Uncertainty reigns over Christmas travel
UNCERTAINTY surrounding Queensland's new border restrictions with New South Wales is threatening to turn the Christmas plans of local families into chaos.
On Thursday night Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young declared anyone already in Queensland who had been to Sydney's Northern Beaches since December 11 would need to get tested and isolate in their home for 14 days from the date they left the area.
As of Friday anyone flying into Queensland from the COVID cluster area must be tested and self-isolate for two weeks, while from Saturday passengers will be directed into mandatory self-funded hotel quarantine as of 1am.
Overnight there were 28 COVID cases linked to the Northern Beaches cluster in Sydney, including a person who has since flown to Queensland.
North Queensland resident John Andersen has two adult children in Sydney: daughter Brigid, who is travelling to Cairns on a flight on Saturday morning with her young daughter Rose and partner Paul, and son Will, due to return on December 29 with his partner, Katrina.
Like many North Queensland residents, Mr Andersen is wondering if his plans to spend the festive season with loved ones are in jeopardy.
"It's like 2020 is going to sink the boot in again at the final moment," he said. "It's pretty wild. I had a friend … travelling by car across the border (into Queensland) and they said it was like the fall of Singapore all over again.
"I'm out mowing the lawn assuming Christmas is going ahead. But we don't know what's happening. Thousands of families might have their Christmas plans in disarray."
Townsville Airport general manager Brendan Cook said there were question marks on how new border restrictions would impact the number of people travelling from NSW to Townsville and what measures might be put in place.
"It's really still too early to know how the announcement about Sydney's cluster is going to impact travellers coming from Sydney," he said. "We have great experience managing this sort of thing through the last few months working with our partners in Queensland Police and Queensland Health in putting the right processes in place to reduce risk to incoming passengers."
Townsville Enterprise visitor economy director Lisa Woolfe said she was confident the follow-on effects of Sydney's latest COVID cluster would not be severe.
"While Sydney's Northern Beaches cluster is an evolving situation, we have seen similar clusters managed well, avoiding widespread impacts across the country," she said.
Originally published as Uncertainty reigns over Christmas travel