Qld border walls start to come down

Laine Clark |

Queensland’s border checkpoints are coming down, nearly two years after they were first set up.
Queensland’s border checkpoints are coming down, nearly two years after they were first set up.

Border checkpoints are being dismantled in Queensland with domestic travellers no longer required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Since 1am on Saturday, interstate visitors have been welcomed into Queensland regardless of where they have come from, without the need for a border pass or negative test.

With domestic border controls now lifted, Queensland Police have begun removing check points, drawing the curtain on an epic 471-day operation.

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 in Queensland would be completely gone by 5am on Sunday – and he doesn’t expect them to return.

“The vaccination rates here are high enough and hospital rates are so low compared to the case numbers so we are achieving our outcomes,” Mr Wildman said.

“The whole purpose of the borders was to provide time for our community to get used to and ready for this situation so the advice we have been given is that we won’t be back (at border checkpoints).”

Mr Wildman said the checkpoint closure would provide a healthy injection back into Queensland Police’s frontline ranks with almost 100 staff returning to Gold Coast operations alone.

Queensland 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 the shift 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.

Queensland’s latest figures show 91.41 per cent of those eligible have had one jab and 88.18 per cent have received two.

There were three deaths and 23,630 new virus cases announced on Friday with 589 people being treated for COVID-19 in hospital including 41 in intensive care and 15 on ventilation.

Since the checkpoints were first established in March 2020, 3.3 million border passes have been issued and almost 3.7 million cars have been intercepted, with 35,902 turned around and 20,247 people sent to quarantine.

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