Time is ticking for Queenslanders to return home from Melbourne, or face spending 14 days in self-paid hotel quarantine.
From midday, Queensland border restrictions will ease for residents, but because of the current community transmission levels in Victoria – borders will remain closed and strengthened to those coming from the Garden State.
But the race to get back to Queensland has been on since Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced stage 3 restrictions would come into place from today.
As part of the strengthened border measures on Victorians, any person (whether a Queensland resident or non-Queensland resident) who has been in any local government area within the State of Victoria within the last 14 days should not come to Queensland. If they return after midday on July 3, 2020, it’ll cost big dollars to the tune of at least $200 per night in mandatory quarantine in a hotel for a minimum of 14 days.
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The new restrictions have seen a surge in flight bookings, with all Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar flights from Melbourne to all airports in Queensland on Friday morning currently booked out.
A spokesperson for Virgin Australia said the airline had seen a surge in flight bookings given the restrictions starting at noon.
“Our flights yesterday and this morning were full,” the statement read.
Speaking to ABC Radio Brisbane earlier this week, Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the residents had been given plenty of time to return to the Sunshine State. He said the reason they too will be forced into hotel quarantine from midday today is because the government had noticed a lack of compliance with isolating at home.
“We found that compliance with people isolating at home has diminished over time,” Mr Miles said.
“We do random checks at various points during those quarantine periods and the experience from Victoria has been that a number of their cases have come from people who have meant to be quarantined and failed to do so.”
Mr Miles said that return travellers from today will be “footing the bill”, and had received plenty of time to return from Victoria before the strengthened measures came into place.
“It was time for Queensland taxpayers to stop footing the bill of that quarantine,” he said.
“We really hope that (cost) serves as a deterrent so that people know they’ll not only have to quarantine but they’ll have to pay the costs of that quarantine, that will stop people breaching these restrictions we’ve put in place.
“The risk from people who’ve travelled through these parts of Melbourne are quite high and so we need to treat them as we earlier on treated people who came from overseas.”
In addition to mandatory quarantine, the Queensland Government will implement enhanced border control measures, including border passes and identification.
From next Friday – 10 July 2020 – any person from New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory may enter Queensland subject to completing and signing a border declaration.
If anyone has spent time in any local government area in Victoria during the past 14 days, they will be subject to mandatory hotel quarantine. Ms Palaszczuk says penalties of around $4000 apply for false statements.
It is understood that all flights into Queensland will be checked and road vehicle borders will be enforced. A person who refuses testing in quarantine will be subject to a further 10-day period at cost.