For the first time since before Christmas, travellers from all parts of NSW can enter Queensland after the Sunshine State dropped its border restrictions.
Queensland closed the border to 35 local government areas in Greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast in the midst of December’s COVID-19 outbreak, causing chaos for festive season travellers.
But with NSW recording more than 14 days without a local virus case, Queensland’s border checkpoints are being dismantled from Monday.
Queensland has barred NSW residents from entering the state three separate times since the pandemic began.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s announcement was warmly received south of the border. However her plea for an extension of JobKeeper to aid the tourism industry was not.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejikilian said the Queensland leader had created some of the tourism sector’s hardship, through “hasty” border decisions.
“(Ms Palaszczuk) is now the victim of a policy she put in place herself,” Ms Berejiklian said.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet also took a swipe, saying Ms Palaszczuk needed to realise “money doesn’t grow on banana trees”.
Ms Palaszczuk dismissed the criticism, telling reporters outsiders can call her whatever names they want “but honestly, I will always stand up for people in this state”.
She said tourism operators in the far north of the state, in particular, had told her the main problem was not the domestic downturn but a lack of international visitors.
Border restrictions imposed on Greater Sydney by the ACT and Victoria relaxed on Friday, while Tasmania and South Australia eased their restrictions on Sunday.
Meanwhile, NSW on Sunday introduced rules for people travelling to the state from WA after a quarantine hotel worker in Perth tested positive for COVID-19.
NSW Health says arrivals from locked-down areas of Perth and WA must get tested for coronavirus and stay home.
The approach by NSW is less severe than Victoria, which has closed its border to WA areas affected by the lockdown, while SA has shut its entire WA border.