NSW-Qld hard border possible, next 48 hours critical

 

The reinstatement of a hard border between Queensland and NSW is a possibility, with authorities saying the next 24 to 48 hours would determine that decision.

It comes after NSW recorded 30 new cases of coronavirus in the 24 hours to 8pm Saturday - 28 of which were directly linked to the Avalon cluster. That cluster is now 66 cases and the southern state has brought in tougher restrictions.

Queensland has since banned residents from greater Sydney from entering Queensland, effective from 1am Monday

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announces the new restrictions for NSW residents and addresses questions over the border. Picture Steve Pohlner
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announces the new restrictions for NSW residents and addresses questions over the border. Picture Steve Pohlner

When questioned on the possibility of Queensland reinstalling a hard border, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there were check points at the border at this stage but that may change within days.

"There will be checkpoints - police will be there randomly intercepting with the view of putting in place harder border closure measures depending on what happens in the next 24 to 48 hours in Sydney," she said.

She and Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young reinstated Queensland would be looking very closely at what happens in NSW over that timeframe.

Following Ms Palaszczuk's decision to ban residents from greater Sydney from entering Queensland, Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said there would be increased check points at road borders.

He warned anyone trying to slip through into Queensland would find the check points.

He said 2700 fines had already been issued since tougher restrictions were brought in on Saturday.

He said people in home quarantine will be closely monitored as part of the blitz.

He also warned drivers to expect delays at the Queensland border and suggested people "plan ahead and not travel unless absolutely necessary" over the border.

Gold Coast police earlier said they were ready to barricade the border within 24 hours if the State Government gives the order as the NSW pre-Christmas COVID-19 crisis deepens.

Western Australia had already put up its hard border again, banning anyone coming from NSW. That came into effect Saturday night.

Speaking at Coolangatta Airport about the border on Sunday morning, Gold Coast police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said his officers were on standby to return to checkpoint duty just three weeks after the blockades were dismantled.

"We've given the Government an assurance that in a 24-hour period, we can reinstitute border controls," he said.

"It would be scaled up. We are in a position to do that and those plans have been in place for some time.

"We are already ready. Everyone would understand that this is a rapidly evolving situation and we have to prepare for all contingencies."

Border passes were reintroduced before Sunday's update and hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders are being urged to get tested for coronavirus as an unfolding COVID-19 crisis threatens to wreck Christmas.

Queensland recorded two new cases of COVID-19 overnight, with both cases being detected in hotel quarantine after being acquired overseas. Eleven active cases remain in the state today.

EARLIER: Race to border as uncertainty grows

The Palaszczuk government introduced tough new restrictions on Saturday amid revelations 11 people linked to the worsening Sydney outbreak are now in Queensland. That figure was updated to 15 people on Sunday.

Queensland’s Health Minister Yvette D’ath and Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young. Picture: David Clark.
Queensland’s Health Minister Yvette D’ath and Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young. Picture: David Clark.

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath also urged people living on the Gold Coast, Townsville, north Cairns and Cleveland to get tested after sewage sampling revealed traces of the deadly disease.

As fears grew of a second wave hitting Queensland in the lead-up to Christmas, international flight crews were ordered into government-run hotel quarantine and Gold Coast police began a border blitz on NSW vehicles.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday ordered a five-day lockdown of the Northern Beaches after 23 new cases linked to the cluster, before Sunday's announcement of further restrictions.

Ms Berejiklian said she expected the cases to continue to increase and urged wider Sydney to "abandon non-essential activities".

In response, the Palaszczuk government reintroduced border passes for anyone from NSW and warned Queenslanders against venturing south of the Tweed River.

Ms D'Ath said checkpoints were not being reinstalled at this stage in a move welcomed by the COVID-battered tourism industry.

But she said anyone travelling to Queensland from NSW would need a border pass from 1am today and Sydney and NSW Central Coast residents were also being urged to have a COVID test.

Border declaration passes were only scrapped on December 1 when the state line reopened but have now been reintroduced, including for Queenslanders returning from NSW.

She said Sydney Northern Beaches residents would be banned from entering Queensland unless granted an exemption, which will require them to go into hotel quarantine.

Queenslanders returning from the declared COVID hotspot will also have to go into quarantine.

"The message is very clear; if you're from the Northern Beaches … do not travel to Queensland," Ms D'Ath said.

"All people coming from NSW from 1am tomorrow (Sunday) will need a border pass declaration. This is about making sure we keep all Queenslanders safe while people travel around for the Christmas holidays."

Yesterday full flights from Sydney arrived in Brisbane, with many relieved to escape Sydney for a quiet Christmas.

Suzy Reis with her son Zaidan after landing in Brisbane. Picture: Richard Gosling
Suzy Reis with her son Zaidan after landing in Brisbane. Picture: Richard Gosling

Suzy Reis and her child Zaidan were all smiles to land in Queensland, while Sally Wooding made it back to spend Christmas with her terminally ill father.

Ms D'Ath also warned Queenslanders not to travel to NSW, warning they "may find themselves stuck" if the border was slammed shut.

"We're keeping a very close watch on other areas of NSW, particularly Greater Sydney and the (central) coastal area, to see what happens there," she said.

Ms D'Ath said 11 people linked who had close contact with positive COVID cases had been traced by Queensland Health, tested and gone into self-quarantine.

She said 3640 passengers from Sydney had been screened after arriving in Queensland in the past two days, with 174 identified as from the Northern Beaches and now in quarantine.

"I want to acknowledge all of the people who have gone into self-quarantine or hotel quarantine in the last few days," she said. "We know this is a special time to spend with family. We know that everyone who has gone into quarantine over the last two days, at our request, are going to miss time with family on Christmas Day. We want to thank you for what you are doing. Because by you complying with your quarantine, you are helping keep five million Queenslanders safe."

Queensland police on patrol at Brisbane airport following a resurgence in COVID restrictions. Picture: Richard Gosling
Queensland police on patrol at Brisbane airport following a resurgence in COVID restrictions. Picture: Richard Gosling

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said international flight crews would be placed in government-run hotel quarantine from this week because of rising cases of COVID among staff.

She said crews would also be asked to have a COVID test every seven days.

Worried Gold Coasters rushed to get tests yesterday after the discovery of the virus in the city's sewerage system.

"I'm worried, but I think if we do the right thing, we should be fine," Robina's Simon Lee said as he waited for a test at the Gold Coast University Hospital clinic.

Ms D'Ath called on residents in affected areas to get tested "just so we can be assured that there aren't active cases in our community".

Gold Coast police have begun pulling over NSW-registered cars at the border, with more than 200 NSW vehicles pulled over at the border by Sunday 10.30am to check that occupants are not from the Sydney northern beaches COVID-19 hotspot.

Officers are using automatic licence plate recognition technology to detect suspect travellers and avoid stopping every NSW-registered vehicle.

"Anyone entering from the northern beaches local government area will be turned around at the border," Gold Coast police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said.

Supt Wheeler said the interceptions were the only way of keeping people from the hotspot out of Queensland without a hard border closure.

Sydney is facing a return to life under restrictions with repeated visits by a confirmed case at a popular Avalon gym now sparking NSW Health warnings for new locations in the inner city, the inner west, and the mid north coast as well as on the northern beaches.

NSW Health has revised its COVID warnings for several hundred people and backdated some of its testing and isolation advice for patrons of Anytime Fitness on Avalon Parade to November 23 as residents in the northern beaches were placed in to an emergency four-day lockdown to contain a rapidly ballooning COVID outbreak.

STATE OF OUR BORDERS

Queensland's reintroduction of border passes on Saturday and ban on people in the greater Sydney area on Sunday, came as Victoria tightened its border with New South Wales, extending the 'orange zone' to NSW's Central Coast. But on Sunday the Victorian Premier announced their border would close to greater Sydney and the Central Coast from 11.59pm Sunday.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the Victorian government was not confident the situation in NSW remained safe, with the Berejiklian government refusing to impose mandatory mask rules and stay-at-home orders across Sydney.

All of Greater Sydney and the Central Coast will be declared a "red zone", while the Northern Beaches will be deemed a "hot zone".

Nobody from or who has visited those parts of Sydney will be allowed to travel to any part of Victoria.

Western Australia has put up its hard border again, banning anyone coming from NSW.

The hard border came into effect Saturday night.

South Australia responded by saying anyone who has visited "high community transmission zones" in Sydney's Northern Beaches Council area stretching from Manly to Palm Beach, as well as lower north shore harbourside suburb Lavender Bay and Penrith in the western suburbs, since December 11 must quarantine for a fortnight but the border remains open to NSW.

The Northern Territory has declared the Northern Beaches local government area a hotspot.

Anyone planning to come have been advised to cancel their travel. Those who have been in the Northern Beaches in the 14 days before they arrive must enter supervised quarantine, in either Alice Springs or Darwin, and pay $2,500 per person.

Tasmania has also declared the Northern Beaches local government area a hotspot. people from this area are not permitted to enter Tasmania.


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