Virus cases low as states clash on borders

Border closures have sparked fresh tensions between state governments after the end of Brisbane’s mini-lockdown led to more travel restriction tweaks.

A snap shutdown ended on Monday night after three days aimed at stopping a highly contagious coronavirus strain in its tracks.

The Northern Territory and ACT have given a green light for residents to return from Greater Brisbane, lifting quarantine requirements for people who had visited the city.


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But Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan is keeping his state’s border closed to Queensland until authorities are certain there is no community spread of the virus.

Victoria has announced a traffic light system for anyone wanting to visit the state, with all areas of Australia colour-coded as either red, orange or green depending on risk of the virus.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox is concerned about a “race to the bottom” with states trying to copy or outdo Victoria.

“Now that Victoria has established a permit system to enter the state we have a permanent Checkpoint Charlie established at its borders,” he said.

“The way this is heading we may ultimately need a special domestic passport to get around the country.”

Mr Willox believes the virus should be suppressed rather than eliminated, preferring the NSW approach to states like WA.

“While a nationally consistent approach to hot spot definitions and lockdown triggers would be desirable, the chasm between the states looks unbreachable with some states adopting total elimination strategies,” he said.

“Total elimination strategies only serve to crush and kill business investment and job creation.”

Mr McGowan makes no apology for his cautious handling of the situation.

“If we make a mistake and the virus comes in, well, then no-one will thank us. Everyone will say: ‘Why did you do that’,” he told reporters in Perth.

There remains no nationally consistent protocols on borders and hotspots.

While there was no new community transmission in Queensland, NSW announced five new local coronavirus infections on Monday, three linked to the Berala cluster.

In Brisbane, face masks will remain mandatory in indoor public venues for the next 10 days after a cleaner at a quarantine hotel was diagnosed with the UK virus strain last week.

© AAP 2021