The Queensland government will restart hotel quarantine for Queenslanders stranded interstate from Saturday, but the program will remain closed for residents of NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been under fire for her snap decision last Wednesday to pause the domestic hotel quarantine program for two weeks.
A number of Queenslanders were caught out by the move, which the government said would reduce pressure on the system, and unable to get home from other states.
On Wednesday, Ms Palaszczuk said enough people had since completed hotel quarantine and vacated rooms to allow the government to restart the program from Saturday.
“As of Saturday, Queensland residents can begin returning from interstate hotspots into hotel quarantine in Queensland,” she told parliament.
“The pause on intake has only just begun, numbers in our quarantine hotels have only slightly eased so we can offer places to 50 as a start but we will add more places as rooms become available.”
Queensland will continue its pause on other arrivals from NSW, Victoria and the ACT until at least September 8.
There was an uproar on Tuesday after a charter flight of 100 NRL players’ families and league officials arrived in the state from Sydney earlier this week.
Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli lambasted the government over the “double-standard” in parliament on Tuesday.
“People love their footy, they love the NRL, they want to see life get back to normal,” he said.
“But if there is room for sporting families, there is room for Queensland families.”
Ms Palaszczuk has distanced herself from the NRL exemptions, saying decisions were made by chief health officer Jeannette Young.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday that Queensland had to bring in home quarantine to deal with a shortage of hotel quarantine rooms.
“Home quarantine means there’d be [quarantine] places for all Australians, for all Queenslanders,” he told 4BC Radio.
Ms Palaszczuk has ruled out a trial of home quarantine arrangements until the government sees the results of the SA trial.
She again vowed to press on with a state government plan for a 1000-bed quarantine facility outside Toowoomba, saying it will be open well before the federal government’s 800-bed centre in Brisbane.
Queensland’s road borders with NSW are also closed to all but essential workers who have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said NSW had rejected a proposal to shift border checkpoints south to temporarily include the town of Tweed Heads within Queensland.
However, he said talks were ongoing to make border crossings smoother for those allowed to cross into Queensland and he hoped the current lockdown would ease in regional NSW, which could ease border restrictions.
“We’re trying to improve that now. We will try to, well we will, keep the dialogue going with NSW around how we can fix those things as we go forward,” he told Nine Network on Wednesday.
“But as I said all through this a pandemic, things change, things start to turn and when it gets to the point where northern NSW is coming out of lockdown, of course, our chief health officer will look at what does that mean in terms of restrictions that are currently in place and whether they can change or not.”