Australia

Queensland reports no new coronavirus cases as border operation creates highway havoc

Queensland has recorded zero new virus cases as tough new measures at the state’s border result in significant delays for drivers in the southeast.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said delays of up to an hour had eased since 9am and reinforced the message for residents not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

“These strict border measures are necessary, and they will be enforced.”

“NSW is currently in lockdown, there are stay-at-home provisions, so the movement needs to be minimal,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Monday.

The most significant delays were seen on the Gold Coast as police tighten controls in response to a statewide COVID-19 lockdown in NSW.

The past 24 hours has seen more than 600 cars turned around, compared to less than 100 per day last week, Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.

“The problem is people are turning up not sure what to do and not having the right exemptions (and) they’re getting turned around,” he told the Nine Network on Monday.

Scenes on the Gold Coast Highway at the Queensland and New South Wales border.

AAP

Queensland strengthened its border zone restrictions on Saturday, telling NSW residents they may only enter to obtain essential goods and services they can’t get otherwise.

Restrictions on workers entering from NSW have also been tightened to exclude teachers, childcare workers and construction workers on “non-critical” projects.

“It is a big operation but it’s for a very important purpose so we need people to work with us on this,” Mr Gollschewski said.

“The good news is we haven’t had to fine anyone, so mostly it’s people not understanding what’s required of them and, unfortunately, they’re getting turned around.”

Meanwhile, plans between the state and federal governments for a new 1,000-bed international quarantine facility near Brisbane Airport are progressing.

A memorandum of understanding calls for the site to be operational by mid-2022, The Australian reports.

The Commonwealth last month offered land currently occupied by the Damascus Barracks at Pinkenba for the hub.

Ms Palaszczuk said in July she would continue to push for a separate 1000-bed facility near Toowoomba, which together with arrangements at Pinkenba would allow the state to double its intake of returned travellers.

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