Queensland will finally open its border to Sydney, and likely Victoria, on 1 December.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the announcement after the NSW capital reached 28 days without an untraceable case of COVID – a milestone Victoria could hit tomorrow.
“We know how tough this has been on families,” said Premier Palaszczuk. “This is a great day, it’s exciting news and it has met the requirements that [chief health officer] Dr Young has set.”
Premier Palaszczuk has repeatedly stated that she would only open her state up to areas that have recorded a month without so-called community transmission – that is cases of COVID where no source of the infection can be traced.
Those rules meant Queensland opened up to NSW on 10 July but closed to Sydney on 1 August and then to all of NSW and the ACT again a week later. Despite opening for a second time to the ACT on 25 September and NSW on 20 October, the city of Sydney was excluded.
The bizarre restrictions meant those from Sydney could potentially travel to Queensland but had to first spend 14 days outside the city. Travellers could also fly from Sydney Airport but couldn’t stop anywhere in the city en route.
Premier Palaszczuk said the decision was made after “extensive conversations” between her chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young, and NSW’s counterpart.
“Dr Young is now satisfied that they have reached the 28 days. So, can I say to New South Wales, we will welcome you to Queensland from December 1,” she said.
“I have advised the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews that if they reach that 28 days tomorrow then they too will be open on December 1.”
Queensland’s Deputy Premier, Steven Miles, called the announcement “a great day for Australia”.
The state still remains closed to SA, after its second smaller outbreak last week that saw the state enter a six-day ‘hard lockdown’.
“South Australia — we’re still waiting to see how their outbreak unfolds — it’s been really good so far, they’ve had only small numbers … we just have to see what happens in that first incubation period,” said Dr Young.
The news comes after NSW’s Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Premier Palaszczuk have been involved in a six-month long public argument over the closure.
However, on Tuesday, Premier Palaszczuk indicated tensions have thawed, saying, “It is wonderful to be back in communication with the NSW premier.
“Now is the time, if you live in NSW, come to Queensland, start planning that holiday. We would love to have your business. It means jobs for Queenslanders. And as you know, Queensland, beautiful one day, perfect the next.”
Last month, 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.