Queensland’s border barriers begin to fall

Laine Clark |

Check points are already being scaled down by Queensland Police as the state prepares to officially remove its border barricades.

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 state was initially set to dump all border controls when it hit a COVID-19 vaccination rate of 90 per cent – a target expected to be achieved next week.

But it has been brought forward with the Omicron variant already widespread in the community and 90 per cent of eligible Queenslanders to be double-jabbed in the coming days.

Gold Coast District Acting Chief Superintendent Rhys Wildman said the barricades that played a central role in preventing COVID-19 outbreaks as vaccination rates rose would be completely gone by Sunday morning.

“We are already starting to remove some infrastructure out of those checkpoints,” he told reporters on Friday.

“Our intention is all the infrastructure will be removed by 5am on Sunday.

“The only remnants left will be some flattened garden beds which will have to be fixed up by the council.”

Mr Wildman paid tribute to everyone who had helped make the border checkpoints a success since they were first established in March 2020, before revealing the 22 month operation’s “incredible statistics”.

“This has been an extremely challenging time,” he said of the 471-day life of the border barriers.

“There’s only two times in history that the New South Wales-Queensland border has been closed and that was in 1918 with the Spanish ‘flu and from 2020-22 with COVID-19.”

Over the past two years, 3.3 million border passes have been issued and almost 3.7 million cars have been checked at the state’s borders 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.

At the Gold Coast airport alone, 532,000 travellers have been intercepted from 5000 flights, with 10,000 sent to hotel quarantine and another 3500 turned around.

Overall there were 818 fines and arrests, 3571 individual investigations, 61 changes to border rules and 192,000 police hours spent managing checkpoints.

“It’s been an amazing experience for us to get to this stage. We are thankful to the community for all the support they have shown us,” Mr Wildman said.