From lizards to formal dresses, border bubble turns into a fizzer

Mass confusion is causing Queensland’s “border bubble” to fizzle, with police at the Gold Coast forced to turn away hundreds of people over the long weekend who thought they could legitimately cross into the state.

Oct 05, 2021, updated Oct 05, 2021
Police check motorists' permits in Albury-Wodonga. Photo: ABC

Police check motorists' permits in Albury-Wodonga. Photo: ABC

Gold Coast Police Superintendent Geoff Sheldon said the number people turning up with non-essential reasons to cross the locked down border peaked at the weekend, with excuses to enter Queensland ranging from picking up a lizard to collecting a formal dress.

Sheldon said 86 vehicles and more than 100 people were turned away on Saturday alone, with many “bubble” residents trying to get across.

While the travellers who were wanting to get a new lizard or collect a dress for a school formal were turned away, so were NSW residents who wanted to make the inter-state trip to buy a bathtub, go to band practice, or get a haircut.

One man tried to get around the restrictions claiming he had a medical appointment in Noosa later in the week but was crossing carrying only a wetsuit and surf board.

“This all-pervading border bubble talk has a lot of people confused and they think they can just come along and go over, but they simply can’t. They have to have an essential purpose and have evidence of it,” Sheldon told ABC Gold Coast.

He said the current border bubble was significantly different to earlier arrangements for cross-border residents.

“The first time it was used you could go and have a coffee in the Tweed or a surf and come back, but this time you can’t.

“Unless you have a certain vaccination status, an essential purpose it’s completely different to the first time round, but people are running off the first iteration of it and it’s causing a lot of people a lot of grief.

“That’s where it is very clear that we are not getting the point across. It is not a border bubble, and you can’t just come across willy-nilly anymore like you were allowed to 12 months ago.”

Sheldon said while there was significant confusion, some people were still trying to deliberately dodge the lockout rules.

A tradie trying to illegally smuggle his ute across the border on a tow truck was among those sprung on Monday and fined for failing to comply with border directions.

Sheldon said Acting Chief Superintendent Rhys Wildman was at the Dixon Street police checkpoint at Coolangatta when he saw the tow truck crossing the border hauling a white vehicle with West Australian number plates.

“Rhys Wildman was down visiting the crew just to say hello and see how they’re going and along comes a tow truck. It’s gone a short distance away and a bloke has walked over from the barriers at Dixon street and put on a couple of sets of number plates and off he’s gone.

“He’s had a lot of bad luck since then, he’s got himself a Covid ticket and been sent back over the border,” Sheldon said.

“We’ve had the border closed in one form or another since about May 2020, so there’s not many cunning and clever plans you can come with that we haven’t actually seen before.

“The second a tow truck comes over, we’re up like meercats looking over the fence thinking there’s something suspicious here, and that’s exactly what happened on this occasion,” he said.



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