NSW residents are expected to learn today whether they will be let into Queensland any time soon with a formal decision on the borders to be announced before lunchtime on Friday.
Just one day out from the Queensland election, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will reveal if the state’s harder border with New South Wales will be reopened from November 1.
Ms Palaszczuk has previously indicated she hoped the border closure could be eased from the start of November but has said the decision would be pushed back if health advice showed it wasn’t safe to go ahead.
Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young has routinely said the trigger to reopening to NSW was for the state to record no new unlinked cases of community transmission for 28 days.
However, the Courier Mail is reporting it’s most likely Dr Young will not open the border, instead expanding the border bubble zone in what would be a massive blow to the Queensland tourism industry and has sparked criticism from the Prime Minister.
“(My message to Annastacia Palaszczuk is) Make decisions on the basis of health advice and be transparent about it,” Scott Morrison told 2GB radio on Friday morning.
“It’s hard often to get a clear steer on what’s behind these decisions.
“Australia is opening up again, we’ve committed to having Australia fully open by Christmas and we need to move towards that.
“We can’t stay stuck in neutral. We’ve got to get going again.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will announce before lunchtime on Friday whether the NSW border will reopen from November 1. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan PeledSource:News Corp Australia
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said “there’s a range of things” the CHO looks at in addition to that, including the rate of sewerage testing, the rate of COVID-19 testing, and where the cases are.
NSW recorded four new local cases on Thursday before issuing a public health alert for an F45 gym in southwest Sydney after a positive case visited the gym 13 times between October 15 and 28.
A decision to delay the reopening of the Queensland/ NSW border would be a massive blow for the sunshine state’s tourism economy. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Steve HollandSource:News Corp Australia
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has said as recently as Wednesday her Queensland counterpart needed to stop playing politics and open the border, even suggesting the Opposition Leader would have opened them “months ago”.
Ms Berejiklian said she was becoming increasingly frustrated by being “lumped in” with Victoria when it comes to Queensland‘s perception of her state’s COVID-19 risk.
“You can’t compare NSW to what Victoria’s been through. That’s why the Queensland (border) completely lacks ration, it doesn’t make sense. There is no reason why the Queensland border is there,” she said on Wednesday.
“I don’t think anywhere on the planet would be able to meet the 28-day benchmark (Queensland) gave us which I’ve never heard of.”
Queenslanders and NSW residents alike are awaiting news on the border decision. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Steve HollandSource:News Corp Australia
Any decision to delay the border reopening would cause heartache for thousands of Sydney families hoping for a warm summer holiday, who rushed to book flights and hotels in anticipation of the announcement.
It would also cost Queensland tourism businesses hundreds of seasonal jobs, with Village Roadshow Theme Parks, which owns Movie World and Wet N Wild, revealing more than 500 positions depend on the decision.
On Thursday, Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles gave the biggest hint yet that the borders would indeed open from November 1, when he said there was a “fine line” in balancing the easing of restrictions around the state, including at hospitality venues, and easing restrictions at the border.
He said there would be no further easing of restrictions in hospitality anytime soon, instead saying the factor was “as close to normal as anywhere else in the world”.
“We’ve already substantially eased restrictions on our hospitality sector,” Mr Miles said on Thursday.
“There’s no intention to ease those any further.”
It comes after The Courier Mail revealed hundreds of NSW residents had pre-emptively booked flights to the Sunshine State from as early as Sunday.
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