Queensland is further reopening, with ACT travellers welcomed next week and the number of international arrivals to double by the end of October.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has struck a deal with ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr to allow travellers from the nation’s capital to freely enter Queensland via air from 1am on 25 September, provided they haven’t visited a COVID-19 hotspot.
She insists Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young recommended the move.
“Let me make it very clear: I listen to the advice of the chief health officer and that is exactly what we will continue to do,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Dr Young says the border is only open to air travellers and anyone coming from NSW via Canberra will have to wait 14 days before entering.
Mr Palaszczuk said she has no problem with Prime Minister Scott Morrison jetting in to hit the hustings ahead of the 31 October state election.
“He can come if he wants, doesn’t bother me,” she smirked.
But Ai Group, the national employers association, said Queensland’s failure to reopen to NSW creates unneessary barriers for business and damages confidence.
Chief executive Innes Willox said Queensland’s definition of regional NSW and regional Victoria as coronavirus ‘hotspots’ is nonsense.
“It will now be easier to get from Canberra and Adelaide to Brisbane than it will be to get from Tweed Heads to Coolangatta,” he said.
Queensland will also lift its quota on international arrivals from 500 to 1,000 by 24 October with the government calling for expressions of interest from Brisbane and Cairns hotels to take returnees.
Ms Palaszczuk says stories of Australians trapped overseas in places like Europe, where the virus is spreading, are heartbreaking.
“I understand the desperation of mums and dads wanting their kids to come home or uncles and aunts or parents and I want to do everything we possibly can,” the premier said.
Ms Palaszczuk was chirpy after losing her voice earlier in the week and working from home on Thursday. She had a COVID-19 test, with the result negative.
“Now I’ve actually had a COVID test I can tell Queenslanders you barely know that it’s happening,” she joked.
“In fact, it’s a little bit ticklish.”
Meanwhile, no new cases were recorded in the Sunshine State overnight, with 5,751 tests conducted and active infections falling to 25. It has been eight days since a community transmission.
However virus fragments have been detected in sewage at Hervey Bay, north of Brisbane.
Dr Young said it was likely they were from an older case but could be due to community transmission.
“We know you can shed virus for a long, long time but we don’t want to ignore the fact that perhaps, maybe, that virus is there in the sewage due to a recent infection.”
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.