The Queensland government has announced a two-week pause on its hotel quarantine system for interstate arrivals, due to overwhelming demand.
From 12pm on Wednesday, the state government will tighten the rules that allow people to cross the border in Queensland, in order to ease the pressure on its “overwhelmed” hotel quarantine system.
Instead, interstate arrivals will be required to both secure an exemption and book a spot in the hotel quarantine system before they travel to the border.
Anyone with an existing border pass will now be required to reapply, if they intend to cross the border after 12pm Wednesday.
“Anyone who’s not already on a flight at midday will not be able to arrive simply on a right of entry pass,” said Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath.
“Everyone who’s a Queensland resident, or seeking to relocate, will need to reapply for their pass.”
State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the move will essentially mean people can not permanently relocate from other states into Queensland over the next two weeks.
However, the state will still offer exemptions on the grounds of compassionate or medical reasons, and allow those people to quarantine on arrival.
According to Premier Palaszczuk, Queensland provided 2,752 border passes to people travelling from interstate in the two weeks from 9 August to 20 August.
“We are really concerned about the pressure the hotel quarantine system is putting on our resources,” she said.
”We are scrambling for hotels. This has got to stop. It’s too much pressure so we have to put on a pause. We simply just do not have any room at the moment.”
The state government suggested too many people are looking to permanently move to Queensland from COVID hotspots in NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
“While we have allowed genuine relocations for work and other purposes, it has overwhelmed our hotels and it has to be stopped for at least the next fortnight,” Premier Palaszczuk said.
“Queensland is being loved to death.”
“I want people to come home,” she added. “If people want to relocate here, I want them to relocate here but we just have to do it in a sensible and orderly fashion.”
Currently, there are 5,114 people being quarantined across 22 Queensland hotels, 3,257 of which are interstate arrivals, while 1,857 have come from overseas.
It’s the highest number of people Queensland has seen in quarantine since the system began.
It comes as Queensland recorded no new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, following a false alarm over two truck drivers who crossed the border from NSW.
Chief health officer Jeannette Young said subsequent COVID testing of the truck drivers found they were not positive cases, however they will continue to be tested every seven days under a new surveillance program for truck drivers throughout Australia.