Anyone caught trying to cross the border into Queensland, without a legitimate reason, is being warned they could cop a fine of more than $13,000 under tough new border restrictions.
The restrictions, which apply to all travel to Queensland by air, sea, rail and road, officially come into place at midnight tonight.
We’re being warned to brace for long delays and are being urged to avoid all “non-essential” cross-border travel.
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“Anyone trying to enter Queensland particularly by road on the Gold Coast can expect significant delays from tonight,” State Disaster Coordinator Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said at a press conference a short time ago.
“We will aim to prioritise essential food, supplies and services. The community can help us by not trying to cross the border unless their travel is absolutely essential.”
Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski says the message is clear: “Do not try and enter unless you have a need to”.
“Every car that’s coming across the border will be subject to scrutiny… Anyone that doesn’t have an exemption will be stopped,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski warned.
There will be exemptions for people who need to cross the border, including national and state security, essential health services, emergency services, transport of goods or freight including food, critical maintenance and repair to critical infrastructure, and mining, energy and agribusiness.
Other people who will also be allowed to cross the border include carers and relatives of dependent people, those who need to obtain essential medical treatment including visiting terminally ill relatives, those who are interstate boarding school students, and those who are required to comply with the law for family court, parole and bail conditions.
FIFO workers in commercial construction, fishing, mining, energy or agribusiness industries will also be exempt, along with people who live outside Queensland but near the border who work or study in Queensland.
Police say they are currently working on an “identifier”, understood to be a visible sticker, for vehicles who regularly need to cross the Tweed, Gold Coast border so that they will not have to be stopped every time.
However, this will not be in place tonight, and officers are warning motorists to expect long delays if they need to cross the border.
“The exemptions to cross the border will take some time to implement and is expected to take a few days,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.
An online application and exemption system, including a help line, is currently being developed, however won’t be ready in time for tonight’s border lockdown.
“We will have work arounds in place tonight but that could contribute to delays,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski warned.
“Once an exemption is granted, you will not need to re-apply. In the meantime, please be patient.”
When asked how long these strict measures were going to remain in place for, Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski revealed it could be months.
“We think we can sustain this for as long as we need to… We are planning for months of this, not for a couple of weeks. For as long as up to six months if that’s what’s required,” he said.
“We understand that people will be inconvenienced but these restrictions are being implemented to slow the spread of novel coronavirus.
“It is about minimising the risk to the Queensland community posed by COVID-19”.
Anyone who arrives in Queensland from another state or territory from 12.01am tomorrow must self-isolate for 14 days unless they are an exempt person.
“If a person does not comply with quarantine directions, penalties of up to $13,345 for individuals and $66,672.50 for corporations can also apply,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski warned.
From midnight tonight, the following roads will also be closed to deter people from travelling across the border.
• Nerang-Murwillumbah Road at Springbrook
• Tomewin Mountain Road at Currumbin Valley
• Kent Street at intersection with Toolan Street at Coolangatta
• Dixon Street roundabout with no access to Queensland from Charles Street to Florence Street at Coolangatta
• Dixon Street at intersection with Bay Street at Coolangatta
• Miles Street at Coolangatta opposite Len Peak Oval.