Queensland will open its borders to quarantine-free travel for people from interstate COVID hotspots in a week – days ahead of its initial forecast.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the announcement on Monday.
“We will be bringing forward the opening date of our borders from December 17 to 1am Monday the 13th,” she said.
“Queensland borders will reopen, especially to those hotspots of NSW and Victoria and ACT.”
The change comes as Queensland closes in on 80 per cent of over-16s fully vaccinated.
As of Monday, it was at 87.37 per cent with one dose and 78.67 per cent of residents who had had both.
Ms Palaszczuk said the 80 per cent target would be reached some time this week, although it was impossible to predict exactly when.
She said Monday’s announcement was made to “provide everyone with certainty”.
“This is going to be a very, very special time of the year,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Monday.
“I know people have said to me personally, some of them haven’t seen their grandkids for the first time.”
The change applies to fully vaccinated interstate travellers, who will need to have a negative COVID test less than 72 hours before arriving in Queensland.
They will also require a second test on their fifth day in the state.
Vaccinated travellers can arrive by road or air.
Unvaccinated interstate arrivals can arrive only by plane, and must still complete 14 days in hotel quarantine.
Queensland Police commissioner Katarina Carroll urged travellers to make sure their paperwork was in order before they headed for the border – and for motorists to try to travel outside peak times.
“It’s a massive milestone for people,” she said.
“We’re expecting a lot of people to be travelling into Queensland. As a result, please, we are expecting extensive delays. So I need everyone to … plan ahead and pack their patience.”
Police will conduct random border checks at the state’s road borders.
In another change announced on Monday, residents of border bubble postcodes will be able to travel freely in and out of Queensland.
They will need a 14-day border pass, but will have no testing requirements.
Monday’s announcement came as Queensland reported three new virus cases in quarantine.
Two were from interstate and one from overseas.