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Good news for domestic tourism – bad news for Victorians

July 1, 2020 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the decision to reopen the state’s borders from 10 July 2020 – open to all Australians except Victorians – and AFTA’s newly appointed chief executive Darren Rudd yesterday become one of the first to welcome the prospect.

Palaszczuk said residents of Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales, Northern Territory and ACT would be allowed to enter Queensland from 10 July after filling in a border declaration.

“This border declaration is to ensure that no-one has travelled to Victoria in the past 14 days,” the Premier explained.

“Anyone who has travelled from Victoria, including Queenslanders, will be prevented from entering or will have to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense for two weeks.”

If they tell fibs about having visited Victoria, they face severe penalties and can be fined up to $4000.

“We just can’t risk removing border restrictions for people coming from areas of Victoria right now,” Palaszczuk said. “These are very big concerns.”

Victoria, alone among Australian states, is the centre of a major resurgence of Covid-19 coronavirus, with community transmission along with allegations of shameful behaviour – people ignoring social distancing restrictions and even refusing to be tested when asked by health authorities.

Queensland’s decision on the other states will delight the Gold Coast tourism industry, which has been brought to its knees since the flow of international and interstate tourists was cut off.

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) welcomed the Queensland Government’s decision.

AFTA chief executive Darren Rudd described it as “a step in the right direction which strikes the right balance between the necessary caution and getting the economy restarted”.

Rudd added: “If you’re planning a trip to Queensland or travelling within Queensland, you need to get the best advice about the many great deals on offer and how to make the most of your holiday. Your local trusted travel agent is perfectly placed to help.”

AFTA chief executive Darren Rudd

Rudd took up his new AFTA role a few days ago from the global information services business Tata Consultancy Services, where he has served as head of corporate affairs in Australia and New Zealand for the past four years.

The Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) said re-opening Queensland to most States and Territories on 10 July was “just the shot in the arm that our tourism industry needs right now”.

TTF chief executive Margy Osmond said Palaszczuk’s announcement balanced the important health impacts with national economic revival.

“There is a lot of detail swirling around right now with respect to borders and timings and dates, but the key message today is that our tourism industry is ramping back up for business,” Osmond said.

MEANWHILE, Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews revealed yesterday that almost 1000 Victorians in Covid-19 hotspots around Melbourne refused to be tested during last week’s testing blitz. Andrews described their behaviour as “incredibly disappointing” and declared a stay-at-home lockdown, applying to all residents in coronavirus-affected suburbs, in an attempt to stem the spread of community transmission.

Ten postcodes have been placed into strict lockdown after Victoria recorded a further 64 new cases on Tuesday morning and 73 today.

The state has been concentrating its testing efforts on 10 suburbs with high cases of community transmission: Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Hallam, Brunswick West, Fawkner, Reservoir and Pakenham.

Victoria Police will be on patrol, actively enforcing the suburban lockdown. They can issue heavy on-the-spot fines until 29 July 2020.

The latest Covid-19 shock from Victoria followed the disclosure last week that almost a third of returned travellers in hotel quarantine in that state have refused to be tested for coronavirus, even as infections in the state continue to rocket.

Victoria’s deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen said about 30% of arriving international travellers had simply refused to be tested, despite multiple offers during their 14-day stay in quarantine. Most are Australian citizens or permanent residents returning from overseas.

Other states haven’t encountered the same rate of refusal and theories differ on why Victoria differs so starkly. To encourage cooperation, Victoria now requires all returned travellers in hotel quarantine to participate in testing for coronavirus on day 11 to be eligible for release after 14 days. Those who refuse to be tested must remain in quarantine for an additional 10 days – 24 in total – “to ensure they pose no risk of introducing coronavirus to the Victorian community”.

Written by Peter Needham

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