Tension between Queensland and New South Wales over border rules has intensified with the NSW Premier slamming Queensland’s reopening criteria.
Tension between Queensland and New South Wales over border rules has intensified with the NSW Premier slamming Queensland’s reopening criteria.

Border reopening standards are a ‘tall order’

NSW will have to report zero community transmission of the pandemic coronavirus for 28 days before Queensland reopens its border to that state.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young on Thursday laid out her standard for reopening the state's border.

"The standard is that we keep Queenslanders safe, that we know the highest risk of bringing the virus into the state is from areas that have higher amounts of community transmission," Dr Young said.

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"At this point in time, the trigger to open the border to NSW is when they've had two incubation periods of no community transmission.

"If they were to have 28 days of no community transmission, that's the current definition to open the border, then that would occur."

However the NSW Premier has hit back at Queensland's tough new "trigger" for reopening its southern border, despite announcing a further 12 new cases of coronavirus including one "mystery" case.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at a press conference. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at a press conference. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone

In the past two weeks, NSW Health has had 11 cases of COVID-19 where the source of infection could not be traced.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was critical of the move, calling the target a "pretty big ask".

"The guidelines that have been sent by the Queensland government in relation to when they will reopen their border is a pretty tall order," she said.

"I don't know if we'll ever get to that case, that number."

Ms Berejiklian said she asked Annastacia Palaszczuk to allow health workers to travel across the border to ensure communities straddling state lines have access to doctors.

Ms Berejiklian said she had a "polite and constructive" conversation with Ms Palaszczuk on Thursday, where she raised "the concern of NSW in relation to the freedom of health workers to move freely across the border".

The Queensland premier said she would "pass on" the concerns to her health minister, Ms Berejiklian said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks during the announcement that the 2020 AFL Grand Final game will be played at the Gabba. Picture: NCA NewWire / Dan Peled
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks during the announcement that the 2020 AFL Grand Final game will be played at the Gabba. Picture: NCA NewWire / Dan Peled

However, Ms Berejiklian said she "didn't get a sense or a hint that (Queensland) would relax state borders any time soon".

Hospitality lobby groups are pressuring Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to ease COVID restrictions ahead of the AFL grand final so they can fully capitalise on the tourist dollar.

It comes as Ms Palaszczuk faces intense pressure and criticism over the State's border restrictions, which are likely to come to a head at Friday's national cabinet meeting.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has signalled he wanted borders opened by Christmas saying Australia can't keep living as a "dislocated nation."

And Treasurer John Frydenberg lashed out at the premier over the "cruel implications" the border rules have had.

Restaurant and Catering Australia (RCA) and the Queensland Hotels Associations (QHA) say they appreciate how well Queensland has managed the pandemic but are hoping restrictions will be softened in coming weeks if community transmission remains low or is zero.

The AFL grand final will be staged at the Gabba on October 24.

Under stage three restrictions pubs and eateries (greater than 200 sqm) can operate at 25 per cent capacity and, for many restaurants and hotels, they are already at capacity on weekends.

Police and army at the Queensland border. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Police and army at the Queensland border. Picture: Nigel Hallett

One hotel operator near the Gabba said that unless patronage numbers increased for the AFL grand final it would make no difference to their turnover because they are already at 'capacity' on game days.

RCA chief executive Wes Lambert said the grand final would benefit the industry but it would have an even greater impact if stage restrictions were loosened.

"Absolutely (we would want restrictions eased), especially if community transmission is low, or zero, to allow businesses to capitalise on the historic occasion," Mr Lambert said.

"I think it would be a fitting reward for an industry which has borne the brunt and taken the lead role to keep people safe."

QHA CEO Bernie Hogan said AFL games staged in southeast Queensland and Cairns this week had already helped the industry slowly get back on its feet.

"Queensland has managed the outbreaks well at this point and depending on health advice, we will continue to work with the government to see how we can take advantage of this opportunity," he said

Queensland on Thursday reported two new cases, a man and woman in their 30s, believed to be linked to the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre-Queensland Correctional Services Academy cluster.

 

 

Originally published as Qld's border reopening standards are a 'tall order'



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