Queensland is Reopening Its Border with New South Wales

The move comes as Australia’s most populous state eases its own coronavirus restrictions after going 11 days without community transmission.

A bird’s-eye view of Gold Coast, Queensland. (Photo: Robert Lynch/Unsplash)

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced yesterday that her state’s hard border with neighboring New South Wales will come down on Monday, February 1, as Greater Sydney will no longer be declared a Covid-19 hotspot after almost two weeks of zero community cases. Thousands of residents across Greater Sydney have been banned from entering Queensland since December 21, thanks to the emergence of a coronavirus cluster in the Northern Beaches suburbs and the neighborhood of Berala in the city’s southwest.

Other Australian states and territories are also lifting their own entry restrictions. The Australian Capital Territory scrapped its last remaining border controls imposed on New South Wales travelers this afternoon; similarly, Tasmania will allow unrestricted travel from the rest of the country at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, when the 14-day quarantine requirement is due to be dropped for residents of Greater Sydney. South Australia will grant Sydneysiders quarantine-free access from the same day, although travelers must be tested on arrival and self-isolate until a negative result has been returned. They will then undergo a further two tests on the fifth and 12th days of their trip.

Within New South Wales, the state government has relaxed a raft of coronavirus rules this morning. Up to 30 people can now visit a house, and the maximum number of patrons allowed at outdoor gatherings has been raised from 30 to 50 people. Weddings and funerals will be able to accommodate 300 guests, but social distancing must be maintained with each person allocated four square meters. All other events, including religious services and corporate get-togethers, no longer have a cap on the number of people in attendance.

Masks are still required on public transport, in places of worship, and also at beauty and hairdressing salons, but are merely recommended (i.e. optional) for those inside shops and supermarkets. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has suggested it will take another two weeks before she can change current rules on the density of patrons in indoor venues, revising the requirement from four to two square meters per person.

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