As a group from NSW are nabbed trying to sail their way through Queensland’s restricted border, police are preparing for a harder border closure,
As a group from NSW are nabbed trying to sail their way through Queensland’s restricted border, police are preparing for a harder border closure,

‘Very real prospect’ Qld will shut out all of Oz (again)

Four people have been caught trying to sail from Byron Bay to Cairns as fears of a hard Queensland border closure grow in border communities.

 

Maritime Safety Queensland intercepted the boat near the Gold Coast Seaway about midday on Friday.

Those on board had no exemptions or border declarations and were fined $4000 each, sent into mandatory hotel quarantine and their sail boat was impounded.

On land 129 people were refused entry at the Gold Coast border, with 125 people turned back at five checkpoints.

It comes as cross-border workers endure chaos and confusion over the state's latest lockout, police are preparing for the 'very real prospect' that the border could again be closed completely as it was in March near the start of the pandemic.

Sources say Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young's warning this week that border residents should be making contingency plans in case Queensland shuts out all of NSW is a sign that a hard closure is "definitely on the cards".

"Dr Young is very measured in what she says - her style is not to panic people," a police source said. "This (her border warning) may be the first punch that's coming from either a short distance or a longer distance."

The Palaszczuk government closed the border to NSW and the ACT last weekend, just four weeks after reopening Queensland to all states except COVID-ravaged Victoria.

A special "border zone" was created, allowing Tweed and Gold Coast locals to freely crisscross the state line for any purpose.

But travel is restricted to within the "bubble", meaning Tweed residents cannot venture further north than the Gold Coast and vice versa.

It has prevented workers including doctors, nurses and tradies from working outside the border zone, such as in Brisbane.

Gold Coast civic and business leaders, who met with senior police this week, are increasingly worried that the border could be shut "hard" as early as next week.

Meanwhile, Stradbroke Island's leading camping operator is not accepting bookings and will cancel or postpone existing bookings from visitors from eight southside postcodes - including inner-city suburbs like West End and South Brisbane.

CEO of the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation Cameron Costello told The Courier-Mail the decision was made to protect the vulnerable local community.

Economic modelling by peak business group, Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland, revealed the hard border closure fromMarch to July cost the tourism industry alone almost $17m a day.

"Everyone is very nervous," southern Gold Coast City councillor Gail O'Neill said.

Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce president Hilary Jacobs said the prospect of a hard border closure was a "massive concern" for the business community. She said she also did not believe that COVID-19 case numbers in Queensland or NSW justified it.

Originally published as 'Very real prospect' Qld will shut out all of Oz (again)