Bubble bursts: Strict entry rules in force for Tweed, Byron residents

Byron and Tweed shire residents in NSW will only be allowed to enter Queensland for essential work and limited essential purposes from 1am on Wednesday.

Sep 21, 2021, updated Sep 21, 2021
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says mask mandates will return to Queensland from 1am on Saturday. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says mask mandates will return to Queensland from 1am on Saturday. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Queensland will remove Byron Bay and Tweed Heads from the border bubble after the NSW government ordered those shires into a seven-day COVID-19 lockdown.

The state government says Byron and Tweed shire residents will only be allowed to enter Queensland for essential work, emergency volunteering and other limited essential purposes from 1am on Wednesday.

Previously they had been allowed to cross into Queensland for work, education, compassionate care or essential shopping, provided they’ve had one vaccine dose.

The announcement comes as NSW moved to lock down Byron and Tweed from 5pm on Tuesday after a COVID-19 case was infectious in both shires last week.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had foreshadowed changes to the border bubble earlier on Tuesday.

“The concern is, of course, if there are cases in northern NSW,” she said.

“That will present a real risk to the southern parts of the Gold Coast, where I have thousands of families holidaying on the Gold Coast at the moment.”

Removing Byron and Tweed from the bubble has complicated interstate travel for other border zone residents further south.

For Ballina, Richmond Valley and Clarence Valley shires residents the most direct route to Queensland is via Byron and Tweed.

Queensland Health said people entering the state from non-restricted border zone local government areas in NSW can do so if they transit through Byron and Tweed without stopping, in a private vehicle, in under two hours.

Queensland is already restricting travel from a number of NSW local government areas on the border.

They include Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Glen Innes Severn, Lismore, Walgett Shire and the Unincorporated Far West.

Palaszczuk urged people, particularly seniors, not to believe misinformation they may read online about vaccines.

She also took aim at a Courier-Mail report that cabinet had approved a plan to wait until vaccination coverage reached 90 per cent to reopen the borders.

“That is misinformation that was being peddled today,” she said.

“Let me say categorically, national cabinet is working on a national plan. We are waiting for further information to come from the Doherty modelling to national cabinet in a fortnight’s time.

“In the meantime, let me say very clearly to Queensland, it is important to get vaccinated. We are now at 60 per cent. We need to get as many people as possible vaccinated to protect our lifestyle, to protect our freedoms.”

The Queensland government hasn’t committed to any particular vaccine coverage target for reopening the state borders.

Queensland recorded no new locally-acquired cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, with one new case recorded in hotel quarantine.

NSW has reported 1022 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths.

Of the 10 people who died in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, one was in their 50s, one in their 60s, two in their 70s, five in their 80s and one in their 90s.

It takes that state’s toll for the current outbreak to 255.

NSW Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Marianne Gale said there had been a number of exposure sites in the Byron Bay area, including shops, restaurants and pubs in the Tweed area as well.

“I urge residents of that northern NSW area and Byron Bay and Tweed LGAs in particular to have a look out for exposure venues that are listed,” she said.


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