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Queensland state and international borders to open by Christmas

written by Hannah Dowling | October 18, 2021
Virgin Australia Boeing 737-8FE departs from Brisbane, at sunset. (Michael Marston)

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced that both the state’s domestic and international borders will reopen by Christmas – pending Queensland’s vaccination rates.

It will see the Sunshine State ease the hard border it has kept with both Victoria and NSW since the beginning of the east coast’s Delta strain outbreak for the first time in nearly four months.

Revealing her state’s roadmap out of ongoing border closures on Monday, Palaszczuk announced that Queensland’s tough border restrictions will be eased once the state reaches its 70 per cent double vaccination rate, which is expected by 19 November.

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At 70 per cent, fully vaccinated travellers will be allowed to enter Queensland from COVID-19 hotspots, including Sydney and Melbourne, by air only. They will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel and enter mandatory 14 days home quarantine.

Restrictions will be eased further once the state reaches its 80 per cent double vaccination target, which is expected to be reached by 17 December, and will eliminate the need to undergo quarantine.

From that date, fully vaccinated travellers from interstate hotspots can travel into Queensland by air or road without entering hotel or home quarantine, however, must provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel.

Meanwhile, from 17 December, double-jabbed Australian citizens and residents will once again be welcomed into Queensland from overseas, however will be required to quarantine at home. International travellers will also be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel.

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“That is good news for families to be reunited for Christmas,” Palaszczuk said.

While the 19 November benchmark could be brought forward, if Queensland achieves the 70 per cent target earlier than expected, Palaszczuk said the 17 December date for reopening of domestic and international borders is “locked in”.

Currently, 72.3 per cent of Queensland residents have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 56.6 per cent are fully vaccinated.

“If we keep getting vaccinated, we’ll be able to welcome family and friends from interstate hotspots in little over a month who are fully vaccinated,” Palaszczuk said.

“A month after that in December, they’ll be able to come without having to quarantine in time for Christmas, but they too, will need to be fully vaccinated.”

“The people coming into Queensland must be fully vaccinated.”

The news comes days after NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced that from 1 November, fully-vaccinated international arrivals into his state will no longer be required to complete any form of hotel or home quarantine, however testing requirements will be introduced.

Perrottet’s plan appears to be a slight deviation from the national plan announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this month, which specified a seven-day period of home quarantine for those returning to Australia.

The number of arrivals that are not yet fully vaccinated, and therefore need to enter 14-day hotel quarantine, will be capped to 210 people per week.

Perrottet also announced that regional travel between Greater Sydney and the rest of regional NSW will be allowed from 1 November.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that fully vaccinated citizens and residents will be able to leave the country freely and return without hotel quarantine in November.

The new requirements, which were set to kick in once states hit 80 per cent double-dose inoculation, notably specified that those arriving back in the country enter quarantine at home for seven days.

“It’s time to give Australians their lives back,” said Prime Minister Morrison. “Let’s get vaccinated and get on with it.”

Initially, the federal plan will apply to Australian citizens and permanent residents, with skilled migrants and international students coming in the next phase and tourists in the final phase, due for next year.

The federal government has said it will also soon announce a number of quarantine-free travel bubbles in the coming weeks, which will see the country able to welcome tourists for the first time in 18 months.

However, the Prime Minister has suggested, and later reiterated, that the government would not prioritise the mass return of international tourists until 2022.

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