to school in Queensland. If we have to close, then what will people do?"
Police turned back 254 people at Gold Coast border checkpoints in the 24 hours to 4pm on Monday.
It's understood New South Wales Police have not been asked to keep an eye on Queenslanders inside the bubble and with no travel restrictions inside the southern state, they're not watching who's coming into the shire.
Tweed/Byron Police District Superintendent Dave Roptell said they had an open communication line with Queensland Police about the border.
"If there are any issues we're facing impacting us due to the border closure, I work with my Queensland counterpart to work through them and it has been working pretty well," he said.
Queensland Police sources questioned the strength of the bubble.
"If it's to work, there needs to be some measure in place that guarantees locals are not in contact with people from places like Sydney where it's out of control," the source said.
"It's a tough one, but it appears to be the best scenario at the moment for a tough situation, unless of course New South Wales starts restricting travel in their own state, that might make it a bit safer."
Dr Young said she was aware of some families who had swapped homes to be either side of the border close to work, and encouraged others to make contingency plans should the border have to tighten further.
"I think every single person who lives in any of those border communities in either Queensland or NSW needs to think what will I do, what will my family do if the border closes because there are cases spreading north from Sydney," she said.
Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said the future of the bubble was in the hands of those living in it.
"The actions of a few could impact many people that could be by spreading Covid or increasing restrictions, by their actions," he said.
"People have got to be across the messaging going out and be patient, if something changes, or a computer system changes, they need to understand, this is a pandemic, these things take time."
He said traffic was flowing relatively well on Monday.
"There were people living outside of the border zone, who thought they may have been eligible or thought they may have been given some leniency, but they weren't.
"The traffic delays weren't bad, 30 minutes at the M1, which in the context of things, isn't too bad and Griffith St, was relatively quiet."
Originally published as How virus loophole could burst bubble