Queensland will keep its hard border lockdown in place until NSW and Victoria completely eliminate community transmission of coronavirus.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the announcement as Queensland marked its 29th day with no new cases, leaving only seven active infections in the state.
Meanwhile, Victoria recorded 222 new coronavirus cases and 17 deaths, while NSW counted three more cases.
When asked about reopening her state, Ms Palaszcuk said her government is still ‘very concerned’ about the situation in NSW and is monitoring it daily.
As for Victorians, she said they will be barred from entry at least until December.
‘I think we’re going to continue to see restrictions in Victoria up until Christmas time,’ she told reporters on Monday.
‘That’s very unfortunate for people living there but it’s a serious situation.’
Queensland’s border slammed shut to Victorians on July 10 as a second wave of coronavirus began smashing the state.
Fears the outbreak could spill into NSW quickly mounted, prompting Ms Palaszcuk to lock NSW and the ACT out a month later, on August 8.
Despite infections dwindling in NSW, the QLD Premier said the changing situation in the state, like the City of Sydney this week being declared a hotspot, meant interstate travel still poses a health risk.
‘We are still very concerned about NSW and we are watching very closely if there is any movement of cases in northern NSW,’ Ms Palaszcuk said on Tuesday.
‘It’s critical that we keep on top of that…we can’t give that certainty when the situation is constantly evolving and changing.
‘I will make the best decisions to keep Queenslanders safe.’
Victorians could be barred from entering QLD until Christmas if community transmissions do not cease. A person wearing a face mask is seen in Melbourne on Tuesday
The QLD Premier said she is still ‘very concerned’ about the case numbers in NSW. Two women are pictured wearing face masks out shopping in the CBD on August 15
Ms Palaszcuk has been slammed for her tight border restrictions, with critics arguing they are impacting the economy and draining resources needed to enforce them.
Responding to criticism on Tuesday, Ms Palaszcuk credited her state’s tight regulations with keeping Queensland’s community transmissions low.
‘Queenslanders can go about their daily lives which is not the case in other parts of the world,’ she said.
‘My priority is to keep Queensland as open for Queensland as much as possible during this time.’
‘We are not the only state that has borders shut, and what we have seen with those states with hard border closures we do not have a large number of cases.’
The Premier also revealed she had recently received a letter from Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressing his concern about the economic hit to the agricultural sector and supply chains, which he said were at risk due to border closures.
Ms Palaszczuk said the letter was addressed to all premiers and she would be open to discussing the matter further in Cabinet.
‘The prime minister has written to all premiers. We only just received that letter. It’s a very generic letter and of course we’re happy to have further discussions at national cabinet,’ she said, Nine News reports.
Ms Palaszcuk credited her state’s tough border measures with keeping QLD’s coronavirus case numbers low. Young women pictured enjoying a night out in Surfers Paradise in June after COVID-19 restriction eased
‘It’s just a very generic letter. It talks about health, well freight we have a national agreement about freight and the testing of drivers and in relation to health we want the best health care for all Australians no matter where they live.’
Queensland Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the border closure was a huge strain on police resources.
‘We have over 1200 officers per roster dedicated to the COVID response,’ he told the Today Show on Tuesday.
‘We’ve been doing that for many months now. We’re managing it. It’s a strain. We’re planning ahead. We realise we may be going into next year with this type of approach and our planning is thorough around that.”
‘The message is very clear – make sure you have the reason to enter Queensland. If you are coming out of the hotspot states as well as Victoria and ACT you will not be let in unless you have exemption and should have border declaration pass ready,” he said.’
Of NSW’s three new cases, one is a returned traveller in hotel quarantine and two were locally acquired from south western Sydney.
One of the locally acquired cases is a close contact of a previously reported case linked to the funeral gatherings cluster, bringing the total cases associated with this cluster to 73.
The source of infection for the other locally acquired case is under investigation, and contact tracing is under way.
Although number in NSW continue to drop, NSW Health said the unidentified source of cases remains a concern.
Airforce personnel walk though a park in Melbourne On Tuesday as Victoria recorded 222 new cases and 17 deaths
‘Even though daily case numbers are low, there have been 16 cases in the last 4 weeks whose source is not identified or linked to clusters, mainly in western and south western Sydney, indicating that COVID-19 is continuing to circulate in the community, undetected,’ NSW Health warned.
NSW Health declared the City of Sydney a coronavirus hotspot on Monday following recent confirmed cases in the east including at Cafe Peron in Double Bay and the Den Sushi restaurant in Rose Bay.
The move came after the Thai Rock restaurant in Potts Point sparked an outbreak of 37 cases and a number of new infections linked to CBD venues surfaced over the past two weeks.
Anyone who lives in the City of Sydney or has visited there in the past two weeks has been urged to get tested, even if they only have mild symptoms such as a runny nose or scratchy throat.
A women wearing a mask waslks through Melbourne’s deserted CBD on Tuesday as stage four restrictions remain in place across the city