Virgin Australia recorded the largest day of sales since COVID, after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her state would open to Sydney on 1 December.
The business added that more than 60 per cent of flights booked were for travel in the lead up to and during Christmas, with searches for routes between NSW and Queensland doubling.
Yesterday, Premier Palaszczuk said she would lower entry restrictions to Sydney after it recorded 28 days without so-called community transmission – that is cases of COVID where no source of the infection can be traced.
The decision was extended to Victoria as a whole on Wednesday when it reached a similar milestone.
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“This is just such fantastic news,” Premier Palaszczuk told ABC News Breakfast. “So it means on 1 December, Victorians can also come to Queensland and, of course, Queenslanders can go to Victoria as well.”
The state coincidently discharged its last COVID case from hospital on Monday night – a 90-year-old man – meaning Victoria is now effectively free of the virus.
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.
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.
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.