The Australian state of Queensland has announced that it will shut its borders for two weeks to its own residents currently interstate, as well as people escaping lockdowns in other states, starting midday on Aug. 25, citing capacity issues with hotel quarantine.
The announcement came less than two hours before the border was due to shut.
From noon on Aug. 25 local time, no one will be permitted to enter Queensland and enter hotel quarantine for a period of two weeks except for those with exemptions, including for compassionate reasons.
“Queensland is being loved to death,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. “We have been overwhelmed by new arrivals from interstate hotspots relocating to Queensland to escape lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria.
“While we have allowed genuine relocations for work and other purposes, it has overwhelmed our hotels and it has to be stopped at least for the next fortnight,” she said.
This includes Queensland residents who are currently interstate. “They’ll still be able to come home. We’re just having this pause for two weeks,” she told reporters on Aug. 25.
She added, “I want them to come home,” but wanted it to be in an “orderly fashion.”
The premier said over 5,000 people are currently quarantining in 22 Queensland hotels.
She said Queensland was helping the Commonwealth relocate people from Afghanistan. “We’re getting calls about needing extra capacity to cope with that,” she said, adding, “We’re just being stretched to the limit. These two weeks will ease it all down.”
Palaszczuk said that officials from Queensland Police and the state health department came to her with the idea of the two-week “pause,” saying they were struggling to cope.
New arrivals and Queensland residents will have to reapply for a border pass.
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the measures are about keeping Queensland safe. “The pressures on hotel quarantine are simply unsustainable,” she said, adding that the number of daily domestic arrivals is unpredictable.