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Queensland will reopen its border to Sydney residents in time for Christmas after the premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced the state was “good to go” and travel restrictions will be relaxed from 1 December.
After months of pressure from the federal and NSW governments to lift border restrictions that have for months cut off greater Sydney from Queensland, Palaszczuk said on Tuesday that the restrictions would lift next Tuesday.
“We know how tough this has been on families. This is a great day. It’s exciting news,” Palaszczuk said.
“Queensland is good to go. We absolutely want to see our tourism industry continue to flourish and prosper.”
Residents of regional NSW have been allowed into the sunshine state since the beginning of November, but the newly elected Queensland government had insisted the border would remain closed to greater Sydney until it had recorded 28 days with no locally transmitted cases of Covid-19.
Tuesday marks 31 days since NSW last recorded a case with no known source.
Palaszczuk said she would make a similar announcement for Victoria tomorrow as long as it did not record another new case on Wednesday. However, Queensland remained concerned about the status of the outbreak in South Australia.
“There are still some concerns about South Australia so there may be a very limited border declaration pass still needed for South Australia, but we will get back to everyone about that by the end of the month,” she said.
While she would not rule out another border closure if case numbers rose again, she said it would take a “major outbreak” for that to occur.
“We will always take the advice of Dr Young,” she said. “But I think what you are seeing now is that we have moved to a hotspot regime.
“If there was a massive outbreak across a particular state, I think you would see everybody react that way.”
The border closure had caused a significant rift between Palaszczuk and her NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian.
Berejiklian has previously described Queensland’s stance on the border as unreasonable and “unlikely”, and the NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, accused Palaszczuk of being “cruel” and playing politics in the lead-up to her state’s election on 31 October.
Before the announcement on Tuesday Berejiklian said she would be “absolutely thrilled and delighted” if the border reopened, but cautioned against a position that would see Queensland shut the door if there was another outbreak.
“I don’t want to give the message to the community that the borders will keep opening and shutting at a whim because that doesn’t give anybody any certainty,” she said.
Berejiklian came under fire on Tuesday after reports emerged that she had failed to properly self-isolate after receiving a Covid-19 test last week. She told Nine’s Today Show that she took a rapid-response test last Tuesday out of an “abundance of caution” because she was losing her voice.
But she admitted she had not isolated between taking the test and receiving a negative result.
“I took the test not because I thought I had any symptoms but because I was losing my voice and I wanted to make sure,” she said. “I was overly cautious.
“I’m sure I was in contact with people … I didn’t change my schedule. I can’t tell you exactly what I did. I can’t remember [but] in hindsight I should’ve closed my door and not had anything to do with anybody.”
Also on Tuesday a report in the Australian suggested the NSW hotel quarantine scheme had been plagued by problems since its inception, with leaked minutes from an internal briefing showing 169 security guards had been sacked and at least four overseas arrivals had left hotels during the period they were supposed to be quarantining since it began.
Berejiklian played down the significance of the report, saying it was inevitable there would be “minor issues” in the program.
“What I do know and can say with confidence is the system hasn’t let us down,” she said.
Source: The Guardian
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