Qld relents on tough border medical care restrictions
Queensland's border restrictions will be relaxed to make it easier for people living in interstate hot spots to enter the state for medical care.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed the decision after leaders met in National Cabinet this morning.
Mr Morrison said state and territory leaders made "further progress" on streamlining the patchwork of border rules across the country and highlighted the Palaszczuk Government's decision to help sick people cross the border for medical care.
"I welcome the decisions by the Queensland Government made as we went into this meeting and overnight which has eased restrictions for accessing health services for people who are coming out of hot spots and also expanding the border zones and additional post code areas," he said.
Mr Morrison did not provide further detail how the new regulations would work.
He also revealed the national medical expert panel would attempt to create a uniform definition of what a COVID hot spot was to give more clarity to border decisions.
"When you have restrictions that are being placed on people's movement in the country based on what is and what is not a hot spot there needs to be a clear medical and scientific definition of what that is," he said.
"These decisions cannot be made on an arbitrary basis and I'm not suggesting they are, I'm just saying and it was agreed today that we are going to ask once again … to get a clear definition of what constitutes a hot spot."
Earlier, Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington described the 'heartbreaking' scenario of newborn babies being separated from their parents as the border controversy rages on.
It comes as Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young reinforced the border stance, by warning it would be a "very big concern" for health officials if the virus was to reach the Tweed.
Ever-changing border restrictions and permits have caused mass frustration around the Gold Coast and other border communities, including cases where NSW-based parents of newborn babies have struggled to gain exemptions to visit their children in Queensland hospitals.
On the Gold Coast to announce the construction of a $30 million multi-story car park at Helensvale's train and tram transport hub, Ms Frecklington said the situation was tearing people's lives apart.
"When I hear the dreadful stories about mums who have to be separated from their newborns, it just breaks my heart," she said.
"What we need is some compassion.
"We have to make sure people's lives and livelihoods can continue."
She said she 'would listen to the medical advice', but would seek greater flexibility for people to cross the border on medical or business grounds such as agriculture.
She today said she was very concerned about people leaving Sydney, where there are still a number of coronavirus cases, to travel north.
Dr Young said it was good to see the NSW government "looking at their risks in Tweed", but pointed out there was no restriction in NSW for people to move into northern NSW.
"I'm concerned about the amount of movement out of Sydney into northern NSW," she said.
"That definitely concerns me.
"I know that were the virus to get out into the Tweed area, that would be a very big concern for us in Queensland."
Dr Young also said it was "clear" that NSW health officials were getting on top of their outbreaks, which she described as "really reassuring".
"But they're still having those cases that they don't know where they came from, so that is a concern and it means that there is still a risk," she said.
Dr Young has previously urged residents in border communities to be prepared, in case there was a firm border closure with NSW.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Steven Miles has hit out at federal Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton's comments on the borders, inviting the Queensland MP to walk through the community with him to ask Queenslanders their views.
It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison was expected to push for clearer guidelines on border closures at today's National Cabinet meeting.