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Border communities brace for latest Queensland lockdown

In a separate matter, a 22-year-old man from the Cape York Peninsula town of Weipa was fined after being stopped at Cairns Airport on Tuesday.

It will be alleged the man flew into Queensland from Canberra and failed to declare he had been in Sydney, a COVID-19 hotspot, on August 2. He was immediately placed into hotel quarantine.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Wednesday the Queensland border will close to NSW and the ACT amid growing concern about the spread of COVID-19 and people trying to bypass restrictions.

Travellers from NSW and the ACT, along with those from Victoria, will be denied entry, with returning Queenslanders forced to fly into the state or drive through the Northern Territory or South Australian border before paying for 14 days in hotel quarantine.

Despite previously criticising Ms Palaszczuk’s decision to close the border, state Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington supported the Premier’s decision on Wednesday.

“The LNP have always been very clear that the border controls are not ‘set and forget’,” she said.

“What this is about is how the borders have been managed, and it’s been increasingly clear over the last couple of weeks that the Palaszczuk Labor government have got many holes in the system.”

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate supported the Premier’s decision and said Schoolies events scheduled for the end of the year were expected to be cancelled as a result of the virus threat.

“What do you do? Do you want to put health at risk for a few dollars?” Cr Tate said.

“Health is the main issue, and I know it is tough on the Tweed and Coolangatta, but I will be talking to the police about how we can make it a bit easier.”

Across the border, Tweed Shire deputy mayor Chris Cherry said she feared for the large number of elderly and vulnerable people in the local community accessing essential medical services in Queensland.

“This is obviously going to have a huge impact on our border town,” she said. “Tweed and the businesses here are so interconnected with south-east Queensland.

“We have a very old population in our businesses, and residents in those vulnerable age groups, and every time the border rules change, the queues get longer.”

Cr Cherry said if the border checkpoints moved from the northern end of the Tweed Shire to the southern end, the number of crossings would drop from about 50,000 to 20,000.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said while the industry supported the Premier’s move, they needed to see a roadmap to recovery to maintain hope.

“This is particularly devastating because we are going back in the wrong direction,” he said. “Just as we were rebuilding a bit of confidence and optimism, this has sapped our hope.”

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland advocacy and policy manager Amanda Rohan said they would continue to push for additional government stimulus and support.

“Businesses are at the front line of the health crisis, and the economic recovery is dependent on industry being supported to enable them to operate and keep people in jobs,” she said.

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