Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young backs the decision not to open the state's borders. Image by Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS


Qld borders may stay shut beyond September

2020-05-21 15:02:33

Queensland’s struggling economy has been struck another blow with warnings the borders may remain closed beyond September amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections.

NSW and Victoria recorded 11 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with most the result of community transmission.

It’s prompted Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young to again back the government’s decision not to allow outsiders in to the Sunshine State, where infections rose by one overnight.

This is despite pressure for a relaxation of border rules from the tourism industry, which has been bleeding money during the lockdown period.

“We need to hold firm and we need to manage our domestic borders very, very carefully,” Dr Young told reporters.

Dr Young said there is a slight chance the borders may open within two months, but that was unlikely.

“The very, very earliest, and only if everything went absolutely perfectly, we might be able to think about opening up our border in July,” she said.

“If the tourism industry wants a more realistic scenario they should be preparing for September.”

However, Dr Young was quick to qualify this was not set in stone.

“I can’t even commit that September will be possible,” she said.

“It depends what happens between now and then.”

Travel restrictions within Queensland are slowly being eased, with trips of up to 150km now allowed.

Transport Minister Mark Bailey says there are no plans to limit capacity on buses, trains and ferries, with extra cleaning and cashless payment systems used to stop the spread of the virus.

Health authorities are undertaking contact tracing after a woman in her 70s tested positive overnight.

They believe she likely contracted the virus during a trip to India, but are investigating whether any community transmission had occurred since her return to Australia two months ago.

It takes the total cases in the state to 1058, with 12 still active.

The new case comes as the state spends billions of dollars to revive its ailing economy and get people back to work following the lockdown.

The stimulus package – including $400 million for roads, bridges and footpaths and $50 million for tourism infrastructure – was announced in parliament on Tuesday.

The cash splash comes after official figures revealed 129,000 Queenslanders lost their jobs last month as the pandemic choked the economy.