Police at the Queensland border at Tweed Heads. Picture: Richard Gosling
Police at the Queensland border at Tweed Heads. Picture: Richard Gosling

Almost 50 Victorians turned back from Qld border

DOZENS of Victorians have been turned away from border checkpoints on the Gold Coast as Queensland battles to keep the COVID pandemic at bay.

By late yesterday - 30 hours since border restrictions on interstate travel were eased, police manning checkpoints at Coolangatta and Tugun had turned back 46 people attempting to enter Queensland who were suspected of having been in Victorian hot spots in the past 14 days. It comes as Queensland recorded two new cases overnight, both from international arrivals.

South of the border, NSW officials and residents are bracing for their own second wave of the virus, with Health Minister Brad Hazzard confirming ICU beds have been tripled, testing kit stocks increased and warning people to wear masks if they can't social distance.

Victoria recorded 216 new cases and a 90-year-old with the virus died.

As Victoria struggles to contain the virus, its government has called for those who expose others to the virus to face jail time or substantial fines.

Gold Coast Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said it was too early to know whether the numbers of Victorians attempting to sneak into Queensland would to rise or fall in the coming days.

"We're watching this really closely," he said. "It's only been two days, so after a week that will give us a better idea."

He said police had turned away travellers who were unable to provide evidence that they had not been in Victorian hot spots in the past two weeks.

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said spikes in coronavirus cases interstate were always going to be a concern, and called on Queenslanders to stay the course on measures such as social distancing and sanitation. "We're not out of the woods," she said.

"Queenslanders have led the way in Australia, (but) we need to continue to be vigilant.

"That is why we have gone so strong and so tough and that's why Queensland is looking at reopening its economy while Victorians are closing the state down."

Wait times at the Queensland state border had decreased by Saturday, with queue times of about 10 minutes. Picture: Richard Gosling
Wait times at the Queensland state border had decreased by Saturday, with queue times of about 10 minutes. Picture: Richard Gosling

Otherwise, border crossings were flowing relatively smoothly yesterday, with some motorists reporting queue times of just 10 minutes.

The arrival of interstate visitors has already been a boon for Queensland's crippled tourism industry, with many operators reporting phenomenal bookings since the border was reopened on Friday.

The southern Gold Coast was bustling yesterday with crowds flocking to parks, beaches, cafes, restaurants and bars.

Flights arriving from interstate have been operating at more than 90 per cent capacity over the past two days.


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