Queensland and South Australia are both set to open their borders to Greater Melbourne ahead of the school holidays after Victoria on Tuesday recorded its sixth consecutive day with one or fewer local COVID cases.
Despite it being just 10 days since the state last reported an ‘unlinked’ case of community transmission, Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the Sunshine State will lift its border restrictions on greater Melbourne from 1am on Friday.
“That is great news for people there,” Premier Palaszczuk said, “I know there are a lot of people that would have had their holidays booked to Queensland.”
The news marks a quiet end to Queensland’s previous contentious policy that specified it would only ease border restrictions following 28 days of no unlinked cases via community transmission.
The 28-day policy previously caused strife between Premier Palaszczuk and her NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian, during Sydney’s second-wave of infections.
Victoria has seen just 10 days since its last unlinked case of community transmission, which health authorities believe likely occurred in a shared facility within a low-rise townhouse and apartment complex in the City of Melbourne.
Meanwhile, South Australia has also announced it will ease border restrictions on travellers from greater Melbourne from 12:01am on Friday, however will still require those travelling from the Victorian capital to undergo a COVID-19 test after entering SA and isolate until they receive a negative result.
Incoming visitors from greater Melbourne will also be restricted from attending “high-risk locations”, including aged-care facilities and Adelaide Oval, according to South Australia’s co-ordinator and Police Commissioner Grant Stevens.
“But beyond that, they’ll be able to move freely in the South Australian community,” he said.
Regional Victorians will not be subject to any restrictions in South Australia.
Additionally, both Tasmania and the Northern Territory lifted border restrictions with Victoria overnight, and New Zealand authorities have said the trans-Tasman travel bubble will resume with Victoria from 11:59pm Tuesday.
Elsewhere, NSW is preparing for greater border restrictions to potentially be imposed by other states, as it recorded 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in its Bondi cluster to 21.
As it stands, Sydneysiders looking to enter Victoria from the local government areas of Bayside, Canada Bay, Inner West, Randwick, City of Sydney, Waverly or Woollahra are required to obtain an ‘orange zone’ travel permit before entry.
Orange zone permit holders must isolate upon arrival in Victoria, get tested, and stay isolated until they receive a negative result. Permit checks are in place for relevant arriving flights at Victoria’s airports.
However, Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton hasn’t ruled out increasing Bondi, or the Waverley LGA, to a red zone, which would require travellers to quarantine for 14 days.
“I’ll have to review today and if we have to make it a red zone, I understand the difficulties in those declarations but if we have to do [that] to protect Victoria then I’ll make the call.”
Meanwhile, Queensland has re-introduced the use of its Border Pass Declaration, and travellers from Sydney’s Waverley council, or anyone who attended a known exposure site in NSW, are not allowed to enter Queensland without an exemption.
However, Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young hinted the state would consider closing its border to greater Sydney should case numbers continue to grow, and warned Queensland residents against travel to NSW.
“There have been more exposure venues in NSW so I reiterate that people should reconsider their need to go to greater Sydney,” Dr Young said.
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