Palaszczuk to decide if borders will reopen

The day has finally come for the Queensland government to decide whether it wants to open its doors to the rest of the nation.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has in recent weeks suggested July 10 as a date when Queensland’s borders could reopen with New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

That was dependent on whether the virus was sufficiently under control in those states and judging by the latest figures it looked as if that plan would become a reality.

However, the astonishing spike in cases in Victoria may have thrown a spanner in the works for a wider reopening.

Ms Palaszczuk said last week the rise in infections across Melbourne was of “national concern” and infections have risen sharply since then, with 75 new cases yesterday.

She said she Queenslanders have stopped her in the street and asked that the borders remain restricted to stop a second wave in the state — which has recorded no new cases in the past 24 hours and has just two remaining active cases.

On the flip side she has faced pressure from businesses that rely on interstate tourism to stay afloat.

They have tried and failed to push the state government to open borders sooner as Queensland’s coronavirus case numbers dwindle.

The closure has been a point of frustration for border communities and industries desperate for customers and foot traffic after taking a hit during the global pandemic.

Ms Palaszczuk and her government have argued keeping the borders closed has kept Queenslanders safe, while the Liberal National Party wants them opened to stop businesses going under.

The pressure continued yesterday when Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Sunshine State needs to open borders sooner rather than later, before serving a simple message to Ms Palaszczuk’s government.

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

“The people of Queensland need their economy to re-fire.

“There are Queenslanders who aren’t in jobs who need their borders open and I have been very consistent and advocating to all the premiers and chief ministers, regardless of what side of politics they come from, that it is important to get these borders open.”

However, Queensland has been told by the Australian Medical Association it would be justified in keeping its border closed for another week, if not two, because of a COVID-19 resurgence in Victoria.

“There would definitely be good reasons to wait a week or two to decide what is happening,” the AMA’s Dr Chris Moy told AAP.

“And maybe the case … I totally understand a decision not to open up the borders.”

One of the ideas on the table, that could have potentially pleased everyone, was a travel bubble to lock Victoria out and allow other states in, but that now looks very unlikely.

Ms Palaszczuk has raised it with the Prime Minister in the National Cabinet, but he was opposed to the idea.

However, people entering Queensland from designated hot spots around Melbourne are still required to quarantine for 14 days.

Football is also being hit by the restrictions as Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young announced new quarantine rules. It means that Queensland AFL, NRL and rugby players will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine after playing Melbourne-based teams.

The same goes for games played in other states against clubs that were recently in Melbourne.

“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.

“Should the situation improve, then Queensland would of course revise the requirements.”

The next easing of restrictions will be triggered on July 10 which is also the last day of school holidays in Queensland.

Up to 100 people will be permitted to gather in restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs.

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