Queensland border to open to ACT residents | The Canberra Times

Queensland border to open to ACT residents | The Canberra Times
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Canberrans will be free to travel to Queensland in time for the school holidays, but only if they declare they haven’t been into NSW for at least two weeks before flying to the Sunshine State. The Queensland government has opened the doors to ACT residents, announcing on Friday they will accept travellers from Canberra from 1am on September 25. It’s the second travel bubble to open up this week, with ACT residents also allowed to fly to South Australia without needing to quarantine. Tasmania could be the next to follow, with the island state considering ending its travel ban next month. But residents of Queanbeyan, Yass, Goulburn and surrounding regions won’t be afforded the same rights, while anyone who lives in Canberra but works in NSW will also be denied entry. Read more: The Canberra COVID-19 restrictions changing from today ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he wouldn’t hold-up Canberra’s travel bubble to include exemptions for cross-border communities. “We had argued, and I think reasonably, that the ACT should be treated differently from NSW,” he said. “Acknowledging and understanding the implications that has for the areas immediately adjacent to the border, but in fairness to 430,000 ACT residents it was important our very good record for managing COVID was respected and understood by those jurisdictions.” The Queensland government has declared NSW a coronavirus hotspot, causing tension between the two states. NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet lashed the Queensland government on Friday for allowing ACT travel but denying NSW residents “They’re turning the Newell Highway into the Berlin Corridor,” Mr Perrottet said.”I don’t understand their position, this is not State of Origin, what we should be focused on is a national approach.” The Queensland government banned travel from Canberra at the start of August, declaring the capital a hotspot despite being COVID-19 free since July. Queensland said it made the decision because one traveller from NSW used Canberra Airport as a backdoor entry to the state. The travel ban was thrust into the national spotlight last week when Canberra woman Sarah Caisip was denied permission to attend her father’s funeral in Queensland. Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the decision to lift the ban was recognition of Canberra’s lack of coronavirus cases. “This is a great chance to come and visit friends and relatives, go to the reef, go to Cairns or go to one of our wonderful tourism hotspots,” Mr Miles said. “This is great news for the ACT and recognition for the fact that they have been some time without any active cases.” Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said people travelling from the ACT to Queensland must not have entered declared COVID-19 hotspots of NSW or Victoria 14 days prior to arriving and must enter via air. “They can’t drive because if they drive they’ll be driving through a hotspot,” Dr Young said. Dr Young said a person from NSW could spend 14-days in the ACT and then travel on to Queensland without being required to quarantine. Mr Barr said the second travel bubble opened to Canberra this week would be a timely boost to local tourism and allow friends and family to reunite. But, for ACT residents who work or play sport in neighbouring NSW jurisdictions, quarantine still applies, with Mr Barr saying opening up nearby communities including Queanbeyan, Jerrabomberra and Murrumbateman to interstate travel was beyond his control. “There may of course be decisions Queensland and South Australia make in the coming week that will allow NSW residents to travel as well but for now it was important to get an outcome for ACT residents,” he said. The Chief Minister’s sights are set on Tasmania next and a travel bubble could be possible by the end of October after flagging a change to the initial December timeline. Canberra Airport head of aviation Michael Thomson welcomed the Queensland decision, which came a day after the first almost full flight in months departed to Adelaide. “This could not have come at a better time and we are excited that we are reopening to Queensland,” he said. “There is a huge pent-up demand to travel and we have already experienced this with near-full flights to Adelaide after the border reopening yesterday. “We expect our Brisbane and Gold Coast services to be extremely popular leading into the school holidays.” There are currently seven flights to Brisbane and two flights to the Gold Coast departing Canberra weekly, operated by Virgin Australia and Qantas. “The more people flying means more people buying coffees, grabbing a magazine or catching a taxi. These are positive steps,” Mr Thomson said.

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