Qld reopens to Sydney as Perth shut out

By | February 5, 2021

Hundreds of police officers will be sent back to other duties as Greater Sydney residents enter Queensland for the first time in 2021.

The Sunshine State reopened to the city at 1am on Monday, 42 days after locking the five million residents out just days before Christmas over fears of the Northern Beaches cluster.

The concrete and plastic barriers are not expected to be taken down until Monday night, but motorists no longer need to stop and have their border declaration pass sighted.

Speaking from the Coolangatta checkpoint on Monday morning, Gold Coast superintendent Mark Wheeler told Channel 9’s Today program traffic flow was “excellent” and the border removal would allow officers to return to their other duties.

“(The) five checkpoints we had operating the last 42 days will provide about 170 people back into other operations, into their front line positions. Also remembering that we still have a hotel quarantine program, and we will need to maintain a presence at those airports,” he said.

“But most of the resources will go back into front line to give us more operational capacity, which would be great.

“I know the staff who have been working on our borders are extremely happy … Everyone knows the job they were doing was incredibly important in keeping COVID-19 out of Queensland, but of course they are happy to go back to their normal roles.”

Acting premier Steven Miles told ABC Radio police would keep border infrastructure “nearby” in case the wall needed to be reinstated.

“They’ve pulled them down for now but will keep it stored nearby,” he said.

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“But if you’re from Sydney, now is a great time to come to Queensland.”

Meanwhile, almost two million Greater Perth residents have been barred from entering Queensland as the city goes into a five-day lockdown following a positive COVID-19 case in a hotel quarantine worker.

Anyone who enters Queensland from Western Australia as of Monday morning will require a border declaration pass, and Mr Wheeler said there would be “very few exemptions” for anyone coming in from the 45 affected local government areas.

“Domestic airport terminals will still have a police presence, and we will be scrutinising people as they come in,” he said.

Mr Miles said anyone who had arrived in Queensland from Perth since January 25 needed to get tested and isolate until they received a negative COVID-19 result.

At least ten flights have arrived into Brisbane from Perth in that time, and Mr Miles said the government was working with airlines to track down “thousands” of potential passengers.

“There’s enough to be concerned, but the messaging is out now … There shouldn’t be anymore people coming in while Perth is in lockdown,” he said.

“We did get so close to the whole nation being open.”

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