Christmas will be sweet as, bro: Kiwis free to visit but it’s a one-way deal

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has revealed Queensland will open its border to New Zealand from 1am on Saturday but travel the other way across the Tasman will remain restricted.

Dec 11, 2020, updated Dec 11, 2020
Visitors from New Zealand will be free to enter Queensland from 1am Saturday. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Visitors from New Zealand will be free to enter Queensland from 1am Saturday. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Palaszczuk took to Twitter to announce the news, saying families could be reunited in time for Christmas after New Zealand recorded 28 days without any cases of community transmission of the virus.

The decision means people travelling from New Zealand will be able to enter Queensland without the need to quarantine.

However, visitors will still have to undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine when they return to NZ.

Palaszczuk said she was confident the New Zealand government would soon relax its quarantine requirements to allow “free flowing” travel.

However, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is yet to budge on opening the door at her end, with the NZ Herald reporting she has ruled out a trans-Tasman bubble until February at the earliest.

In the regional town of Woodville on Friday, Ardern denied a specific time frame but agreed she was being cautious over the border.

“I don’t want to take any risks that jeopardise the freedoms we have,” she said.

Free movement across the Tasman would be a huge boost to business, tourism and for people eager to see loved ones.

It would also clear NZ’s hotel quarantine backlog, as around 40 per cent of bookings for quarantine are from Kiwis in Australia.

The decision to pen Queensland’s borders is likely to relieve labour shortages in the state’s fruit and vegetable farms, with New Zealanders now able to enter to work.

The news came as new figures showed how Brisbane Airport is roaring back into life, with the lifting of pandemic travel restrictions and will record 30,000 passengers at its domestic terminal today for the first time since mid-March.

That number will include 16,000 arrivals and 14,000 departing passengers from 309 flights.

Brisbane Airport Corporation said interstate passenger volumes jumped from 118,000 in the week starting 23 November to 155,875 the following week, when interstate borders were thrown open.

Chief executive Gert-Jan de Graaff said the increase reflected pent-up demand as airlines schedule extra flights.

“We still have some way to go before we reach complete recovery of our domestic network, but the last few weeks have shown Australians are ready and willing to explore our beautiful state and country once more,” he said.

However, he said while airport customers were using hand sanitisers and distancing when it was possible, continuing to protect each other’s health would allow travelling to continue.

He encouraged passengers to use online check-in and to book ahead if they were using airport car parks.

Sydney and Melbourne flights are the most popular at Brisbane Airport, with Sydney flights up from five to 26 a day and Melbourne rising from two to 20 flights per day.

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Palaszczuk said the decision to ease the border to Kiwis was made on the advice of the state’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young who agreed New Zealanders could freely enter Queensland without having to quarantine.

“Jeannette Young advised me late last night that New Zealand is good to go,” Palaszczuk said.

“So visitors coming in from New Zealand, from 1am tomorrow are welcome into Queensland.”

However, visitors will still have to undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine when they return to NZ.

“We are hoping that, eventually, New Zealanders will not have to do that hotel quarantine upon return, and then there would be free-flowing movement between the two,” she said.

The premier denied the decision to open up to NZ had been made at the behest of industry groups, saying it was based on health advice alone.

When asked about labour shortages in the state’s fruit and vegetable farms, she confirmed NZ residents will be able to enter to work.

“Anyone from New Zealand will be welcome to come into Queensland,” Ms Palaszczuk added.

Queensland will also allow people from Adelaide to enter the state without undergoing mandatory quarantine at 1am on Saturday.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath and Young flagged the reopening on Monday after deciding that the South Australian government had contained a virus outbreak in the city.

Queensland will also allow socially-distanced dancing at indoor venues from 1am on Monday.

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