Restrictions will be eased along the Queensland-NSW border from Monday – but there is a catch.
Students and essential workers will be allowed into Queensland from Monday but local residents will remain trapped on either side of the border after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a slight easing of restrictions.
Ms Palaszczuk’s easing of restrictions comes as NSW recalled its lockdown in the Tweed Shire from 12.01am on Saturday after the area recorded no new Covid cases for at least 14 days.
The recall also includes Kyogle, Tenterfield and Moree Plains across the river from Goondiwindi.
Queensland closed its borders to all NSW residents on July 23, except for a very limited number of essential workers.
The hard closure has sparked fierce protests along the Coolangatta -Tweed Heads border where traffic barriers have been placed as the line of demarcation between the two states.
Even the army was called in to assist Queensland police to monitor checkpoints at state crossings with every vehicle stopped to ensure all passengers comply with the tough entry requirements.
But Ms Palaszczuk said restrictions would be wound back to prior to the hard lockdown for 12 LGA areas in NSW where restrictions are being lifted.
“Students and essential workers will be able to travel from the 12 LGAs, where restrictions have eased, into Queensland,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“That will come into effect 1am Monday morning.”
Chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said travel into Queensland was dependant on anyone crossing into the state having not been visited by anyone from any current ‘lockdown’ areas in the past 14 days.
It was also incumbent on any essential worker travelling in either direction having had least one vaccine jab.
“It is really good news for those border communities,” Ms Young said.
“It’s going back to the setting before we had to put those tighter restrictions in place.
“Anyone who needs to cross the border to work because they can’t reasonably work from home will need to have had at least one dose of the vaccine and that applies both ways.
“It is really important that those people in NSW have not had visitors from any lockdown areas in the prior 14 days.”
The arrangements allow travel for essential shopping for health care, to care for someone who is vulnerable, essential work and to attend school.
Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the easing of restrictions would not mean an easing of their policing of vehicles entering the state.
He urged anyone crossing the border to have the correct paperwork to prove they have not been in a hotspot and were an eligible worker who had at least one vaccine dose.
“People need to understand what the requirements are before they come across,” he said.
“What we don’t want to see, is we are pulling out people with the wrong passes and unable to come across.
“They can expect up to 100 per cent checking of the vehicles that do come through our borders.”
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said border residents would be relieved with now being able to access work, schools and businesses.
“This will make a difference for those communities who have done it hard. We know how seamless and invisible that border is but unfortunately communities do get impacted at times when borders are closed,” he said.