Queensland has reopened its borders to domestic Covid hotspots as it welcomes visitors from Greater Sydney and Melbourne for the first time in months.
The move sees the state shift from a Covid zero strategy into a new era of living with the virus now that 80 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.
“These days will soon be over as the virus comes to Queensland and the number of cases in our state grows,” said Treasurer Cameron Dick.
“So the single biggest way we can protect ourselves, our families, Queensland businesses and the Queensland economy is to get vaccinated now.”
Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said the reopening of borders was “wonderful news” for the tourism sector.
“The sooner we can open up in Australia the better, and we’re beginning, and have begun, the reopening internationally as well, and all that means is that we’re going to get a very safe reopening, which is wonderful news for our tourism industry,” he told the ABC’s Cathy Van Extel
“And all the forecasts are, when it comes to domestic tourism, by the end of next financial year it will be back to pre‑pandemic levels and then international tourism will follow on the back of that.”
Simon McGrath, Accor’s boss in Australia, said there had been a surge in bookings across popular spots including the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Cairns.
“What we’re seeing now is people are booking for next Christmas now, because places like Noosa and other destinations are full,” he told the Australian Financial Review.
The Sunshine Coast celebrated the news with 21 craft breweries simultaneously throwing open their doors.
“After months of uncertainty for the tourism industry, our state’s borders reopening to Australia just in time for the holidays is a moment worth celebrating,” Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel said.
“This day has been a long time coming, not only for our local business who rely on interstate travellers, but friends and family who have been separated from their loved ones.
“We wanted to do something that made people smile, and the welcome back party is about having some fun.”
Fully vaccinated visitors coming from a hotspot will no longer need to quarantine but must get a negative COVID test result within 72 hours before arriving into Queensland and have a COVID test on day five after arrival.
There are no restrictions on entering the state for visitors from outside a Covid hotspot.