Queensland flags extension of border closure

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has flagged that the state would remain closed to New South Wales and Victorian tourism until their COVID-19 cases are brought under control:

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said her state borders will remain shut “while there is active transmission”, putting some doubt on a July 10 reopening.

Speaking in state parliament on Tuesday, Ms Palaszczuk addressed cases in New South Wales and Victoria which may impact the reopening of Queensland’s borders.

“We want to see NSW and Victoria get on top of their community transmission,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“There are now just five active cases of COVID-19 in Queensland compared with 73 active cases in NSW and 49 active cases in Victoria.

“Of course, we recognise businesses are doing it tough but they would be doing it even tougher if there was an outbreak of community transmission in Queensland.

“People across Queensland do not want the borders opened and risk all of our great health response.”

While active COVID-19 cases are far higher in both New South Wales and Victoria:

There’s only around one active case per 100,000 population in both states. Most of the new cases are also from returning overseas travelers, rather than community transmission. Because New South Wales and Victoria are hosting most returned travellers in hotel quarantine, its stands to reason that they would experience the most active cases.

Regardless, both New South Wales and Victoria have tiny case loads and represent a tiny risk.

Given how reliant Queensland’s economy is on tourism, any objective analysis would conclude that the costs of keeping interstate borders closed far outweighs the benefits.

According to new modelling, the costs are mounting for Queensland:

Queensland is the worst affected state, shredding an estimated 173 direct and indirect jobs each day since late March — more than 1000 a week — and losing about $147m in economic activity on a weekly basis.

Bob Flemming was forced to close Townsville’s Billabong Sanctuary on March 25 and after three months of earning no income will reopen on the 27th, in time for the Queensland school holidays. The business owner said he was reliant on “southerners” from Sydney, Melbourne and regional NSW and Victoria to replace inter­national tourists…

“We make all of our money between the June-July school holidays and the August school holidays. Unless the Aussies have had time to plan their holidays — nobody just jumps in a car overnight — we’re going to miss that window,” Mr Flemming said.

“That will put us behind until the next June. My wife and I have been putting our personal savings into keeping the business afloat. That can’t go on forever.”

With Queensland’s state election due in late October, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is playing with fire.

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