As of 1 am tomorrow, the 5 million residents of Greater Sydney will not be allowed to cross the border into Queensland until further notice, following the lockout of Victorian residents in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Tomorrow’s border closure comes after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declared all of Greater Sydney a COVID-19 hotspot on Wednesday, effectively closing the border to all SYD arrivals from 1 am on Saturday, August 1.
After 1 am tomorrow, any returning Queensland residents from Greater Sydney will have to isolate in a hotel for 14 days at their own expense and a cost of $2800 per adult.
It was only 3 weeks ago today, on July 10 that the Queensland border reopened to all states except Victoria, rejoicing that the state was “good to go” and kick-starting some much-needed domestic tourism again to the sunshine state in the height of the winter.
With no end date out on a second lock-out, the announcement has since sparked a rush to Queensland from returning QLD residents and New South Wales residents desiring to escape north.
On the roads
On the roads, police are warning of significant delays at border crossings with everyone including returning residents having to fill out a Queensland border declaration pass. Police will be checking motorists from NSW have not recently been to Sydney.
“I’m not making any apologies for those delays because our police have a very important job to do and I want to thank everybody for the work that they are doing on our borders to keep Queenslanders safe. There is nothing more important during this time.”
Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland Premier
In the air
Around 8000 people are expected to fly into Brisbane alone today as travellers and returning Queenslanders rush into the state before tomorrow’s lockout.
An additional 17 flights will take off from SYD to BNE today with a further 30 flights scheduled from SYD to Queensland cities including the Gold Coast, Cairns and the Sunshine Coast.
The cost of flights from SYD to BNE has skyrocketed since Wednesday’s announcement, with Virgin and Jetstar having sold out tickets on Sydney-Brisbane flights just a day later by Thursday.
For desperate Queenslanders looking to get home to Brisbane, the only remaining option on Wednesday from Sydney was a one-way fare through Qantas – at an eye-watering cost of $1600.
According to news.com.au, one-way Qantas flights from Sydney to Cairns on Wednesday night were priced from $1487 to $2073, on Thursday from $823 to $2130 and on Friday from $1180 to $2058.
Qantas ticket prices from Sydney to Cairns then dropped to $243 on Saturday, after the border closure comes into effect.
No doubt many travellers were using up credits owed from the airlines since the pandemic began.
Speaking to the ABC, Joseph Liu, who had planned to fly home at the weekend, had heard the warning.
“Try to get in there before the crazy stuff happens, you kind of get locked in here in NSW, so, unfortunately, I had to pay a bit extra and try to get on that flight.”
Mr Liu said he had visited numerous websites before he could book a flight and saw seats completely book out within minutes.
“It was ridiculous… It was going crazy,” he said.
Maybe next time he should book with a travel agent.
Queensland’s border closure to Greater Sydney and Victoria only brings more chaos and confusion for an already desperately struggling domestic travel industry.
The billion-dollar question now is how long we can continue to keep locking and re-locking down states and territories at the expense of the Australian economy having any chance of the momentum needed to restart it.
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