Queensland’s border wall to fall in days

Nick Gibbs |

The barricades on Queensland’s border that played a central role in preventing mass COVID-19 outbreaks before the vaccination drive will come down in a matter of days. 

As of 1am on Saturday, interstate travellers will be welcomed into Queensland regardless of where they are coming from, without the need for a border pass or negative test.

The move had originally been tied to a vaccination rate of 90 per cent, which the state is predicted to reach next week, but was brought forward in the wake of high case numbers across the eastern seaboard. 

Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said the border restrictions have “done their job” by giving Queenslanders an opportunity to get vaccinated before widespread community transmission.

“Now the virus … as expected is spreading through Queensland, but with a vaccinated population, so the job has been done and these borders are no longer required,” he said on Thursday.

The operation has required significant police resources since the first border checkpoint was established in March 2020, and the change will enable the force to “get back to business”, Commissioner Katarina Carroll said.

“I can’t take the smile off my face,” she said. 

“A sincere thank you to all of those officers out there, what a tremendous response.” 

Almost 3.7 million cars have been checked at the state’s borders over the past two years, with 35,902 turned around, and 20,247 people directed into quarantine. 

Close to 30,000 flights were met by police, and 1.8 million passengers were subjected to confirmation checks.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk thanked all the frontline border workers as she made the announcement on Thursday. 

“Their job has absolutely kept Queenslanders safe, but now is the time for the barricades to come down and for the police to come home,” she said.

Changes to international border restrictions will remain tied to the 90 per cent threshold, and the state will continue to enforce a vaccination-only policy for certain venues and events.

“We should assume that anyone travelling around Australia domestically could have the virus,” Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

“We are still wanting to make sure that only fully vaccinated people are entering those venues and those events that are more likely to see fast transmission.”

At least 88.18 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had two vaccination doses.