Victorians have had an official invitation from Queensland to “come on up”, with the southern state posting yet another day free of coronavirus infections and fatalities.
Just moments after Victorian health authorities confirmed the state’s 26th virus-free day in a row on Wednesday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stood up to say her state’s borders would open to its southern near-neighbours from December 1.
The move had been signalled on Tuesday, when Ms Palaszczuk said Queensland’s oft-criticised border ban on Sydneysiders would also end on December 1.
“That’s wonderful news,” she said of Victoria’s latest “double doughnut” day.
“Can I congratulate [Victorian Premier] Daniel Andrews, their chief health officer and all of Victorians because this is just such fantastic news.
“It means on 1 December, Victorians can also come to Queensland and, of course, Queenslanders can go to Victoria as well.”
Airlines reported a jump in demand for flights after Tuesday’s announcement about the NSW border. Ms Palaszczuk said accommodation operators across Queensland had also already seen a spike in demand.
“Is my state prepared for this? We’re absolutely prepared for the influx of people for the Queensland holidays,” she said.
“When I went to Hervey Bay during the election campaign, it was hard to get accommodation because people were actually supporting our local tourism industry.
“If you go out west, they were booked out. They’re telling me next year when it comes to Easter, they actually need more accommodation.”
But she also sounded a warning for Australia’s international borders, as states continue to ease tough border rules introduced to help control the spread of the pandemic.
“The last thing we want to see to put Australians at risk is for a wholesale opening of our international borders. That would be catastrophic,” she said.
With third waves of the virus devastating parts of Europe and the US, Ms Palaszczuk said it was important that Australia’s hotel quarantine program was improved.
Victoria’s devastating second wave and the recent South Australian outbreak both originated in hotel quarantine.
“I absolutely support Australians returning home, but in terms of international visitors – and this is a really important point because you just watch the federal government very closely – I don’t want to see a situation where we see our international borders open up too soon, too quickly and puts everything that we have done as a nation at risk,” she said.