‘We won’t hesitate’: Premier ready to shut out Sydney

 

PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk says she is prepared to take "quick action" to close the border to more people from NSW hot spots if cases there continue to rise.

Sources say a complete closure of the border is back on the cards if coronavirus cases in Victoria and NSW keep gathering momentum. Nineteen new cases were recorded in NSW today, while 403 new cases were recorded in Victoria.

Of the NSW cases, only three were from hotel quarantine, with the rest uncovered in the community.

"There is no way more hot spots are not going to be declared, and all of Sydney would definitely be a consideration given what's happening down there," a police source said.

"If the situation continues to deteriorate, I honestly don't see how we wouldn't look at closing the border entirely."

Asked about the comments this morning, Ms Palaszczuk said she was having daily meetings to consider the issue.

"If we have to declare further hot spots we will declare further hot spots", Ms Palaszczuk said.

"And if there is an outbreak of community transmission in New South Wales like we have seen in Victoria we will not hesitate to take swift and quick action."

Dixon Street Border Crossing Checkpoint at Coolangatta is now open to Emergency Service Vehicles, Military, Council and Major Services vehicles only. Photo Scott Powick Newscorp
Dixon Street Border Crossing Checkpoint at Coolangatta is now open to Emergency Service Vehicles, Military, Council and Major Services vehicles only. Photo Scott Powick Newscorp


The talk of tightening border restrictions further comes as a top cop has taken aim at those "recklessly" bluffing Queensland's coronavirus border and quarantine checks.

Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski is blasting those trying to sneak into Queensland as NSW and Victoria battle to control the virus spread.

Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said "the system has been tightened" in response to a minority flouting border and quarantine checks.

"It is very disappointing there are small amounts of people who selfishly and just recklessly decide they'll roll the dice on the system," he said.

Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski is blasting those trying to sneak into Queensland. Picture: NewsWire/David Kapernick
Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski is blasting those trying to sneak into Queensland. Picture: NewsWire/David Kapernick


He warned border checks would be in place for the foreseeable future.

"We'll continue to do this as we see things unfold interstate," he said. "We know Victoria's not in a good place and things are looking pretty grim. You can expect our border controls will be with us for some time."

Mr Gollschewski said since July 3 in Queensland more than 855,000 border declaration passes had been issued, 372,725 vehicles intercepted, 5583 vehicles turned back and 9308 people refused entry.

Since the start of border checks, 80,000 passengers have been processed at domestic airports with 8307 in quarantine, while 10,904 international travellers have been in two-week Queensland hotel quarantine.

Dixon Street Border Crossing Checkpoint at Coolangatta. Photo Scott Powick Newscorp
Dixon Street Border Crossing Checkpoint at Coolangatta. Photo Scott Powick Newscorp


Since March, more than 13,000 self-quarantine notices have been issued to people returning to Queensland from hot spots before the recent border rules blocked them entering. More than 60,000 calls have been made by Queensland Health to check their compliance. Of those, 2381 cases were referred to police for follow-up inquiries - and police found 387 of those people were not complying. 125 had left Queensland before their quarantine ended and 17 people were found at alternative addresses. Out of that, 35 people were located and hit with $1334 fines. All up 25 had given a correct address but left their self-quarantine location and had not been found. A total of 185 people believed to have provided false information, deliberately or inadvertently, had not been found.

Earlier on Wednesday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian scuttled a bid by her Queensland counterpart Annastacia Palasczcuk to shift the border blockade south.

Ms Berejiklian also warned NSW was at its most critical pandemic stage since unprecedented lockdown restrictions imposed back in March.

"There is so much at stake," she said. "We are not out of the woods, quite the opposite. We have some level of anxiety regarding the extent of community transmission."

Ms Palaszczuk said Ms Berejiklian knocked back moving the border south after instead suggesting checkpoints could instead go further north into the Gold Coast.

"That (moving checkpoints south) has been met with a no response," Ms Palaszczuk said. "All I wanted was to make it easier for commuting of those border communities.

"I tried. I appreciate she has other matters to deal with."

Originally published as 'We won't hesitate': Premier ready to shut out Sydney



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