Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this morning announced her state will close its borders to people from both NSW and the ACT from 1am Saturday 8 August.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer has declared all of NSW and the ACT as “hotspots”, despite the ACT currently having no active cases of COVID-19 and having not recorded a new case in over three weeks.
“Victoria hasn’t improved as we hoped and I won’t wait for NSW to get any worse,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“I will not risk our state’s economic recovery by allowing COVID to spread. I will do everything I can to protect Queenslanders and the economy.”
A Queensland Government spokesperson told Canberra Weekly they’ve had to “regrettably” close their border to the ACT due to a handful of NSW residents using Canberra Airport to circumvent the existing travel restrictions on Greater Sydney.
“We do this sadly as we know ACT has been doing a great job; the problem is the proximity to NSW,” they said.
“We’ve had people come out of NSW via Canberra to get around the restrictions we had.
“We’ve said Greater Sydney is a hotspot, people travelled to Canberra jumped on a plane and when they land we’ve said, ‘have you been in a hotspot’, and they’ve lied.”
“Around (Canberra) there are people who live in NSW and can cross the border six times a day, that’s the problem.”
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said today’s announcement came without notice.
“Their reasoning is that some NSW residents from hotspot areas have been flying through Canberra Airport,” he said.
“I’m not sure there is evidence to support that but I’m happy to see it if it is the case and we could endeavour to address that specific question.”
The spokesperson said the move to close the border is a proactive measure taken to protect the Queensland economy, which is currently operating “closer to normal than not”.
“We’ve seen what’s happened in Victoria, all it takes is a handful.
“In NSW, even though they’re doing a much better job staying on top of it, we’re not going to wait for NSW to get worse, we have to act now and sadly that includes the ACT.”
Only residents of border communities and essential workers, such as truck drivers, will be able to cross the border.
Exemptions – including for compassionate reasons – will be limited and will require evidence to be provided either at the airport or border.
“You say you’ve been in a non-COVID hotspot for last two weeks, we ask for proof … We’re not mucking around,” the spokesperson said.
“They’ll be checking people’s phones and asking for receipts.”