Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced that Queensland will reopen its border to Sydney residents from Feb. 1, pleasantly surprising New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian who heard the news live on radio.
Sydney has been locked out of the Sunshine State since Dec. 20 following an outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, in the northern beaches area of Sydney.
Sydney residents from 35 local government areas will no longer face mandatory quarantine on arrival and road border checkpoints will be dismantled.
Palaszczuk said the border closure had been a “really long haul” and it has been “tough on everybody.”
“So it’s a great time for families to be reunited, but also, too, for people to plan their holidays,” she told Nine’s Today program on Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, on Thursday morning 2GB radio host Ben Fordham broke the news to the NSW premier who had not yet been informed by Palaszczuk.
“What do you know that I don’t?” Berejiklian asked Fordham, laughing.
“Queensland is opening the border from February 1,” he said.
“Fantastic. Good news. And I hope that means a lot of families who were hoping to get together over Christmas and New Years but weren’t able to, will be reunited,” Berejiklian said.
When asked why she was hearing the news from him and not the Queensland premier, Berejiklian said: “The important thing is that right outcome is achieved.”
“We haven’t had a hotspot for quite a while now in New South Wales. And even when we do I don’t think the whole state doesn’t need to suffer,” she said.
The NSW premier thinks state border closures should be a last resort as there are “lots of other tools” for health authorities manage outbreaks.
But other state premiers have been closing borders as their first or second option, she said.
She argued that people should be able to move freely within the country due to Australia’s national quarantine program and that local outbreaks can be managed without other states closing their borders to “punish the whole state.”
The news will be welcome to many NSW families who have loved ones in Queensland.
Palaszczuk said on Facebook: “We understand how tough border measures have been, but it’s all about keeping Queenslanders safe. People have done a terrific job looking after each other through the pandemic and now Queensland is good to go.”
The Queensland premier indicated there would not be blanket border closures in future with a national hotspot regime adequately containing outbreaks in Sydney and Brisbane over the last two months.