Queensland will open its border to millions of Sydney residents from December 1, with Victorians also likely to be included in the landmark reopening.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the announcement on Tuesday morning.
“We are in contact with the airlines – we know how important it is that the airlines are able to plan and people are able to plan for their holidays as well. And Queensland is good to go,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Queensland allowed NSW residents from outside greater Sydney to cross its borders from November 3. But millions of residents of the 32 local government areas in the harbour city remained excluded.
On Tuesday, Ms Palaszczuk said NSW had met the 28-day threshold of zero unlinked virus infections imposed by Queensland to allow the reopening. Victoria will meet the threshold on Wednesday, if its run of no new infections continues.
“We will just wait for tomorrow about Victoria, but I think everything is looking very, very good, very positive,” she said.
However, Queensland’s border will remain shut to people from South Australia, as SA battles the Parafield outbreak in Adelaide’s north.
SA confirmed one new case on Tuesday. It is in a close contact of a recently returned traveller and not linked to the Adelaide outbreak.
That Queensland-SA border closure will be reviewed at the end of November.
“I think it’s great news in the lead-up to Christmas, but once again, it’s a
timely reminder for everybody – we need to make sure that we continue to keep up our social distancing. Our good hand hygiene as well. That is really important,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Queensland confirmed one new coronavirus infection on Tuesday, in a returned overseas traveller. Chief health officer Jeannette Young said more quarantine cases were expected as the virus surged globally.
NSW has not had a COVID-19 case with an unknown source since October 24, beating Queensland’s 28-day benchmark on borders.
On Tuesday, it confirmed its 17th day without local acquired infections.
However, there were six new COVID cases in people in hotel quarantine. That came amid reports that the NSW hotel quarantine program is stretched to breaking point, and that 169 security guards have been sacked.
NSW has taken the vast majority of overseas arrivals into quarantine, particularly with Victoria’s program out of action for several months during its second wave. Victoria will resume hotel quarantine from December 7.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her state’s hotel program was at capacity.
“But I’ve been saying that for months. We’ve been taking in 3000 people every week and we’ve welcomed back nearly 100,000 people,” she said.
There were currently 5000 people in Sydney hotel quarantine, she said.
“That’s why I’m saying to the other states – lift your game and do your bit.
“I’ve been saying for a long time … but touch wood – we haven’t an incident that resulted in community transmission. It’s a daily battle,” she said.
NSW opened its border to Victoria for the first time in four months on Monday.
Meanwhile, Victoria moved a step closer to officially eliminating the coronavirus on Tuesday, with confirmation its last COVID-19 patient had been discharged from hospital.
State health authorities said it was the first time since February 21 that Victorian hospitals had held no coronavirus patients.
Victoria also racked up its 26th day without new COVID infections or fatalities on Tuesday.