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Decision time for Palaszczuk on whether to end Queensland coronavirus border closures

The Queensland Government will today give its long-awaited update on how and when the state’s borders will reopen, but the coronavirus surge in Victoria could threaten plans to relax restrictions.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has previously proposed July 10 as a date when Queensland’s borders could reopen with New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory, provided the virus was sufficiently under control.

But last week, the Premier expressed concern about the escalating number of COVID-19 cases in Victoria, and said the situation there would factor into the decision.

Yesterday, Victoria recorded a “concerning” upward trend in coronavirus infections, with 75 new cases.

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This prompted Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young to announce new quarantine rules for football codes in Queensland — a move that’s thrown the AFL season into turmoil.

West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui taps a football towards his teammate during a game against Richmond.
West Coast and Richmond were due to meet on Thursday night on the Gold Coast.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

“This is about protecting Queenslanders,” Dr Young said.

“We have seen hundreds of COVID-19 cases in Victoria in the last two weeks and there is sustained community transmission there.

“These restrictions are temporary while the situation in Victoria unfolds.

The tightened restrictions mean Queensland AFL, NRL and rugby players will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine after playing Melbourne-based teams.

The same rules will apply to games played in other states against clubs that were recently in Melbourne.

It came after Police Minister Mark Ryan announced a crackdown on Queenslanders in quarantine in a bid to avoid a coronavirus spike in Queensland.

Mr Ryan said regional areas with high transient populations, such as the backpacker community in the Wide Bay, would also be targeted.

Man with grey hair and glasses in a suit at a podium with his hands raised mid-sentence.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Queenslanders who aren’t in a job “need their borders open”.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Queenslanders ‘the biggest losers’

The issue has become a political lightning rod in recent weeks after calls from the State Opposition, and tourism and business representatives to open the borders earlier.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison weighed in again yesterday, saying it was important for all Premiers and Chief Health Ministers to reopen borders.

“The people who would be the biggest losers from that border not opening up are the people of Queensland,” Mr Morrison said.

“There are Queenslanders who aren’t in jobs, which need their borders open.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk talking to reporters
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was initially saying borders could remain closed until September.(AAP Image: Dan Peled)

Travel bubble unlikely

Queensland has recorded no new cases in the past 24 hours and has just two remaining active cases.

Ms Palaszczuk has all but ruled out a travel bubble with other states to lock out Victorian residents, arguing the Prime Minister was opposed to the idea.

But people entering Queensland from designated hotspots around Melbourne are still required to quarantine for 14 days.

Last month, the Premier floated the idea of borders remaining closed until September, but has since backed away from that statement.

Interstate travel and the opening of state borders are part of stage three of the Queensland Government’s roadmap to easing a range of restrictions, including border controls from July 10. .


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