Last weekend, the newly-relaunched Sydney Morning Herald travel section was filled with articles and full-page advertisements for holidays in Queensland. Just a few days later, on 29 July, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that she would close the state’s border to anyone from “greater Sydney” from 1am on Saturday, 1 August 2020.
Queensland reopened its border from 10 July to anybody that had not been in a designated COVID-19 hotspot in the past 14 days and obtained a Queensland Border Declaration Pass. Victoria was already declared a COVID-19 hotspot at this time, but people from NSW and other states & territories were free to enter Queensland.
Just four days later, on 14 July, the Campbelltown and Liverpool local government areas of Sydney were declared COVID-19 hotspots. This meant anybody that had been in these areas in the past 14 days were no longer permitted to enter Queensland. The Fairfield City council area was added to this list on 27 July. But from 1am on 1 August, all 34 local government areas in greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains and Central Coast) will be classified as designated hotspots. (You can see the full list on the Queensland government website.)
Residents of other parts of NSW will still be permitted to enter Queensland with a valid border pass – at least for now – provided they haven’t been to Sydney in the past 14 days. If catching a flight to Queensland, it is permitted to transit via Sydney as long as you don’t leave the confines of the airport. It is also permitted to travel by car through a designated hotspot en-route to Queensland, provided you “take the most practicable direct route through the COVID-19 hotspot and without exiting the vehicle except to deal with an emergency or as directed by police or transport authority”.
For regional NSW residents that are looking to fly to Queensland from somewhere other than Sydney, there are a few options. Qantas and Virgin both fly from Canberra to Brisbane, with Virgin also flying from Canberra to Gold Coast. Jetstar serves the Newcastle-Brisbane route, and QantasLink flies direct from Tamworth to Brisbane.
Queensland residents in Sydney will still be permitted to enter Queensland from Saturday, but will be required to quarantine in government-provided accommodation for 14 days at their own expense. Non-Queensland residents that have been in Sydney in the past 14 days will not be allowed in without an exemption.
Predictably, last-minute airfares from Sydney to destinations in Queensland increased dramatically after Wednesday’s announcement as people rushed to book tickets.
The frequent changes to state borders and interstate travel arrangements are a nightmare for travellers. It’s impossible to plan more than a few days in advance with things changing so quickly. It’s equally a nightmare for airlines and struggling tourism operators in Queensland.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Australian Reports of the Virus Spread