COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XIV

Qld's harsh border policy – a conversation with Joe Branigan | Queensland  Economy Watch

 

January 28

 

On Thursday the World Health Organisation reported there had been more than 100 million confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 589,451 bringing the total to 100,511,774.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that come next monday, the first day of February that travellers from 35 LGAs from Greater Sydney could come to Queensland for the first time since the 21st of December, 2020.

There had been a hard border in place between Queensland and New South Wales from the 25th of March, 2020 to the 10th of July, 2020.

That hard border was put in place again from the 8th of August, 2020 until the 3rd of November, 2020. 

On that day while the hard border came down for the state, residents of the Greater Sydney area would be stopped at border checkpoints.

Just under a month later on the 1st of December, 2020 they were welcome too.

But with the Avalon and Berala clusters on the eve of Christmas residents of the 35 LGAs of Greater Sydney were shut out on the 21st of December. 

The hard border with all of New South Wales resumed the next day.

Now the border was going to be open to all, no border declaration passes because there were no hotspots in the country.

The 28 day rule of no community transmission in New South Wales which was a previous benchmark had not been met – it had only been 12 days.

No, we haven’t ignored the rules at all. [Queensland’s Chief Health Officer] Dr Young is very confident in her discussions with the Chief Health Officer of New South Wales and those cases can be related back to the original clusters, so she’s very confident the 28 days has been met,” advised Premier Palaszczuk. 

There was a hint of a sales pitch to proceedings.

 

Coronavirus border restrictions: Queensland reopens border to all of NSW  from February 1, premier confirms

 

I think you’ll see a lot more collective response from premiers and first ministers, to try and get this right. As we’ve seen, the hotspot program has been working quite well. Now is a great opportunity to start making [travel] plans, especially around the Easter holidays,” she said.

The Federal Jobkeeper program was due to end soon and the Far North had been sufferring without international tourists and disruptions to domestic travel compounded the issue. Jobkeeper it was said had been a lifeline and the Federal government held those pursestrings.

More on brand was the Premier’s declaration, “If there was an outbreak of that UK variant strain, I think we’d have to shut down immediately like we did in Brisbane, but fingers crossed that won’t happen.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told during a radio interview welcomed the news.

The important thing is that the right outcome is achieved. We haven’t had a hotspot in NSW for a while and even if we do, the whole state doesn’t need to suffer. I hope this brings a lot of joy and relief to people and that people are reunited. That’s my wish for them,” she said.

The bulk of national media is based out of Sydney and Melbourne and there had definitely been a slant from all media outlets to be critical of Queensland and Western Australia border closures. Not so much the Northern Territory. I guess the elites were upset they couldn’t travel to the Gold Coast or Cairns but were okay if they missed out of Darwin or Launceston. More their loss if you ask me.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian advised that maybe the Queensland Premier was a victim of her own policy. 

Palaszczuk batted away the remark with, “We’ll just let New South Wales be New South Wales.

If you’re a Queensland you’ll understand how that brought a smile to my face. 

It has been a really, really long haul, and it has been tough on everybody, but I’ve always maintained, I have to keep Queenslanders safe,” the Queensland Premier said.

Palaszczuk’s caution and 21 changes to border passage over the past year had paid dividends. 1,386 confirmed cases in the state since the pandemic began and only six unfortunate deaths.

 

State Disaster Coordinator Steve Gollschewski.

 

The change to the border would help redirect Queensland police manpower to other efforts.

At maximum commitment, we’re up to 1,300 police per roster and at the moment we’re under 800 and that’s at any given time,” Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.

In the past twelve months Queensland Police had dealt with 7 million border declaration passes, processed 700,000 people through airports and checked 1.28 million vehicles at border checkpoints. 

Only 2,670 infringment notices had been handed out and 238 court orders filed for serious offences. 

“Those statistics tell you that by and large, overwhelmingly the Queensland community has done the right thing,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.

It had been one year since the first COVID case in Queensland was discovered and the next day would be one year since Queensland had declared a health emergency in response to the pandemic. 

We’re all starting to see a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel with the rollout of the vaccine imminent. I know there’s nowhere else I’d rather be on the globe at the moment — we’re going pretty well. No-one handed us the handbook on how to police pandemics back in January last year — because there isn’t one. We’ve had our eyes wide open and realised there is no playbook for this,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.

South Australia was relaxing travel from New South Wales and there were hints Victoria would make a similar decision.

Western Australia had changed their restrictions a week earlier on the 22nd of January, allowing people from Queenland and New South Wales to enter WA if they quarantined for 14 days and had a COIVD test.

My best friend was getting married in Sydney, the change to the border restrictions meant I would be able to go but the wedding was more than two weeks away and a lot could happen in two weeks with COVID.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY -BORDER WARS – PART X

Change that could open Qld border | Daily Mercury

November 23

This shit is bananas.

November 24

On the 25th of March, 2020 Queensland had closed its state borders. As time went on and the threat receded they opened up to other states but not to New South Wales where cases numbers remained high.

Yet the numbers did come down and on the 10th of July the borders were opened with New South Wales.

Following a break-out of cases the borders were closed again on the 8th of August.

On the 3rd of November my home state opened up to NSW again with the exception of the greater Sydney area.

On the 24th of November it was announced that residents from the greater Sydney area would be welcome too from the 1st of December without the need to quarantine for 14 days. This followed 28 days of no community transmission in Sydney.

Much of Greater Sydney has been barred from entry since August 1.

Queensland closed its borders to parts of Victoria in mid-May, and all of the state from the start of July.

There were high hopes to open up to Adelaide soon too.

The important thing is to recognise that this virus is circulating throughout the world, that the case numbers are increasing. We’re very safe here because of international border restrictions, but it could happen at any time. It was so unexpected when they got that case in South Australia and their hospital system down there is to be commended, that they picked up that case so quickly. Any cough, cold, sniffle, sore throat, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, any symptom, anywhere in the state, please just come forward and get tested,” Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young advised.

A middle-aged woman in business suit talks in a garden in front of older woman in black dress.

November 25

Wednesday.

The next day the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced she would open borders with Victoria on the 1st of December following 28 days of no community transmission.

“Can I congratulate [Victorian Premier] Daniel Andrews, their Chief Health Officer and all of Victorians because this is just such fantastic news,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Residents of 20 hotspots in Adelaide could not do the same yet but given recent developments with the South Australia lockdown that could just be a matter of time.

[The Chief Health Officer] is still concerned about that cluster, but we will make further announcements about that at the end of the month,” the Queensland Premier said.

Coming from those kind of hotspots in Adelaide and or overseas in the past 14 days would see people required to complete a border declaration to enter the state.

The “hard border” it was announced the same day would be dismantled come the first of December. The operation spread across the state had been a huge undertaking manned by Queensland Police, the Australian Defence Force and the State Emergency Services.

Those travelling from hotspots would have to fly into Queensland.

Flights in domestic airports direct from any hotspots would be me by police and random checks of other flights would be conducted.

Failure to comply with a travel obligation could lead to a $4,003 fine.

Coronavirus: Victorians fined trying to cross Queensland border

Importantly, for those people that have been in Adelaide, or any hotspot that may be declared, or overseas within the 14 days, they will need to complete the online border declaration pass application, and fly into Queensland. They won’t be allowed to travel across the road borders and undergo mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days, unless they have an exemption,” explained Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski.

That didn’t mean it would be a free for all driving into Queensland.

You won’t see the fixed checkpoints on Queensland’s borders anymore — on the roads that is. Police will still be conducting random intercepts of vehicles and checking, in particular, people that may have come from South Australia. We’ll also be checking for people who may have travelled from the hotspot and have not completed their border declaration,” the Deputy Commissioner explained.

It did mean the closure of Queensland’s state borders for the first time in a century was about to end.

For now.

Flight Centre boss prediction: 'Qld borders will open to NSW in weeks'

Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said more than 1 million vehicles and 640,000 travellers  had been checked during the border closure and more than 50,000 people into quarantine.

The policeman was also proud of his fellow officers.

“That’s a long haul … nine months of standing on borders. It’s a great relief for us to be able to return those officers to their normal duties,” he said.

Interestingly given the scope of the operation he advised the hard border could be brought back within a day if need be.

With the announcement of opening up the border the Queensland Premier spoke of hope for families to come together and tourist towns like Cairns and the Gold Coast to see some extra business having suffered so much in 2020 due to the loss of international and at times domestic travellers.

Kuranda Scenic Railway - Tropic Wings

Flight Centre CEO Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner who had to shut 100 of his centres across the country earlier in the year told ABC Radio Brisbane that his company had received more domestic online booking yesterday than any other day in the history of the company.

It just shows you how quickly people will come back,” he said.

Flight Centre CEO Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner told ABC Radio Brisbane the business received more domestic online bookings yesterday than on any other day in their history.

The Queensland Premier was adamant, “I can’t predict the future.”

However she spoke about what people had endured with the border closure and allowed to admit she hoped.

Queensland border to open to Victoria on December 1 after 28 days with no  COVID-19 community transmission, Premier says - ABC News

Let’s hope, fingers crossed, that that won’t happen, let’s absolutely hope that families can get together with families over this Christmas period,” she said.

Some words ring truer now in light of recent events than they already did back then.

We have to make sure that we manage our international borders. If Australia’s going to open up to Australia, the last thing we want to see, to put Australians at risk, is for a whole scale opening of our international borders — that would be catastrophic. Our hotel quarantine across our nation — now that we’re opening up Australia to Australia — needs to be even tighter. We still have to live in a COVID-safe world, unfortunately things are not normal, and what we’re seeing overseas in the Northern Hemisphere, you only need one outbreak in hotel quarantine and you’re back to square one,” she said.

In regards to state border closures she indicated the following of the National Cabinet decision to define hotspots.

The threshold will be that we will go to a hotspot regime, which is what we have done in the past. We’ve had a High Court case which said very clearly that states do have the option to close borders to protect the health of their citizens.

I will post here an interview that the Queensland Premier had with a Morning TV crew who are based down south.

Palaszczuk has chosen her words poorly in the past but she is all class while these two clowns make absolute fools of themselves.

She also spoke perhaps for the first time publicly about personal losses during the time she led our state through the greatest crisis of modern times. She hasn’t played this card in the past when pushing us through these contentious decisions, she hasn’t felt sorry for herself, she has stayed the course, put the lives of others before any other consideration and made the tough calls.

That’s a leader!

Thank you Premier Palaszczuk and thank you Professor Young.

In Queensland on the 25th of November, there had been 1,291 cases of COVID-19, six deaths, 1,675,612 tests conducted. There were currently 29 active cases in my home state.