State’s police commissioner tells people to ‘pack your patience’ and expect long delays if entering by road
The reopening of the Queensland border means thousands of people, including some who have been locked out of the state since July, will be allowed to return.
Some have been living in caravan parks in northern New South Wales; others have been waiting to plan reunions with relatives.
The barricades at Tweed Heads – dubbed “checkpoint Coolie” – have been in place for five months. During that time the closed border has been managed in a way where hardline bureaucracy has trumped compassion and common sense.
At the same time, Queensland has dodged the large-scale Covid outbreaks that have hit Sydney and Melbourne.
“I know people have said to me personally some of them haven’t seen their grandkids for the first time,” the premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said.
“Some of them haven’t seen their aunts and uncles, their mothers and fathers.”
When will the border open?
The Queensland border will open at 1am on Monday, 13 December. Police checkpoints will remain in place at road crossings and airports to ensure arrivals meet entry criteria.
Who is allowed to come across?
Fully vaccinated people from declared “hotspots” – that includes NSW, Victoria and South Australia – will be able to enter by road or air from 13 December.
A person is considered fully vaccinated one week after their second dose of an approved vaccine.
Do I need a test?
Yes. Anyone crossing into Queensland from a declared hotspot requires evidence of a negative PCR test in the 72 hours prior to crossing the border.
Arrivals from hotspots must also take a second test five days after arriving.
What about people who live near the border?
One of the biggest problems created by the closed border is how it severed interconnected communities on either side.
Vaccinated border residents will be able to obtain a border pass – valid for 14 days – that will allow them to move freely across the border without the need for a PCR test.
How will border crossings be managed?
Logistics are still being worked out, but the Queensland police commissioner, Katarina Carroll, has told people to “pack your patience” and expect very long delays.
Carroll says police may do random checks, or they may check all cars crossing the road border. Police also have number-plate scanning technology to record all cars crossing into the state.
“To speed up the process, make sure that all of those travelling into Queensland have a border pass that is clearly displayed and easy to see. Motorists, please consider travelling out of those traditional peak hours.
“Police will be meeting you at the borders, particularly on the road borders (where) we’ll be conducting anywhere from random to 100% compliance checks.”
Do some people still have to quarantine?
International arrivals will still have to quarantine, either at home or in a hotel.
Does this mean lockdowns are over?
Not likely. Queensland has acknowledge it cannot continue to pursue a Covid zero strategy, but that outbreaks might be met with targeted lockdowns or mask mandates in future.
When do other rules come into effect?
Queensland has already said its plans to bar unvaccinated people from some public spaces, including cafes and restaurants, is set to come in place four days later, on 17 December.