The Queensland government’s “ridiculous” decision to keep Sydney on the border blacklist has enraged tourism operators, who say there is little point reopening only to parts of NSW.
The premier state recorded no new virus cases on Friday and only a single new infection on Saturday but the sustained trend of low cases wasn’t enough to sway Annastacia Palaszczuk.
The Queensland premier says travel restrictions will ease from 1am on Tuesday, with the state’s border to open to everyone but those in Greater Sydney and Victoria.
The announcement has drawn the ire of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who says it’s “extremely unfair”, and Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce who has called it “ridiculous”.
“If there were health concerns, I’d be the first to say I understand your position,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Friday.
“But the lengths that (the Queensland and WA) premiers have gone to is beyond the realm of logic and unfortunately it’s hurting families, it’s hurting individuals, it’s hurting businesses.”
Qantas and Jetstar had been ready to bring hundreds of staff back to work and put on 1000 extra flights to reunite families split across the states.
“Frankly, this is ridiculous,” Mr Joyce said in a statement.
“Keeping the doors bolted to places you can’t reasonably call hotspots makes no sense from a health perspective and it’s doing a lot of social and economic damage as well.
“Queensland may find that by the time it does open up to Sydney, people have made other plans.”
Head of Sydney-based Wentworth Travel agency Anna McMurtrie says that is exactly right.
Sydney is home to the bulk of NSW’s population, especially those with disposable income, so re-opening Queensland to other parts of the state will have little effect, she says.
By doing so, the Queensland premier has shot her own economy in the foot.
“We are seeing a shift in inquiries to South Australia, Tasmania and even New Zealand because we feel that there is a possibility of travel there before Queensland,” she told AAP.
One new case of locally-transmitted COVID-19 was diagnosed from 13,134 tests in NSW in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday and none the day before.
The case included in Saturday’s numbers is a previously reported teen who attended Flip Out Prestons Indoor Trampoline Park at Prestons at the same time as a known case.
The teen is also a student at Cabramatta High School, which is closed for deep cleaning over the weekend.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young on Friday praised NSW’s contact tracing and testing regime and said she had planned to let Sydneysiders in to the state but changed her mind after another mystery COVID-19 outbreak in the area.
Dr Young said there was “a strong possibility” Queensland would open to Sydney once NSW “was on top of” the community outbreaks.
Australian Associated Press