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.

ROCKET MAN – PRELUDE

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Prelude

If Roy Orbinson could brag “I Drove All Night.” Then surely I could add “I Flew All Night” to see my sister get married on the other side of the world. Long term readers will note my little sister lives in England and yet I am here in Brisbane, Australia. She is well travelled and successful in her chosen career as a school teacher. In 2011 I married my wife Karen and Nadia flew to Australia to be there. She arrived on a Friday morning following a commute that included a five hour stop over in Singapore sporting some jet lag, the wedding was on Saturday and Sunday evening we had dinner before she flew out Monday morning and Karen and I drove up the coast to Maleny for our honeymoon. Roy Orbinson and I, it is fair to say are in good company. Having set the bar so high as my new brother in law noted in his wedding speech it seems I was determined to top such an exhausting commute.

The idea came to me not long after watching Paddington 2, I awoke one Saturday morning to the idea that somehow I would make it to London for my sister’s wedding. When the engagement had been announced I had simply relegated myself to the idea that I would not be able to attend with my wife. But the idea came to me in my sleep that I should go and once these things take hold in my mind they are very hard to shake. I looked up the cheapest flights available, one was a 38 hour commute with a 17 hour stop over in a place called Guangzhou. I worked with an English lad recently who told me of his flights over to Brisbane with long lay over in the Middle East and a stop in Perth. Uncomfortable long commutes that saved hundred of dollars were more appealing to me than any sense of comfort. So long had I not travelled internationally that surely a Chinese airport would prove vastly interesting to me at least… I hoped. I flew to London courtesy of my parents on a family holiday in 2002, we went from Australia to Singapore in 8 hours before boarding a 14 hour flight to London. I had been 21 and 78 kilos. Now how would I fare older and heavier with such a commute? An attack of deep vein thrombosis seemed very possible.

But the more I thought of it the more this all seemed to steady my course. I would go to my sister’s wedding, I would not sightsee, I would not have any spending cash, I would not take my wife, I would get in a steel tube, deposit myself at the other side of the world, attend the wedding, sleeping on floors of my sister’s apartment, climb back in the steel tube and arrive home. I talked to Karen, I looked ahead with our budget, I made a decision. I rang Flight Centre who had given me a quote a couple of weeks earlier. If the price had significantly gone up that would be the end of it, it was not- the flights to be booked now were $5 less. I bought the tickets, I was going.

I messaged my sister who was surprised and worried about the expense but happy I think. She arranged motel accommodation for me out of her own pocket in her neighbourhood of Bexleyheath, as a windswept and global traveller, she offered advice, she was generous and helpful to a fault. My only hope was to not get in the way and already she was doing things for me.

I went to a currency exchange and got some pounds and yuan. The gentleman there asked if I needed any travellers cheques. I told him this was it, he asked me how long I would be in London because those amount of pounds wouldn’t go very far. I told him I would not be long, I was to go to a wedding and fly out the next day. He nodded, assured of the amount now and impressed by my plans. Still it made me think of how people in days gone by had arrived in countries to settle with little in their pockets. I could not imagine doing it but they had. For me there was something that made it real when I got the other currencies more so than when the ticket had been booked. My mother gave me a lend of some money for an emergency, the emergency thankfully never came so I returned the money and gave her a tea towel and some magnets from far away lands.

This was only possible because of the generosity of others, my brothers and new relatives bought dinners, I was hurried to Ubers already paid for by fellow passengers who refused my outstretched notes, I walked past tempting eateries in airport lounges only to smile when the food was passed out on my flights hours later. The kindness of others and good luck made this trip possible and I will forever be grateful.

to be continued….

-Lloyd Marken