WELCOME BACK: 238,000 expected across Qld borders
QUEENSLAND will today roll out the welcome mat to a flood of interstate visitors as borders finally reopen, but the door will be slammed shut to Victoria as coronavirus cases continue to spiral in the Garden State.
Under tough new border measures, Victorians will be banned from entering Queensland, while every interstate visitor will be subject to mandatory tests if they develop coronavirus symptoms.
The crackdown comes as businesses prepare for a wave of interstate visitors to pour into the Sunshine State this week, with about 238,000 border passes filled out ahead of Queensland reopening to every state and territory - except Victoria - from midday, on Friday.
The new restrictions will mean anyone who has been in Victoria 14 days before trying to enter Queensland will be turned around at the border or the airport.
Queenslanders returning from Victoria will be exempt from the tough stance, but they will still be required to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days at their own expense.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk defended the move, pointing to the "developing situation" in Victoria - which yesterday recorded another 165 new cases of coronavirus.
The State Government also revealed that mandatory testing will apply to anyone entering Queensland who develops coronavirus symptoms within 14 days of their arrival.
Queenslanders returning from interstate will also be subject to mandatory testing if unwell, and those who fail to comply could be slapped with a steep $4000 fine.
Text messages will be sent to visitors reminding them to get tested if sick, with mobile testing clinics to be deployed to popular tourist destinations.
"Nothing is more important to me than protecting the health of Queenslanders," Ms Palaszczuk said yesterday. "It is strongly recommended that Queenslanders do not travel to Victoria."
Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski confirmed more than 238,000 border declaration passes had been filled out ahead of the border reopening.
"That indicates to us that over 238,000 people are intending to come to Queensland in the next week," Mr Gollschewski said.
"That is a lot of people. That will mean that we will see congestion and delays."
Those who had filled out the pass before Thursday will likely need to do so again to comply with the new measures announced yesterday.
Tweed Heads police were warning of potential 20km traffic jams and to prepare for heavy delays. Tweed/Byron Police Commander, Superintendent Dave Roptell appealed to drivers to be patient.
Queensland Industry Tourism Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said the border reopening was an "important milestone" towards the recovery of the struggling industry. "The importance cannot be overstated," he said. "Domestic visitation is a massive industry. $1.5 billion a month flows through domestic tourism."
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young yesterday said there would be a "very, very limited number of circumstances" where Victorians would be allowed into Queensland, such as visiting a relative who is dying.
Truck drivers carrying freight will be exempt from the quarantine orders, but they will need to carry a border pass that is renewed every seven days. Asked if he was concerned that the health directives could spark a legal challenge, Deputy Premier Steven Miles said all the directions had been subject to "significant legal advice".
Police yesterday confirmed nearly 200 people who had recently arrived into Queensland via airports had been put into hotel quarantine after coming out of a COVID hot spot.
There were also 15 people who had been put into quarantine after arriving at
the road border.
Originally published as WELCOME BACK: 238,000 expected across Qld borders