Queensland has reopened to all interstate arrivals after the state last week hit its 80 per cent double vaccinated milestone.
However, visitors from what it deems COVID hotspots, including NSW, Victoria and Greater Adelaide, must take a PCR test both before they arrive, and afterwards on day five of their stay.
The first new quarantine-free flight to arrive in Brisbane was a Qantas 737-838, VH-VZZ msn 39445, which departed Sydney at 7:05am as flight QF504 and landed at 7:11am local time. It narrowly beat a rival Virgin 737, VH-YIV, flying the same route by eight minutes, despite taking off five minutes later.
Meanwhile, the first quarantine-free flight to land in the Gold Coast was a Jetstar A320-232, VH-VFH msn 5211, which departed Sydney at 6:19am as flight JQ400 and landed at 6:16am local time.
Today’s opening came four days earlier than planned but doesn’t apply to unvaccinated citizens who will still need to undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Previously, the state had planned to ease its border restrictions with hotspots on 17 December, however, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in light of Queensland’s strong vaccination rates, the government has decided to push this date forward.
“Never did I think that we would be in such a good position,” Palaszczuk said of Queensland’s vaccination rates. “I could not be more proud.”
Queenslanders living in border communities will be able to freely move over the border without undergoing multiple PCR tests, but they will need to apply for a border pass.
“We know that it has been extremely difficult for our border communities and we’re hoping to provide some greater flexibility and freedom of movement for those communities,” Palaszczuk said.
Virgin Australia said flight searches on its website increased by almost 120 per cent last Monday afternoon, following the border reopening announcement.
The airline also today launched what it called “one of its largest statewide sales” with more than one million seats from just $59 one-way, to multiple destinations across the Sunshine State. It includes prices from Sydney to Gold Coast from $59.
Also from 13 December, double-jabbed Australian citizens and residents will once again be welcomed directly into Queensland from overseas, with no cap on the number of arrivals.
Arrivals, though, will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel and quarantine at home for 14 days.