Motorists have been warned to plan their trips carefully and expect long delays at Queensland’s border checkpoints when they partially reopen next week.
Under the easing of restrictions from October 1, Queensland will extend its COVID-19 line of demarcation as far south as Casino, Lismore and Glen Innes, which allows free movement between states providing they have a border declaration pass.
The border relaxation will come during school holidays and ahead of the October long weekend.
Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said managing the state’s six checkpoints along the NSW-Qld border had its challenges and motorists should carefully plan their trip while also allowing for lengthy delays.
Even correctly displaying a border pass does not mean you will not be stopped at a checkpoint, he said.
“We need people to plan their trip accordingly, plan for extra time, because with the greater volume of traffic, of course, we ask people to be patient,” he said.
“We have constraints around the design of the roads, we have to bring two lanes into one at each of the checkpoints. That’s to make sure that we can properly scrutinise those vehicles … and it’s for the safety of the police.
“Random inspections will still continue, even if you turn up with a valid border pass being displayed.”
Australian Defence Force personnel will cease assisting in the manning at checkpoints on September 30 although Mr Wheeler said they had already made provisions for the army’s withdrawal.
He said SES, rural fire service and Department of Main Roads and Transport would be on hand to assist police from October 1.
“We’ve been planning for this scenario,” he said.
“We will ensure we’ve got those sufficient resources to get the job done.”
He said anyone who ventured beyond Lismore, Casino and Glen Innes would have entered a declared Queensland Health hot spot and would be required to fly back into Queensland and complete two weeks quarantine at their own expense.
Health Minister Steven Miles has said that extending the line of demarcation for border entry was a two-edged sword as people coming from NSW hot spots would be freely mingling with Queenslanders in places such as Byron Bay.
“It does create a risk,” he said.
“There will be people holidaying from Sydney in Byron Bay at the same time people from Queensland are visiting Byron Bay, and while that step is one removed, it is still a real risk.
“We will need to continue to monitor it closely.”