Long traffic jams as Queensland border reopens to all except Victorians

Jul 10, 2020

By SBS Australia 

Travellers heading to Queensland are stuck in traffic jams for kilometres ahead of the state opening to everyone but those coming from Victoria.

Traffic is almost at a standstill for about six kilometres on the M1 heading towards the Queensland border, says Chris Hull from the Australian Traffic Network.

It is also backed up for about two kilometres on the Gold Coast Highway.

There is an inland build-up of traffic on the New England Highway heading towards Queensland and near the border town of Goondiwindi, Mr Hull told AAP.

Police have told travellers to pack food and water, and that traffic could bank up for 20km at major checkpoints.

Almost 314,000 people have downloaded passes to pour into the Sunshine State now that borders are open.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the ban on people travelling from coronavirus-hit Victoria, unless they can prove they've spent two weeks elsewhere before trying to enter Queensland, is indefinite.

"As long as it takes," she told Nine's Today program on Friday, when asked how long Victoria would remain on Queensland's banned list.

"I hate to say that, but it's as long as it takes until the community transmission there is under control."

Police have told travellers making a beeline for the border to expect major delays over the next 72 hours.

"We anticipate extensive delays at the major checkpoints. These delays could be more than a couple of hours, with queues potentially up to 20km long," Tweed Byron Police Commander, Superintendent Dave Roptell, has told The Gold Coast Bulletin.

NSW school holiday-makers are expected to form a large part of the influx of tourists.

Some northern and western NSW towns have reported logjams of caravaners waiting for Queensland's border to open.

The money the visitors spend will be welcome relief for tourism operators and the hospitality sector, which have suffered huge economic losses during the 15-week border lockdown.

Fridges are stocked and staff are at the ready for customers to arrive from across the border.

Domestic tourism has picked up in the past week, Griffith St Larder owner Kylie Bastos says, but venues are ready for what they hope will be a massive weekend trade.

"For us to be able to have our local base come back easily would be a real pleasure," she said.

"It's been really tough. I have staff that live across the border and half of our customer base lives across the border so it has majorly affected us.

"To be able to have some tourism for the last week of the school holidays will be fantastic."

Queensland's airports are also preparing for an influx of arrivals, but travellers will not be allowed to leave terminal buildings until restrictions officially ease at midday.

Some flights have been delayed to help avoid passenger traffic jams.

Virgin Australia has launched a major sale, offering more than half a million discount fares to Queensland destinations including Brisbane, Cairns, the Gold Coast, Hamilton Island and Townsville.

All arrivals into Queensland must hold a valid border pass, including residents returning to their home state.

Queensland has only two active coronavirus cases and there's no evidence of community transition, the state's chief health officer Jeannette Young said on Friday.

"I think we all need to commit that if any of us get any symptoms that we just immediately get tested, do our best to maintain social distancing and that at this point in time, that we don't go down to Victoria or overseas," she has told ABC radio.

Victoria has more than 3000 cases, after days of triple-digit increases.

NSW meanwhile recorded 13 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday - all of which are in hotel quarantine - from more than 18,500 tests.

Health authorities also confirmed a third case on the NSW-Victoria border town of Albury linked to two previous cases in the regional city. The case is connected to two family members who tested positive to COVID-19 in Albury earlier in the week.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is on Friday expected to consider charging Australians returning from overseas for their two-week hotel quarantine.

Earlier in the week, she flagged the matter would be raised at Friday's national cabinet meeting.

It comes as the premier has warned that the Victorian COVID-19 outbreak is a wake-up call and everyone should be "in a state of high alert".

The post about “Long traffic jams as Queensland border reopens to all except Victorians" first appeared on the SBS Australia website.

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