The State Government has announced the Queensland border will close to all of NSW due to fears of COVID-19 cases creeping in from the southern state.
The whole of NSW will become a declared COVID-19 hotspot from 1.00am Friday, July 23, with the declaration to remain in place for at least four weeks.
However, border residents will be exempt, with a new border zone involving 17 Local Government Areas in NSW to be set up.
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The local government areas in the border zone include Ballina, Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Byron, Clarence Valley, Glen Innes Severn, Gwydir.
Inverell, Kyogle, Lismore, Moree Plains, Richmond Valley, Tenterfield, Tweed, Unincorporated Far West and Walgett have also been included.
Residents who live in the border zone will still need to apply for a border pass and will only be allowed to come into Queensland for limited reasons – including healthcare, work, education, essential shopping and caring for vulnerable people.
While Queensland residents will be able to travel into the NSW border zone for similar reasons, but will not be allowed to travel any further than the border zone.
Queensland residents can still return from ‘non-border zone’ locations in NSW, but they will be forced into 14 days in hotel quarantine.
It means road border checkpoints will return from 1.00am tomorrow, with motorists being warned to expect long delays.
“When we first implement this it does get very congested, it does get very difficult and we’re asking all of the community to work with us through this,” Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.
“Pack your patience, make sure you have the right passes, but realise once we implement this for a period until it settles we will see some congestion and delays, so please work through with us on that.”
The Premier said that by closing the border to all of NSW, it will now allow Queensland to ease further COVID-19 restrictions across the state.
“Density restrictions in South East Queensland will be eased to match current levels in the regions,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted.
As a result, home gatherings will increase from 30 people to 100 from 6am tomorrow, while weddings and funerals will be allowed to have 200 guests, up from 100.
There will no longer be a limit on outdoor gatherings, while restaurants, bars, cafes and pubs can return to the one-person-per-two-square-metre rule.
In a welcome move, visitors will finally be allowed to return to hospitals and aged and disability care facilities.
Queensland’s roadmap for easing restrictions has been updated. Here’s everything you need to know about the changes commencing Friday, 23 July 👇 pic.twitter.com/f1gVdebZsX
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) July 22, 2021
However, mask-wearing will remain in place for at least another seven days until 6am July 30 for people on the Gold Coast, Scenic Rim, Lockyer Valley, Logan City, Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Ipswich, Redlands, Sunshine Coast, Noosa and Somerset.
“Masks will now be required to be worn in all indoor seated, ticketed venues. This includes all stadiums, theatres and cinemas,” the Premier said.
Stadiums across the state with a capacity of 20,000 people or more will be also be required to reduce capacity to 75 per cent, and spectators will need to wear masks while seated unless eating or drinking.
Despite no new cases being recorded in Queensland, both locally and in hotel quarantine today, Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said the hard border closure is necessary for “a range of reasons”, including increasing numbers of infectious cases south of the border.
“Across the country we are seeing how much of a risk COVID-19 remains, especially the Delta variant,” Dr Young said.
“The current outbreak in NSW is particularly concerning.
“We understand these border restrictions are disruptive, but the health and safety of Queenslanders is a priority… spread of the Delta outbreak from New South Wales into Queensland would be far more disruptive,” Dr Young said.
More than 16,675 people came forward for testing across Queensland in the past 24 hours.