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Drastic new steps announced to harden border

VICTORIANS will be barred from entering Queensland through the Gold Coast under harsh new restrictions announced this morning.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was strengthening the restrictions on visitors from the southern state as the COVID crisis worsens.

Gold Coast Health has also been asked by the State Government to set up new pop-up clinics to test travellers with symptoms of coronavirus.

Speaking at a press conference following Ms Palaszczuk's announcement, Deputy Premier and Health and Ambulance Services Minister Steven Miles said very few exemptions will be allowed to the tough new rules.

Police speak to drivers at the Qld-NSW border at Coolangatta. Picture: Adam Head
Police speak to drivers at the Qld-NSW border at Coolangatta. Picture: Adam Head

Mr Miles said: "There's a period of a week to 10 days where there is an escalated risk, where there's a risk that people from New South Wales were in contact from people with Victoria before their border closed and they may enter Queensland during their incubation period - before they can be tested for COVID-19," Mr Miles said.

"And that's why we're announcing these strict new measures because we can't afford to import that risk from other states.

"For people who have been in Victoria or lived in Victoria within 14 days, they will no longer be able to travel to Queensland. We will strengthen, we will be much stricter in applying the exemptions and allowing the people here."

Mr Miles said Queensland did not want to continue allowing Victorians to enter and take up space in quarantine hotels.

Deputy Premier and Health and Ambulance Services Minister Steven Miles. Picture: Liam Kidston.
Deputy Premier and Health and Ambulance Services Minister Steven Miles. Picture: Liam Kidston.

"We need to reserve hotel accommodation for people who need to be quarantined, Queenslanders and Australians returning from overseas (and) Queenslanders returning from Victoria," he said.

"While there will continue to be compassionate grounds, hardship considerations, they will be much more strictly applied for people returning from Victoria."

Mr Miles said the government was introducing "mandatory testing for anyone who develops symptoms within 14 days of arriving in Queensland".

"That will apply to Queenslanders returning to Queensland as well as people visiting from other parts of the state," he said.

"It will be a condition of the Queensland border pass, the pass that you need to re-enter or enter Queensland, that you declare that if you have a symptom, develop a symptom that you will go and get tested."

The government will text message visitors to check if they have symptoms.

"We've also asked our HHSs (hospitals and health services) in areas with high numbers of tourists, so where most of the tourists will be going, like the Gold Coast, Brisbane (and) Cairns, to set up pop-up clinics in those tourist destinations, so that any visitor, once they've signed that declaration - once they've committed to us that if they develop a symptom they will get tested - they will get that reminder and they will go to one of those pop-up clinics," Mr Miles said.

Anyone who fails to undergo mandatory testing faces fines of $4004.

Mr Miles said there would be "some very hard decisions" and he appealed for "the community's understanding".

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young and Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski joined Mr Miles at a press conference at Brisbane.

Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski revealed 1000 people have now been turned away at road borders and 15 people have been placed into mandatory quarantine. 200 plane passengers have been placed in quarantine.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the tougher restrictions this morning.

"Given the developing situation in Victoria, Queensland is hardening its border," she tweeted.

"From noon, July 10, visitors from Victoria will no longer gain access or be able to quarantine in Queensland. They will be turned around."

"There are exemptions from quarantine for essential specialist workers, as well as for health, legal or compassionate grounds. Queensland's Chief Health Officer can also grant exemptions in exceptional circumstances. Very few exemptions will be granted.

"Truck drivers carrying freight will require a border pass renewed every seven days."

The Premier warned Queenslanders against travelling to Victoria.

"It is strongly recommended that Queenslanders do not travel to Victoria. Queensland residents returning from Victoria will gain access, but they must quarantine in a hotel for 14 days at their expense," she said.

"Queensland continues to provide every assistance to Victoria to contain the current outbreak."

Originally published as Drastic new steps announced to harden border