The Queensland government has brought forward the reopening of its border to domestic travellers to Dec. 13, four days earlier than the original date of Dec. 17, as vaccination rates near 80 percent of the state population.
“This is going to be a very, very special time of the year,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters on Dec. 6.
“I know people have said to me personally, some of them haven’t seen their grandkids for the first time,” she added.
“Nominating a time and date provides travellers and business with certainty to make their plans and comes four days early.”
Currently, 87.37 percent of eligible Queenslanders have received one jab of a vaccine, while 78.67 percent are fully vaccinated.
Additionally, interstate travellers arriving by road and air must be fully vaccinated and provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test—no quarantine is required.
However, those who are unvaccinated and living in a declared “hotspot” are locked out of the state.
International travellers must also still undergo 14 days of quarantine—either at home or in a hotel.
All travellers from hotspots will also need to be tested again on the fifth day after arrival.
Residents living in border communities across Queensland and New South Wales, notably Coolangatta-Tweed Heads, are able to apply for a border pass that will be valid for 14 days and travel between states without PCR testing.
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said police had engaged in extensive planning ahead of easing border restrictions.
“It’s a massive milestone for people, we’re expecting a lot of people to be travelling into Queensland,” she told reporters.
“As a result, we are expecting extensive delays. I need everyone to plan ahead and pack their patience.”
Along with doing random and 100 percent compliance checks on vehicles crossing into Queensland, police will use technology to scan vehicles.
The premier noted that there would be no changes to the introduction of restrictions on Dec. 17 for unvaccinated residents.
The approach follows in the footsteps of other Australian state leaders who have encouraged vaccination by incentivising “freedoms” to those willing to take the jab.
There are no current restrictions in Queensland for individuals—jabbed or un-jabbed.
However, once the milestones are reached, only vaccinated individuals will be allowed to enter a range of businesses and venues, including restaurants, clubs, cafes, and stadiums—the rest will be locked out.
An end date to all restrictions has yet to be announced.