Queensland is set to open its borders to regional NSW but not Sydney on 3 November, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced.
The rules mean that those from the capital could potentially travel to Queensland but must first spend 14 days outside Greater Sydney. Bizarrely, travellers can also fly from Sydney Airport but must not stop anywhere in the city en route.
Premier Palaszczuk has then repeatedly stated that she will only open her state up to areas that have recorded 28 days without so-called community transmission – that is mysterious cases of COVID where no source of the infection can be traced.
Speaking on Friday, the day before Queensland’s election, Premier Palaszczuk said she was acting on the advice of her chief health officer Jeannette Young.
“Yesterday they had four new cases and one of those cases they could not link to any other known clusters,” Premier Palaszczuk said.
“Sydney is one city and people move around that city. That is why those 32 LGAs all need to be declared hot spots. Outside those 32 LGAs, there have not been any cases in the previous 28 days.
“I have said I will accept the advice of Dr Young, and that is exactly what I have done today.
“I have kept my commitment, I have been honest with the people of Queensland – that is what I said I would do and it is exactly what I have done, I have accepted her recommendations to me lock stock and barrel.”
The premier added she was still committed to the “aspiration” of a full reopening of borders by Christmas, as agreed by the country’s national cabinet of state leaders.
“Anything can happen but also there’s a strong possibility they could be open, because NSW is getting on top of these cases,” added Young in response.
“If we look at where NSW was not that long ago … and we look at where they are now, they are genuinely getting on top of those cases.”
On Saturday, Queensland will vote on a new government with polls highlighting a close-fought race between Labor’s Palaszczuk and her opposition rival Deb Frecklington.
Earlier this week, Former Labor Queensland premier Peter Beattie argued the state should open its border soon.
While Beattie was keen to insist he backed Queensland’s hard border previously, his intervention put pressure on Premier Palaszczuk to finally open to NSW.
“Queensland has to have an economy to grow,” Beattie told the Today program. “A lot of people are leaving Brisbane and going into the regions. That’s great. Same is happening in NSW. But there is a loss in the major cities and that’s largely where our population is.
“So, if Queensland wants to have a lot of people out of Sydney coming to put jobs in the Gold Coast, Cairns, Townsville, now is the time to change the strategy.
“This is not about Western Australia or Queensland. It is about Australia. We need a debate that says ‘Come on Australia, we have found out how to manage this’. The best way is by contact tracing. We have largely got the virus under control. Let’s talk about the future.”
Last week, Australian Aviation revealed that Queensland’s continued refusal to open its borders to Sydney caused the latter’s domestic passenger traffic to flatline in September after plunging 70 per cent the previous month.
In a statement to the ASX, Sydney Airport said it welcomed 98,000 passengers in September, up only slightly from 91,000 in August and down significantly from 276,000 in July.
Sydney Airport also revealed it welcomed 34,000 international passengers in September, down slightly from 39,000 in August.