Victoria, WA, SA and the NT have all effectively closed their border to Brisbane following the city’s snap lockdown – but NSW has introduced no new measures.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was following “the health advice rather than the advice of my political colleagues”.
It comes hours after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk revealed Greater Brisbane would go into a three-day lockdown from 5pm on Monday in response to four new locally acquired cases of COVID.
The decision is a huge blow for the domestic aviation industry, with the government’s plan to supplement half-price tickets to 13 destinations set to launch on 1 April.
The new rules are currently:
- Victoria has declared Greater Brisbane (City of Brisbane, City of Ipswich, Logan City, Moreton Bay Region, Redlands City) a “red zone” under Victoria’s travel permit system. That means non-residents are not allowed to enter Victoria without an exemption and residents must apply for a special permit. Those who return must self-quarantine for 14 days;
- WA reintroduced a hard border for travel from Queensland from midnight on Monday. Queensland has now moved from a low to high-risk area, meaning nobody, including residents, can enter without obtaining a permit;
- NSW has introduced no new rules. However, anyone who’s in NSW now but who has been in Greater Brisbane since 20 March must comply with Brisbane’s lockdown rules. Premier Berejiklian has recommended residents don’t travel to Greater Brisbane during the busy Easter period. “We recommend people who were considering going to Greater Brisbane: change your plans,” she said. “And also, consider changing your plans if you were travelling anywhere in Queensland because we understand there have been some cases or potential cases outside of Greater Brisbane and throughout broader Queensland.”;
- The Northern Territory has declared several regions hotspots with all travellers to the Territory from these areas required to go into supervised quarantine. Ipswich, Logan, Redlands, Moreton, Toowoomba and Brisbane council areas are now official hotspots;
- SA imposed a hard border from 4pm, meaning only SA residents can enter the state, and those that do must complete 14 days of quarantine;
- The ACT has said only non-residents with an exemption can enter. Residents who returned from greater Brisbane from 15 March need to self-isolate until at least 6:00pm on 1 April. This may be extended to 14 days.
Potential border closures will directly affect four of these destinations – Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays and Sunshine Coast – but are likely to have a ‘chilling effect’ on people booking to areas not affected.
Earlier on Monday, Premier Palaszczuk revealed Greater Brisbane would go into a three-day lockdown from 5pm on Monday in response to four new locally acquired cases of COVID.
She revealed the new instances were of the more transmissible ‘British variant’ of the virus. Masks will also now be mandatory.
“We need to do this now to avoid a longer lockdown,” said Premier Palaszczuk. “This will also enable our health authorities to get on top of the contact tracing.
“This is a huge job now that we have to do because we’ve got more of this community transmission.
“I know this will mean some disruption to people’s lives but we’ve done this before and we’ve got through it over those three days in the past and if everyone does the right thing, I’m sure that we will be able to get through it again.”
It comes weeks after both the Australian Airports Association (AAA) and Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ) industry groups said the half-price ticket plan would only work if state premiers kept borders open.
“Once the half-price airfares go on sale on 1 April, the first phase of the government’s vaccination program should be complete, which means there should be no reason for states and territories to close their borders,” said AAA chief executive James Goodwin. “In order for this support package to work, the premiers must agree to put an end to these knee-jerk reactions which have resulted in major setbacks for our sector’s recovery.”
A4ANZ chairman Graeme Samuel said the “lack of consistency” on borders had eroded confidence.
“The announcement of an incentive-based program to stimulate air travel demand and support the broader tourism sector will need to be matched by a unified approach on domestic borders,” said Samuel.