The Queensland government has announced it will reopen its border to COVID-19 hotspots four days earlier than planned, on Monday 13 December.
From 1am on Monday, fully vaccinated travellers from interstate hotspots, including NSW and Victoria, can travel into Queensland by air or road without entering hotel or home quarantine, however, they must provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel.
Interstate arrivals from COVID hotspots must also complete a second test, on day five of their stay in Queensland.
Travellers who are not fully vaccinated will need to arrive at Queensland via air and undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine at their own expense.
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.
However, arrivals from overseas will also be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel and be required to quarantine at home for 14 days.
The decision was made as Queensland is on track to hit its 80 per cent vaccination target of people aged 16 and over in the coming days and has also nearly hit the 90 per cent first-dose milestone.
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.”
Also from Monday, Queenslanders living in border communities will be able to freely move over the border without undergoing multiple PCR tests, however they will need to apply for a border pass.
“You will need a border pass and the border pass will run for 14 days – but you will not need a test,” Palaszczuk said.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the border opening was “a massive milestone”, and authorities are currently preparing to see an influx of travellers coming across the border.
“We’re expecting a lot of people to be travelling into Queensland,” she said. “We are expecting extensive delays.”
Carroll asked travellers to be patient with authorities and warned that there would be fines of over $4,000 for people not complying with testing requirements.
It comes just after Queensland listed Greater Adelaide as a COVID-19 hotspot, in light of a small surge of COVID-19 cases in the South Australia capital, after the state reopened its own domestic borders to NSW and Victoria.
From 1am on Sunday, 5 December, all arrivals into the Sunshine State from Greater Adelaide must enter hotel quarantine. Arrivals must also present a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of arrival into Queensland.
Chief health officer Dr Peter Aitken said the decision followed the detection of multiple COVID-19 cases connected to a school reunion in Adelaide, and multiple high-risk exposure sites being linked to those cases.
“As borders across the country reopen, the number of COVID-19 cases will rise, similar to what we are seeing in South Australia,” Dr Aitken said.
“Those in Queensland who are not fully vaccinated ahead of the state’s border reopening are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.
“My message to those people is clear: get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect yourselves, your loved ones and the community.”
It follows a similar move by the Western Australia government, which last week again added increased border restrictions with South Australia, meaning fewer travellers will now be granted permission to enter the state.
As of 12:01am on Friday, WA upgraded South Australia’s border classification from “low risk” to “medium risk,” meaning travellers need an approved exemption in order to travel to the western state and will need to quarantine at home for 14 days.
All travellers with an approved exemption also need to be fully vaccinated, while all travellers aged 12 and over will also need to present proof of a negative COVID PCR test in the 72 hours prior to departure.
It comes after South Australia last week reopened its domestic borders with NSW, Victoria and the ACT, and subsequently saw a small spike in COVID-19 infections. WA had previously warned it might close its border to states that reopened to COVID hotspots, including South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland.
The news came just days after the Western Australia government first imposed quarantine requirements on all travellers from South Australia, after months of open borders.
In light of the border change, WA is now currently only allowing quarantine-free arrivals from Tasmania and Queensland, however Premier Mark McGowan has again stated that this could change, once both states similarly reopen their borders to NSW and Victoria.
“South Australia and shortly Queensland and Tasmania are going to open their borders,” he said.
“We’ve put in place measures with South Australia, if we have to with Queensland and Tasmania, we’ll do the same.”