Queensland’s Health Minister has defended a decision to shut the state’s border this week after 21 new coronavirus cases in the past month.
Queensland will close its border with NSW and ban ACT residents from 1am on Saturday.
Residents returning after then will have to complete 14 days hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Road access will be blocked to Queensland to all vehicles except those from border communities, with a list of exempt postcodes to be released in coming days.
Queensland police said on Thursday there had been a rush of people crossing from NSW and extra flights into Brisbane ahead of Saturday’s closure.
“We have seen every time we have gone to a new border declaration pass system or we have changed any of our directions, that there is a period of adjustment,” Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.
“That period of adjustment usually relates into longer delays, longer traffic jams. We can expect that to happen again.”
Health Minister Steven Miles said NSW had done a good job of managing its COVID cases but escalating numbers in Victoria prompted the lockdown.
Queensland has just 11 active COVID cases.
Investigations are continuing into the state’s only new infection on Wednesday after follow-up testing returned a negative result.
The 68-year-old Ipswich woman was the state’s third locally acquired case in the past week.
But Victoria’s escalating infections showed how one case of community transmission could quickly lead to dozens “if not hundreds”, Dr Miles told ABC radio on Thursday.
The decision to reimpose a hard border lockdown was based on the medical advice of the state’s chief health officer, he said.
The decision came after Queensland police charged more than a dozen people caught allegedly sneaking back into the state from coronavirus hotspots.
Mr Miles claimed people from NSW hotspots were travelling to Canberra to get around quarantine restrictions. But he later admitted that only one man stood accused of abusing the loophole.
Neither NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian nor ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr were informed of the shutdown before Wednesday’s announcement.
Businesses also expressed their surprise at the lockdown, which comes less than a month after Queensland reopened its borders on July 10.
Accommodation Association chief executive Dean Long said the decision had come without warning and would lead to job losses across the tourism industry.
“The closing of Queensland’s border to the whole of NSW and the ACT when there have been just 21 cases in total over the past month, less than one case a day, is extremely disappointing,” he said on Wednesday.
An estimated 10,000 beds pre-booked for August would be lost across its member hotels and motels.
Queensland’s border closures will be reviewed at the end of August.