Queensland border to open to Victoria from December 1
Annastacia Palaszczuk has confirmed that the Queensland border will open to Victoria on December 1 after Dan Andrews this morning confirmed no new cases in the past 24 hours.
It comes after Ms Palaszczuk yesterday announced that visitors from Greater Sydney would also be allowed from December 1.
The move allows families to be reunited for Christmas, while the economy is set for a $600 million windfall as the state's barricades finally crumble.
The announcement comes too late for some families, who have faced interstate heartbreak but it will be welcomed by thousands more with the move set to add an estimated $20 million a day into the state economy by the end of the year.
Ms Palaszczuk said this morning she had no regrets about her hard line on border closures and that the state would consider closing its borders again in the event of outbreaks in other states.
"I absolutely make no apologies," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"What everyone needs to understand is that it's about community transmission.
"If we have to act, we will act, but we will always act on the advice of the Chief Health Officer."
Within hours of yesterday's announcement, demand for Queensland holidays on travel website Wotif surged over 140 per cent, while major airlines Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin all announced tens of thousands of extra seats in the lead-up to Christmas with Brisbane Airport braced for a 600 per cent increase in traffic to Sydney and Melbourne.
The southern capitals are easily Queensland's two biggest tourism markets, making up more than 80 per cent of total interstate spending in the state.
Melbourne has been banned from Queensland since the state announced border control measures in March while Sydney had only a brief respite in July before being barred for a further four months.
Ms Palaszczuk said she knew it had been tough on families but things were now looking very positive.
"Every single Queenslander has played their part for us to get to this stage," she said.
But neither the Premier or Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young were able to say what the exact trigger would be to shut the borders again.
"I think we'd have to see a major outbreak, we have been concerned about what happened in South Australia," the Premier said.
"We need to make sure we're always vigilant, we're always watching, and of course we will assess South Australia."
Ms Palaszczuk said the state had moved to a "hotspot regime" - a definition decided by National Cabinet - but she said she would always take the advice of Dr Young.
Under the official definition, a hotspot should only be declared if there are an average of 10 locally acquired cases a day over three consecutive days in a metropolitan area, or an average of three locally acquired cases a day over three consecutive days in regional areas.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the news would 'bring joy to thousands of families and friends' who now have the opportunity to see each other at Christmas.
"It's also a relief for so many small businesses across both states, with more tourists and visitors set to visit soon, which is good for jobs and the economy."
He said it was an important step towards getting Australia open by Christmas, a plan he has been advocating for since the start of September.
Not surprisingly, tourism leaders reacted with sheer joy at the announcement to reopen the border to our biggest domestic tourism market.
Speaking at Movie World, Village Roadshow theme parks chief operating officer Bikash Randhawa said he had 'goosebumps' when the State government made the call to reopen the border to more than five million Sydneysiders.
"This is the best news of 2020," he said.
"This is the best thing that could have happened - it's fantastic."
Mr Randhawa launched an extraordinary attack on the State government just days before last month's election as frustration boiled over, saying the continued uncertainty had placed hundreds of casual summer jobs at risk.
However, he yesterday said that was all in the past.
"I think it's time for all of us to move forward," he said.
"This great big COVID hangover needs to go away."
Across town, Dreamworld CEO John Osborne was also grateful at the news that the nation's biggest tourism market was now back in business.
"We applaud this morning's announcement that borders will be relaxed from next Tuesday to visitors from Greater Sydney and are excited to welcome them and hopefully Victorians back into our Parks and Attractions this summer," he said.
He also paid tribute to the State government's health response which had allowed restrictions to ease faster than in some other states.
Tourism and Events Queensland CEO Leanne Coddington said operators were ready to welcome visitors from Sydney, and the rest of Australia 'when it's safe to do so'.
"We want as many Australians as possible to come to Queensland and reconnect with family and friends, get out into nature and enjoy the internationally-renowned tourism experiences on offer right across the state," she said.
Brisbane Airport CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff said they were already expecting a surge from seven Sydney and Melbourne flights to almost 50.
"I can tell you that we have been on the phone with our airline partners since the announcement, and they have never sounded happier than they did today," he said.
In the Whitsundays, Ocean Rafting has been decimated by the complete collapse of the international market which made up 50 per cent of the business's visitors
Owner Jan Claxton said the return of Sydney and Melbourne would be a godsend.
"Our Queensland customers have been fantastic, but we were getting really deflated so close to Christmas, so this is a massive sigh of relief," she said.
Down Under Cruise and Dive managing director Peppi Iovanella was optimistic about an immediate upswing in tourists being sufficient to sustain operations busy enough to make employment more palatable than the dole for would-be workers.
"Back in July when the borders to NSW and Victoria were open, we were running four to five days per week," he said.
"When they closed, we went back down to three days.
"You can only make your decisions based on historical data, and the data is telling us that NSW and Victoria bring 12 million people we can potentially market to."
Originally published as $600m early Xmas present as borders reopen