Thousands of people have flocked to Queensland after the Sunshine State reopened its borders. Image by Albert Perez/AAP PHOTOS


Tourists pour into Qld as border reopens

2020-07-11 15:57:46

Thousands of travellers are pouring into Queensland by road and plane as the state flings open its borders to everyone but those coming from Victoria.

Warmer weather and pristine beaches have lured holiday makers to the Sunshine State amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Border closures in place since March 25 were finally peeled back at midday on Friday. 

Afternoon traffic was backed up for about 12km on the M1 heading toward the southern border, Ben Mihan from the Australian Traffic Network said.

Gold Coast border checkpoints were also congested, along with an inland traffic build-up on the Newell Highway and near the border town of Goondiwindi. 

Travellers were advised to pack food and water with major delays expected across the weekend after almost 314,000 people downloaded passes needed to cross the border. 

Families from NSW are expected to form a large part of the tourism influx for the final week of school holidays. 

The money they and other visitors spend will be welcome relief for tourism operators and the hospitality sector, which have taken an economic hit during the border lockdown.

Domestic travel has picked up in the past week, Griffith St Larder owner Kylie Bastos says, but venues are ready for what they hope will be 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.”

However, the ban on anyone travelling from coronavirus-hit Victoria will remain indefinitely, unless they can prove they’ve spent two weeks elsewhere before trying to enter Queensland.

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

Queensland’s airports have also experienced an influx of arrivals.

Nine flights carrying 860 passengers arrived before noon, with another 3147 passengers to disembark from another 25 flights over the rest of the day. 

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.

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

Anyone who experiences symptoms within two weeks of their arrival in Queensland must get tested or face a $4004 fine.

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