January 27, 2022

New goal for Qld after border changes QANTAS plane landing at Brisbane Airport with Brisbane City buildings in background. Photographer: Liam Kidston.

Queensland has thrown its domestic borders wide open and now tourism groups are eyeing a key milestone that will help boost a struggling industry.

The ink is barely dry on orders to scrap domestic border restrictions but Queensland’s Covid-stricken tourism industry is already eyeing the next frontier.

The Sunshine State on Thursday announced it was ending two years of uncertainty by removing all restrictions on domestic travellers, meaning border applications and negative rapid antigen tests are longer needed to enter Queensland from hotspot areas.

Thursday’s news was met with relief from tourism bosses and visitor-reliant communities who have been forced to watch on as coronavirus restrictions melted away millions in revenue.

“Now that our borders are fully open, you don‘t need border passes, I can say Queensland is beautiful one day, no COVID-19 test the next,” Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate told Sunrise on Friday.

The new rules come into effect from 1am on Saturday, with chief health officer John Gerrard saying the state’s strict border regime had served its purpose.

And with double vaccination levels fast approaching 90 per cent, tourism bosses now have their sights firmly set on international arrivals.

“We will need those visitors back,” Queensland Tourism Council chief executive Daniel Geschwind told Sunrise.

“We also need the workers back and the international students on a working holiday visas, all of them we need for our industry, especially with such enormous staff shortages.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had previously flagged 90 per cent double vaccinations as the threshold for fully-vaccinated travellers to enter Queensland from anywhere in the world.

The state is currently at 88.2 per cent full vaccination and is expected to hit the milestone next week.

Queensland’s hardline stance on borders was often criticised by political opponents, the business community, and people who found themselves locked out by the system.

The state’s Covid numbers are below the levels in NSW and Victoria during the Delta outbreak last year.

Queensland opened its border to vaccinated arrivals in December.

Police who have been manning the border will now be returned to duty elsewhere, with the focus shifting to compliance with venue laws and mask wearing.

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