Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has vowed to keep her border shut to NSW for at least another month after she comfortably won Saturday’s election.
It comes despite Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce releasing a statement on the day before the vote arguing the continued closure “makes no sense” and is “ridiculous”.
Queensland opened up to NSW on 10 July but closed again to Sydney on 1 August and then to all of NSW and the ACT a week later. The state announced on Friday it was to open up to regional areas of NSW but those from Greater Sydney would remain banned.
Premier Palaszczuk has 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 after her victory where she is predicted to increase her majority, she said she had been “entirely consistent” on her policy and pledged to do whatever her chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, advised. She said she would next examine the closure at the end of the month.
“What’s happening around the world is they’re going into lockdown,” she said, seemingly referring to the news the UK would go into a second shutdown for a month.
“When you go into lockdown there is no economy. We are the envy of the world at the moment and I want it to remain that way.”
On Friday, Qantas’ chief executive blasted Queensland’s decision to open to regional NSW but not Sydney.
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.
“Frankly, this is ridiculous,” Joyce said.
“Sydney is the biggest city in Australia and it probably has one of the best track records globally of managing a virus that is clearly going to be with us for a very long time.
“Keeping the doors bolted to places that you can’t reasonably call hot spots makes no sense from a health perspective and it’s doing a lot of social and economic damage as well.
“Compare this to the far more rational approach of Tasmania, Northern Territory and South Australia.
“Queensland may find that by the time it does open up to Sydney, people have made other plans.”
Meanwhile, WA Premier Mark McGowan surprisingly announced the same day his state will drop its entry restrictions and replace them with what he’s termed a “controlled border”.
From 14 November, people will be able to enter WA without quarantine from areas that have had no community transmission in 28 days, which currently includes Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, ACT and the Northern Territory.
Those from states with a rolling average of less than five, which includes NSW and Victoria, will be asked to quarantine at a “suitable premise” for 14 days and take a COVID test on day 11.