Queensland will remain off-limits to millions of Sydneysiders, after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk refused to bow to pressure to throw open her state’s borders.
However, in a major change, NSW residents from outside the 32 local government areas considered part of greater Sydney will be able to head to the Sunshine State from 1am on November 3.
Victorians also remained banned from entry to Queensland, despite this week’s end to Melbourne’s marathon lockdown.
“That is step one and it remains closed – and that is a strong border decision that we have made,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Friday.
She repeated her assertion that the latest calls on Queensland border were made on the advice of chief health officer Jeannette Young.
Dr Young said Sydney’s ongoing community transmission remained a concern. She said four Sydney LGAs still had cases that could not be linked to known outbreaks – “which means that they have transmission and they don’t know where it is coming from” – and continued to put out alerts for Sydney sites.
“One unlinked case means that there is a problem in that community,” she said.
NSW had no virus cases from community transmission on Friday. It has confirmed an infection in a child that was reported after its 8pm Thursday cut-off that will be included in Saturday’s figures.
Dr Young said she was not prepared to predict when Queensland might be open to people from Sydney.
“You asking me to look into a crystal ball. I genuinely do not know – it depends what happens with the virus,” she said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who has been at loggerheads with Ms Palaszczuk about the border for months, said earlier that Queensland’s standards for resuming travel between the states were too high.
“I’m disappointed … It’s extremely unfair and lacks logic and common sense to continue to lump NSW with Victoria – our states have taken very different paths,” Ms Berejiklian said on Friday.
She said NSW had proved itself capable of managing the virus and the state’s sustained, low number of daily cases was proof of that.
She said she suspected Queensland and Western Australia’s premiers were making decisions based on elections, not health advice.
“If there were health concerns I’d be the first to say I understand your position,” she said.
“But the lengths that those premiers have gone to is beyond the realm of logic and unfortunately it’s hurting families, it’s hurting individuals, it’s hurting businesses.”
Queensland’s borders have become a major issue in Saturday’s state election. LNP leader Deb Frecklington had initially said she would open the borders if she won the election, but said this week she would also be guided by Dr Young’s advice.
Ms Berejiklian’s criticism came as she defended her own decision to keep NSW closed to Victoria.
She said NSW would wait at least two weeks to see how Victoria dealt with the inevitable outbreaks as its restrictions eased, and refused to guarantee NSW would reopen to Victoria by Christmas.
“We will know after two weeks once restrictions are eased what Victoria’s situation is,” she said.
“We don’t want to have the border shut to Victorians one day longer than it has to.”
Dr Young said Victoria was doing a good job of ending its devastating second wave of the coronavirus.
“But we now have to see what happens when they open up because they were getting on top of those cases while everyone was at home,” she said.
“Hopefully they now have all their systems in place and are doing a lot of testing. They have much more contact tracing ability so the next stage will be to look at how they progress.”
Victoria reported four more COVID cases on Friday. Two are “low positives” that remain under investigation, while the others are being investigated for their links to known Melbourne clusters.
Queensland has just six active cases. That includes one new one confirmed on Friday in a man in his 50s who had recently returned from Stockholm. He is in hospital on the Gold Coast.