Queensland is set to reopen its borders to parts of New South Wales after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the state’s border bubble will soon include five additional local government areas.
From 1:00am on October 1, residents in Byron Bay, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes local government areas will be able to travel into Queensland.
It comes as the state recorded zero new coronavirus cases overnight, leaving just 16 active cases.
The extended border zone will include 41 New South Wales postcodes, spanning 11 local government areas.
« I think this is a great effort to consider how we can make our border zones more effective, » Ms Palaszczuk said.
« These areas have a lot in common with Queensland, they do a lot of their business in Queensland so we believe this is the right measure to take. »
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said there were 152,000 residents in the border zones who would now be able to travel into Queensland.
« These are people who might live in New South Wales, but many feel more of an affinity with Queensland, » Mr Miles said.
He said the changes were possible because of the very low number of coronavirus cases in regional New South Wales.
The move comes after weeks of sustained pressure from the New South Wales Premier and the Prime Minister to relax Queensland’s border measures.
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said if there continued to be very low or no new cases, further restrictions could be relaxed from Friday.
« Hopefully that will happen as we go into the weekend, and people in Brisbane and Ipswich will be able to gather in groups of 30, » Dr Young said.
Ms Palaszczuk said discussions were underway with businesses and community groups around further COVID-safe planning.
« At the end of the month we’ll also be looking at any other restrictions we can ease across Queensland, » she said.
Dr Young said authorities had also been testing sewage to ensure the virus was not circulating undetected.
« That gives us a heads up, and an idea of what’s going on in that community.
« We have not seen cases north of Sydney for quite some time and so it’s safe to open up those border areas. »
Dr Young said the response in Queensland following the latest cluster linked to corrective services had been markedly different to that of the first outbreak.
« Remember the first time we all got locked in our homes, and except for four reasons, we couldn’t leave, » Dr Young said.
« We didn’t need to do that this time because we’ve worked out how to live more safely with the virus. »
Dr Young said a trial to increase the density of seating at The Gabba stadium in Brisbane went « really well ».
Last night 200 volunteers were seated at 75 per cent capacity to test how well they stuck to COVID-safe planning.
If the trial is successful, 30,000 fans will be allowed to watch the AFL Grand Final at The Gabba.
Dr Young said she will soon receive a final report from Queensland Health with the outcome.
This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.
AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
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