‘Selfish’ southerners put lives, livelihoods at risk
"SELFISH" Victorians are endangering Queensland lives by trying to flood in to the Sunshine State in defiance of tough border travel restrictions, the Gold Coast's top cop says.
As the number of coronavirus cases in Victoria continues to soar, Queensland tourism leaders fear another border closure caused by a second wave here would be "catastrophic" to the industry.
More than 1000 people travelling from Victoria have been busted trying to make it through Queensland's border force checkpoints in the four days since the state eased restrictions on all states except Victoria.
Across the weekend, 850 travellers were turned away at Queensland's road border checkpoints and that number swelled further yesterday with 82 on the Gold Coast alone.
The Gold Coast's top cop, Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler, slammed the behaviour of travellers ignoring the state's border restrictions on anyone who has been in Victoria in the past 14 days.
"It's frustrating, it's disappointing and it's selfish, reckless behaviour that poses a danger to our community," he said.
"This is a perfect example of why we are having to have these border checkpoints.
"We're not trying to make people's live difficult - we're trying to save them."
Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the state was not out of the woods yet and officers would remain vigilant at border checkpoints.
"I think the lesson for all of us on what's happened out of Victoria and what we've seen in other jurisdictions is you just can't take your eye off the ball with this," he said.
"There is no time for complacency - this is not over.
"We all have to be very vigilant."
Queensland police are also questioning interstate arrivals over whether they have visited the Crossroads Hotel in western Sydney, where an outbreak has led to a spike in cases in NSW.
So far no arrivals to Queensland by road have been linked to the outbreak or turned away at the border.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said holiday-makers and operators were wary of the escalating situation in southern states and warned of catastrophic impacts if another outbreak in the Sunshine State forced borders to again close.
"It would destroy whatever slowly-building confidence the sector has managed to regain," he said.
"At the moment we're holding on to that lifeline (of open borders) and if that were to be cut off, it would be catastrophic.
"It's a very serious situation and we appreciate the importance of the border checkpoints, so we hope people can understand why they might be facing delays coming here and just be patient."
Asked about the prospect of again closing borders to all interstate travel, Queensland Health Minister and Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the Government would "continue to act on the latest health advice to keep Queenslanders safe".
"The Chief Health Officer is keeping a close watch on community transmission rates in Victoria and NSW and will advise if any further measures need to be put in place," he said.
So far, tens of thousands of dollars in fines have been issued to travellers from Victoria busted lying about their whereabouts as they tried to enter Queensland.
The fines included more than $24,000 to a group of six people in a mini-van who were refused entry twice in the space of 24 hours and later found to have falsified border declarations.
Yesterday a woman was also fined more than $4000 after telling police she had not been in Victoria during the past fortnight when she had in fact travelled extensively through known Victorian hot spots.
- Additional reporting by Elise Williams and Jack McKay
Originally published as 'Selfish' southerners put lives, livelihoods at risk