Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk dealt an enormous blow to interstate travel by advising her citizens not to visit NSW.
She also doubled-down on her comments yesterday suggesting she could formally close the border if COVID-19 outbreaks in Sydney escalate.
“People of Queensland have been stopping me, they have been telling me they support our stance when it comes to the borders,” Premier Palaszczuk said on Tuesday. “If we have to take even stronger measures we will take stronger measures.”
Queensland only opened its border to NSW on 10 July but, shortly after, effectively banned people from entering the state if they had passed through selected “hotspot” areas, including the western Sydney City of Fairfield, Campbelltown and Liverpool.
On Tuesday, however, Premier Palaszczuk went one step further and advised all Queenslanders not to fly the other way.
“I would advise Queenslanders at the moment to not travel to New South Wales,” she said.
“We have a hard border closure with Victoria, we have three declared hotspots with New South Wales and if there are further outbreaks we will not hesitate to take action.”
The words will likely be greeted with dismay by Qantas and Virgin Australia, with both businesses betting big on winter tourism.
In June for instance, Jetstar sale tickets, including those between Sydney and the Gold Coast, were selling at a rate of 220 per minute, nearly 40 times higher than the normal rate of bookings.
In total, 10,000 Jetstar $19 tickets sold out in just four hours. Panicked customers will now be in two minds whether to fly, and what rights they will have to cancel or get their money back for flights or accommodation.
So far, Premier Palaszczuk’s words are believed to be just advice.
The comments are surprising given that NSW appears to have its recent ‘clusters’ under control. The state reported just 14 new cases on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison praising the work of Sydney’s contact tracers.
“There are some concerning outbreaks in New South Wales but they’re getting on top of them extremely quickly,” PM Morrison said. “They’re able to keep their economy open and they’re able to get on top of an outbreak and it is in Australia’s national interests that they be successful.
“It’s important that they can demonstrate that success as we right the situation in Victoria.”
On Monday, Premier Palaszczuk said she would not hesitate to “slam the borders shut” to NSW if COVID-19 resurges there.
“If the chief health officer gives me advice for a hard border closure with NSW, we will not hesitate to do that,” Premier Palaszczuk said. “Every single day we are monitoring what is happening in NSW.”