Every state and territory had rushed to effectively ban Greater Sydney residents from entering in response to the coronavirus outbreak in the city’s Northern Beaches.
But the latest restrictions, which now requires all other NSW residents to obtain border passes to enter, are being freely flouted by drivers who have discovered a secret passage into the Sunshine State.
NSW motorists have been caught on camera (pictured) entering Queensland through a gap in a median strip that divides Tweed Heads and Coolangatta
Footage shows cars driving across the median strip that divided Thomson Street in Tweed Heads, NSW, from Dixon Street in Coolangatta, Queensland..
The brazen disregard for the latest regulations were captured during a 9News cross, with two cars spotted driving across the embankment into Queensland unimpeded.
The sneaky crossing occurred a short distance from the three heavily guarded border checkpoints, on the M1 motorway, the Gold Coast border area, and Griffith Street.
The alternative entry was used after drivers complained of hours-long waits in queues at the official crossing points after Queensland closed its border to NSW travellers from 11.59pm on Sunday.
‘This is going to have some effect on people coming into Queensland,’ Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler told reporters on Tuesday morning.
‘It’s really important people who have been in New South Wales, particularly any of those areas since December 11, and if they’re in Queensland now they need to go and get themselves a COVID-19 test and they need to self-isolate.
‘People who are travelling either into New South Wales and coming back or travelling from New South Wales coming into Queensland, it‘s critical that you get online and get yourself a border declaration pass.’
The unpatrolled median strip between Thomas Street and Dixon Street (pictured) is close to three heavily guarded border crossings
Anyone travelling to Queensland from Greater Sydney must have an exemption to enter and are required to then undertake 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine.
One woman who travelled from the Greater Sydney region was slapped with a $4000 fine after trying to lie her way across the checkpoints twice.
State Disaster Coordinator Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said tightening border controls was vital to keep Queenslanders safe.
‘We know it has been difficult for many people, particularly those who were looking forward to spending time with their family and friends over the festive season,’ Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.
‘As with previous border changes, we expect significant delays for motorists at some border crossings and we thank everyone for their patience.
‘It is everyone’s responsibility to understand and listen closely to the Queensland public health directions as the situation in New South Wales develops.
‘Now is not the time to be complacent, and I’d like to thank all Queenslanders for playing their part to help keep our community safe,’ he said.
A long line of traffic waiting to pass through the Queensland border checkpoint from NSW (pictured) on Tuesday
Three border checkpoints are in place on the M1 motorway, the Gold Coast border area, and Griffith Street
Queensland’s border closure will remain in place through the Christmas period and will be reviewed by the government on January 8.
Meanwhile, NSW recorded eight new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections linked to the Avalon cluster to 97.
In response, Gladys Berejiklian announced lockdown restrictions would be eased in Sydney to allow home visits for three days on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Greater Sydney residents will be allowed 10 adults plus unlimited children under 12 to visit their homes on those three days, before the 10-person cap was once again imposed from 27 December.
The Northern Beaches is being split into two sections at the Narrabeen Bridge, with those in the northern section where the cluster is centred suffering harsher Christmas restrictions than those in the south.
They are not allowed to leave or welcome people from outside the area but will be allowed five visitors to their homes on 24, 25 and 26 December before lockdown rules banning home visits resume.
Those south of the Narrabeen Bridge cannot leave the Northern Beaches but can welcome 10 visitors into their homes on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, including people from anywhere in NSW
The government will decide on Boxing Day if residents south of the Narrabeen Bridge will go back into lockdown on 27 December.
What are Queensland’s border rules?
The Queensland border is closed to any non-resident who has been in a Covid-19 hotspot in the last 14 days or since the hotspot was declared (whichever is shorter).
Currently 35 New South Wales LGAs comprising greater Sydney are hotspots.
Anyone travelling to Queensland who has been in NSW at any time since 1am Friday 11 December must complete a Queensland Border Declaration Pass before they enter Queensland.
Queensland residents entering on Monday will be allowed to enter by road and complete quarantine at home.
After 1am AEST on Tuesday 22 December, Queensland residents who have been in Greater Sydney on or since 11 December will have to enter Queensland by air and will be directed to quarantine in government arranged accommodation.
Source: Queensland government