A Qantas Boeing 737-838, VH-VZI, received a water cannon salute when it landed on the Gold Coast from Sydney minutes before the Queensland border opened at midday.
From today, citizens from all states bar Victoria can now freely enter but must sign a border declaration promising to undertake a coronavirus test if they develop symptoms.
Virgin immediately responded by launching a sale offering $85 tickets to the state.
It came as Victoria recorded 288 new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours to Friday, marking the biggest increase since the pandemic began. However, that number coincided with a record 37,600 tests conducted.
Talking to ABC News Breakfast on Friday morning, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said, “Please, Victoria be patient and your day will come when you will be allowed to come back here.
A water cannon salute for the first Qantas flight from Sydney touching down on the Gold Coast just minutes after the Queensland border reopens @9NewsGoldCoast @9NewsQueensland pic.twitter.com/qL01bpwRqB
— Mackenzie Colahan (@maccolahan9) July 10, 2020
“We know how much you love Queensland and I know there is a lot of families that are going to be separated during this time as well. It is going to be very difficult.”
She added that she made “absolutely no apology” for keeping her borders closed and keeping her citizens safe.
“It is front and centre of my mind, every single day and every single night and don’t think for a moment I don’t wake up, early hours of the morning, thinking about Queenslanders and the decisions that myself and the chief health officer are making,” Premier Palaszczuk.
“These are very big decisions that we have never had to make in our lifetime and it is about protecting Queenslanders.”
Virgin Australia on Friday morning announced it was to offer more than half a million fares from just $85 to Queensland.
The deal included Sydney to Gold Coast from $85; and Sydney to Brisbane and Brisbane to Newcastle from $89.
Other destinations in the sale, which will run until Tuesday, include Hamilton Island and Townsville.
Previously, Queensland had steadfastly refused to open its borders to any state, with Premier Palaszczuk at one point hinting it wouldn’t open until September.
The decision sparked a war of words between Premier Palaszczuk and her NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian, before Prime Minister Scott Morrison became involved.
Premier Berejiklian called the September open date “ridiculous” before Premier Palaszczuk responded that she would not be “lectured to” on the issue.
It culminated in the Prime Minister appearing on a number of breakfast shows in May and repeatedly declaring that border closures were never “the medical advice”, or agreed by the national cabinet.
Victoria is now, however, all but closed off to every other state.