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Updated: Borders close to Brisbane but NSW and Vic hold out

written by Adam Thorn | January 8, 2021
Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800
A Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 departs Brisbane Airport in 2019 (Craig Murray)

Updated 16:30 on 8 January

Tasmania, SA, WA and the Northern Territory have all effectively closed their borders to Brisbane following the city re-entering lockdown.

However, both NSW and Victoria have refused to follow and instead have asked all of those who have already crossed over to get tested and isolated for three days.

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The Friday afternoon developments come after the national cabinet classified Brisbane as the first ‘Commonwealth hotspot’ at midday. The escalation comes after a hotel quarantine cleaner tested positive for the new UK variant of COVID, which is said to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible.

Both NSW and Victoria have asked those who have recently entered their respective states to follow the guidance of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and isolate for three days.

“At no point during this pandemic have we ever had a kneejerk reaction or treated the border like a light switch,” acting NSW Premier John Barilaro said.

Other states, however, have enforced far more stringent restrictions.

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Tasmania and SA have asked all those who cross the border to self-isolate for 14 days, but WA will reinstate its hard border, stopping anyone from entering, from midnight on Friday.

The Northern Territory, meanwhile, will allow people to enter but those who do so will have to go into mandatory hotel quarantine.

Acting Chief Minister Nicole Manison on Thursday said, “Unfortunately what we have seen again is we have had two flights that will be impacted by this declaration and one that already has been. We have had two flights that are due to land very soon from Brisbane.

“For those people who are on those returning flights, in this instance, they will not have to pay the $2,500 quarantine fee, or they will be given the option to return to Brisbane immediately and we will also fund those flights to return.”

Earlier, Premier Palaszczuk said her “unprecedented” move to lock down Brisbane was in response to the “incredibly infectious” strain discovered on Thursday in a female hotel quarantine cleaner who lives in the south suburb of Algester. She added that she hoped a three-day lockdown could prevent a 30-day one.

So far, 79 close contacts have been identified from the women and the new restrictions will see “everything on hold” until 6pm Monday.

State Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said, “I’m really concerned that if we were to have cases from this very, very contagious, infectious virus, that we wouldn’t be able to get on top of it.

“Have a weekend with your family in your own home.”

Masks are also now mandatory in Brisbane and surrounding council areas for the three days of lockdown.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted that the lockdown was a “wise call” by Premier Palaszczuk that would “buy much needed time”.

In December, all states and territories stopped movement of those who had passed through Sydney, when the city saw an outbreak in the Northern Beaches area.

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