Queensland will require anyone entering from northern NSW to complete a border pass, as fears grow about the spread of Sydney’s COVID cluster during the school holidays.
“Because of the school holidays and the NSW outbreak, the Sydney outbreak, we will be requiring those border declaration passes for everyone who crosses the border for the period of this NSW outbreak,” Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.
“These passes last for 14 days. So, for people who come and go across the border regularly, they will only need to apply for a pass every 14 days.
“Let’s hope that the NSW outbreak can be contained within 14 or 28 days.”
The change will apply from 1am Monday. It came after Sydney’s coronavirus outbreak grew to 36 cases on Thursday – and cross the border to Victoria, with two infections in Melbourne.
On Thursday, Queensland police turned around 186 people who attempted to enter the state on a plane from an interstate hotspot, in breach of current travel restrictions.
A total of 130 people were sent into hotel quarantine.
Also on Friday, Queensland confirmed two more community infections, both linked to the cluster centred on Brisbane’s Portuguese Family Centre.
That outbreak – sparked by a visit from a flight attendant who picked up the virus in hotel quarantine – has grown to seven cases. It is the third outbreak in Brisbane this year linked to transmission in hotel quarantine.
Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said both of the latest cases had been in isolation during their infectious periods.
Elsewhere, Mr Miles said the state government was considering a federal proposal for a mass COVID-19 quarantine facility near Brisbane Airport.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has offered to pay for the 1000-bed facility on the site of the Damascus Barracks at Pinkenba.
Under the proposal, the state government would build and operate the hub.
Mr Miles said there was little detail about the proposal.
“The only detail in the letter is an address,” he said.
“I just note that when Queensland provided a 15-page early proposal [for quarantine at Toowoomba] we were told that was far too little detail.”
The Damascus Barracks is mainly used for storage, rather than being a traditional Australian Defence Force operating base.
Mr Morrison’s office is keen on the site as it’s close to Brisbane’s international airport. It’s also near three major hospitals that could treat and isolate COVID-19 cases.
If the two governments can strike a deal, the new facility would be operating by early 2022.
Also on Friday, the federal government confirmed it would back a Victorian plan for a quarantine hub near Melbourne Airport. It is expected to be operating by the end of 2021.