Qld opening with NSW now in doubt

 

The much-anticipated opening of the Queensland border with neighbouring NSW is in doubt, after Australia's most populous state continues to uncover mystery cases of COVID-19.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk released her state's recovery plan earlier this month, which outlined how her state would ease further restrictions in three phases.

The road map aimed to give more certainty to the community and businesses through to the end of the year.

Under the road map, stage 4 commenced at 1am on October 1, 2020, adding five extra local government areas included in the declared border zone across northern NSW who could freely travel to the Sunshine State without needing to enter quarantine.

National Cabinet will push to open all domestic borders by Christmas. Picture: Steve Holland/NCA NewsWire
National Cabinet will push to open all domestic borders by Christmas. Picture: Steve Holland/NCA NewsWire

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Stage 5, however, was tipped to commence at 1am on November 1 with opening of the NSW border - allowing all visitors and returned travellers to enter the state without having to complete mandatory quarantine. The opening, however, was on the proviso of no community transmission cases in NSW for the preceding 28 days.

But given the daily number of locally acquired transmission cases NSW has recorded since October 7, there are question marks over that border plan.

Speaking in Cairns on Thursday, Ms Palaszczuk said the final decision on the NSW border would be made later this month, and would be based on the advice of chief health officer Jeannette Young who has been stringent on the 28-day transmission rule.

Deputy Premier and Health Minister Stephen Miles said the "live outbreaks" in NSW put the border reopening in doubt, but the final call would be up to Dr Young.

"That's twice what they had in the seven days before that. So there is still live outbreaks there," he said.

"There are still cases they are unable to link to existing clusters."

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said a decision on the NSW border opening will be made towards the end of the month. Picture: Dan Peled/NCA NewsWire
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said a decision on the NSW border opening will be made towards the end of the month. Picture: Dan Peled/NCA NewsWire

Ms Palaszczuk pointed to Friday's National Cabinet meeting as another step in the border decision-making process, which airline bosses are calling for a reopening by Christmas.

New research from the Business Council of Australia has revealed the country is losing a whopping $319 million a day in domestic and international air travel because of the border closures.

Since international border closures in March, the economic fallout from the shutdown of domestic aviation was $17 billion while the loss of international flights cost the economy $61 billion.

"State border closures have seen passenger numbers on Australia's busiest air routes plummet 91 per cent since March, crippling the aviation sector and causing harmful knock-on effects in tourism and hospitality,'' Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

The country is losing a whopping $319 million a day in domestic and international air travel because of the border closures. Picture: Nigel Hallett
The country is losing a whopping $319 million a day in domestic and international air travel because of the border closures. Picture: Nigel Hallett

"Every day flights remain grounded costs Australia $69 million - or $2.1 billion a month. When you add in international aviation losses at $250 million a day or $7.6 billion per month, we are talking about an enormous hit to our economy."

The BCA has called on the National Cabinet to announce a plan for domestic travel before December - to hopefully allow Australians to see interstate family by Christmas.

Reopening all state and territory borders would inject $3.3 billion into the economy, according to analysis.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and National Cabinet leaders will meet this morning to discuss the next steps in reopening Australia's economy, as well as hotel quarantine measures, mental health, aged care, the federal budget and the removal of social restrictions by Christmas.

Originally published as Qld opening with NSW now in doubt

The Queensland/NSW border decision rests on the shoulders of chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young. Picture: Dan Peled/NCA NewsWire
The Queensland/NSW border decision rests on the shoulders of chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young. Picture: Dan Peled/NCA NewsWire

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