Border closure a ‘huge over-reaction’
A GOLD Coast business leader has blasted the border closure to NSW and the ACT as a "huge over-reaction" as police warn that cross-border travellers face their most painful delays since the pandemic began.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday ordered the border to be slammed shut to all of NSW and Canberra from 1am on Saturday.
Police were scrambling to work out how border residents will be allowed to come and go, with photo ID to be part of the new checkpoint regime.
Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce president Hilary Jacobs said the closure would smash businesses struggling to recover since the border reopened less than a month ago.
"We're very disappointed - we think it's a huge over-reaction," she said.
"It seems the decision is based on a few very selfish Queenslanders - not NSW people - who are lying to get across the border.
"This is going to have a massive impact on the border community."
Ms Jacobs said the border had been closed despite NSW not recording a large spike in COVID-19 cases like in Victoria.
She said penalties should have been increased to deter people from illegally entering Queensland, such as the six Logan residents who allegedly lied about having visited COVID-ravaged Melbourne.
"There are signs at the border warning that you face a $66,000 fine for bringing a rabbit into Queensland yet you can only be fined $4003 for bringing in COVID," she said.
"I understand we've got to protect people's health but the economy is already hurting very, very badly."
Gold Coast police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said details on how the border closure would affect local residents were still being worked through.
But he warned that the closure would be 'painful'' and motorists, who have already endured two hour delays when hotspots were declared previously, should brace for more lengthy traffic snarls.
"This will probably be the most significant closure since March 26 when we (first) shut the border," he said.
"One message for sure is that anyone crossing the border must expect delays.
"I'd anticipate that we will see (large numbers) of Queensland residents returning from NSW and they really need to be back before 1am on Saturday, otherwise they'll find themselves in mandatory self-funded hotel quarantine."
Tony Cannon, who owns the Komune hotel at Coolangatta and has been an outspoken critic of the border chaos, said he now supported the closure.
"I think it's the right decision given the second wave of COVID we're seeing in Victoria and NSW," he said.
Mr Cannon said it was imperative that COVID was kept out of Queensland so that tough restrictions were not reimposed on hospitality venues like his.
"The most important thing is that we as businesses do the right thing and our customers do the right thing," he said.
Tweed Heads resident Jessie-Lee Sorenson, 23, who crossed the border yesterday to get her car serviced, said she would put up with the inconvenience if it meant reducing the spread of COVID.
"We just have to get on top of it," she said.
Originally published as Border closure a 'huge over-reaction'