Australia’s Internal Border Controls Return

Multiple states and territories have now imposed entry restrictions on travelers from Greater Brisbane.

Brisbane’s heritage-listed Story Bridge. (Photo: Kon Karampelas/Unsplash)

Australians planning to spend the upcoming Easter holidays in Queensland are likely to have their travel plans derailed by a growing cluster of coronavirus cases in Greater Brisbane. Earlier today, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that four new locally transmitted infections involving the more contagious U.K. variant had been reported overnight, and the metropolitan area would go into a strict three-day lockdown from 5 p.m. local time. “This will also enable our health authorities to get on top of the contact tracing,” Palaszczuk explained. The lockdown measures will be reviewed on Wednesday night, although the premier cautioned that Thursday would not see a return to business as usual.

Residents of Greater Brisbane are only allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons such as work, stocking up on supplies, exercise, and to seek medical care. Masks are now mandatory in indoor spaces and on public transport; schools and daycare centers will be closed to all children except for those of essential workers; while cafés, pubs, and restaurants will only offer takeout service. The number of visitors allowed in private homes is capped at two per day, and that limit has been set to 30 for the rest of Queensland.

Other Australian states and territories have swiftly brought back entry bans and quarantine requirements in response to the news. While neighboring New South Wales has kept its border with Queensland open, anyone who has been in Greater Brisbane since March 20 must now comply with the lockdown rules in Queensland’s state capital.

Victorian health authorities have designated Greater Brisbane a Covid-19 “red zone,” meaning that non-residents traveling from the area will not be allowed to enter the state without an exemption. Victorians can apply for a special red-zone permit to return home, but must self-quarantine for two weeks and get tested twice for the virus: first within 72 hours of arriving, then on day 13 of the self-isolation period. Similarly, the Northern Territory now requires all travelers from Queensland’s locked-down regions to go into mandatory supervised quarantine.

South Australia has already imposed a hard border on residents of Greater Brisbane, allowing only residents, essential workers, and those permanently relocating to enter. All must spend 14 days in quarantine and be tested for the virus. Western Australia is going one step further: from midnight tonight, travelers from Queensland will be barred except for those with special exemptions.

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