Police ordered this man off a bus as it passed across the Queensland border in Coolangatta. (ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)
Queensland police have this morning implemented hard New South Wales border closures in Coolangatta, with numerous motorists and one man on board a bus already denied entry.
- Queensland Police say 14 entry points have been closed with barricades, including along the interwoven Coolangatta-Tweed Heads border
- A new checkpoint has been established on Griffith Street and Stuart Street in Coolangatta, with others on the M1 and Gold Coast Highway
- Police will deny entry to all travellers unless they have a permit or are Queensland residents
A number of motorists have been turned around at the newest checkpoint at Griffith Street.
At one stage, police officers went on board a public bus and checked each passenger’s reason for entry.
A man was ordered off the bus for not having a border permit, under a system introduced by the Queensland Government on March 25.
There are currently 17 entry points between Queensland and New South Wales, and all but three have been closed, with barricades and checkpoints set up at the remaining entries.
Previous restrictions at the border, seen here on Thursday, March 26, have now been tightened further. (AAP: Dave Hunt)
Only Queensland residents and those with a border permit, which can be applied for online, will be allowed entry.
There are exemptions for freight trucks.
A Queensland Police border checkpoint at Griffith Street in Coolangatta is now operational. (ABC Gold Coast: Cathy Border)
“If you turn up to a border checkpoint and you believe that you should be allowed through because it’s essential travel, you will be refused entry at the border,” Gold Coast District Officer Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said.
“You will be told to go home and you’ll be told to apply online for a border pass.”
Superintendent Wheeler said “there will also be a police checkpoint installed at the intersection between Griffith Street and Stuart Street” in Coolangatta.
“Those little side streets where people have been able to travel in vehicles freely, of course this is going to create traffic issues across the border and probably in some way around Coolangatta itself,” he said on Thursday.
“There’s no doubt there’s going be some pain in this.”
The current arrangements at the M1 and the Gold Coast Highway will continue, meaning there are now three checkpoints operating at the border.
Police also asking ‘why’
- Boundary Street and Clarke Street, Coolangatta
- Dixon Street and Bay Street, Coolangatta
- Dixon Street and Florence Street, Coolangatta
- Leward Street and Tooloon Street, Coolangatta
- Kent Street near Murraba Crescent, Coolangatta
- Miles Street, Coolangatta
- Tomewin Mountain Road Currumbin Valley and Coolangatta
- Nerang Murwillumbah Road, Natural Bridge and Coolangatta
Superintendent Wheeler said police were also taking a tougher stand on reasons for entry.
The previous 14-day self-isolation option for tourists or those travelling for non-essential matters will no longer be available.
“This is definitive, you will be refused entry,” Superintendent Wheeler said.
Youth worker Jay lives in NSW but is employed across the border.
He said he was turned around by police in Coolangatta.
“I don’t have an official pass,” he said.
“I’ve got my working-with-children check and my work ID but apparently that’s not enough.”
Police are also investigating a car that was seen driving over a footpath at Ducat Street in Kirra to avoid barriers.
“We’ve (also) had complaints … as a result of backpackers on buses and blatantly disregarding what’s been asked of them,” Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said.
“We’ll be inspecting buses, we’ll be issuing enforcement notices.”
Queensland residents and those with a border pass are being asked to use the M1, with other vehicles expected to be diverted to the Gold Coast Highway.
‘Months, not weeks’
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Superintendent Wheeler said hard closures and barricades had been decided upon to free up police resources elsewhere.
“We do have to deploy our resources appropriately and make sure this is sustainable,” he said.
“We’re gearing up for months, not weeks.”
Police will be supported by the State Emergency Service and traffic inspectors from the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
Staff from the City of Gold Coast were assisting Queensland police.
Arrivals by rail, sea and air are also subject to the entry restrictions.
Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak
As of 11:59pm Saturday, April 4, restrictions for interstate FIFO workers will come into force.
According the Queensland Government website, exempt FIFO workers include those “critical to the ongoing operation of a resource activity or the resource supply chain and will be detailed on the Queensland Health website.”
‘We’re flattening the curve’ says Premier
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said flattening the curve will mean strict security and health measures will remain in place for around six months.
Sixteen people have already been turned back at the state’s border this morning, since tougher new measures came into affect today.
“At the moment we don’t have community transmission in Queensland, it is in New South Wales and it is in Victoria,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“That is why we took the strongest measure we possibly could in terms of closing that border.
“If we’re flattening that curve, it means that we’re going to go through it longer so our hospitals can cope.
Frictions being felt across the border
Tweed Shire Mayor Katie Milne said residents are “feeling overwhelmed” by Queenslanders moving south across the border.
Hard barriers, like this one in Wallangarra, have been set up across the Queensland border. (Supplied: Wallangarra General store)
“Beach carparks are overwhelmed by Queensland number plates as well which is actually causing quite a bit of friction,” she said.
“Particularly at Cabarita and Kingscliff.”
Yesterday the Tweed Shire Council voted unanimously to call on the New South Wales Government to implement its own border closure.
“We’re calling on the Queenslanders to stay home,” she said.
Further inland and the Mayor of Tenterfield, on the border west of Lismore, said road blockades are causing headaches for locals.
“We need to work with the Queensland Government and I just hope our residents can roll with the punches for a while,” Mayor Peter Petty said.
“The sooner we go hard with this… the sooner we come out of it.”
Police checkpoints have been set up on the Darling Downs at Killarney, Stanthorpe, Wallangarra, Texas, Goondiwindi and Talwood.