Queensland has finally revealed when it is likely to open its borders to all of NSW.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Friday the drawbridge would be lowered to NSW residents from November 1, provided the state had no locally acquired virus cases before then.
That is the day after the Queensland election.
“We are looking very closely at NSW. We said very clearly that at the end of the month we review the plans, and that would mean there may be a possibility of opening up to NSW if there is no community transmission,” she said.
“Their health experts are also concerned about some undetected community transmission at the moment. So we will be watching that space very carefully.”
NSW has started well, reaching a milestone of seven days without community acquired infections on Friday.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was “ecstatic” at the border news. She and Ms Palaszczuk have traded barbs over their mutual borders for months.
“I would welcome that with open arms,” she said.
“I would’ve hoped it happened sooner but I can live with the first of November because it gives hope to our local residents.
“There’s no doubt NSW is well placed at the moment.”
There were lengthy queues at the Queensland border this week after the Sunshine State added residents in the Byron Shire, Ballina, the city of Lismore, Richmond Valley including Casino and Evans Head, Glen Innes and 41 other NSW postcodes to its border bubble.
For months, people from NSW coming to Queensland from outside the old border bubble have been required to quarantine for 14 days at their own expense.
There was also more good coronavirus news in Victoria on Friday, with just seven new infections confirmed.
The daily tally – the first under 10 since Monday – took Melbourne’s 14-day average of new infections down to 12.8.
In regional Victoria, where there have been no new cases for several days, it is just 0.2.
Melbourne’s mystery cases also fell to 14 – the city must have fewer than five for a fortnight before any of its current virus rules will be further relaxed.
There were also two more COVID fatalities, taking the Victorian toll from the pandemic to 802. They were a man and a woman in their 80s, both linked to aged care outbreaks.
Australia’s coronavirus toll is 890.
Daniel Andrews again urged Victorians to keep getting tested for the virus. Friday’s case numbers came from more than 12,000 tests.
“The performance in the last few days has been very good and I do genuinely thank, genuinely thank, every single person who has gone and got tested,” he said.
Mr Andrews also praised the management of Chadstone shopping centre, Melbourne’s biggest mall, where an outbreak that started with one worker has grown to 11 cases.
“Imagine for a moment what a normal Chadstone would have looked like if that sort of scenario had played out when we had literally, in the course of the day, hundreds of thousands of people moving through that setting,” he said.
“It is not safe to open up now. It will be soon when we have driven these numbers down even further.”
Elsewhere, Queensland will also shake up other coronavirus rules, allowing stand-up drinking in bars and restaurants and dancing at weddings.
“From 4pm today, in Queensland, will be happy hour,” Deputy Premier Steven Miles said on Friday.
“We’ll be able to again stand at the bar and have a drink, again stand at a restaurant or a cafe and have a snack.”
The changes are revealed in a “COVID-safe roadmap” released by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Friday. It outlines virus measures for the state into early 2021.
Also from November 1, 40 guests will be allowed to dance at Queensland weddings and people will be allowed to host up to 40 people in their own homes.
Ms Palaszczuk urged Queenslanders to be vigilant about social distancing as the virus rules relaxed.
Queensland had two more coronavirus cases on Friday. They are maritime crew members in their 20s and 30s who were due to depart a ship from Brisbane.
They are being treated in a Brisbane hospital.