- By Ellen Ransley
- NCA NewsWire
- 1:09PM August 1, 2020
Two people who allegedly attempted to enter Queensland stowed away in the back of a truck are set to be charged.
Police are investigating the incident after new border restrictions came into effect early on Saturday morning, barring millions of Australians from the sunshine state.
Anyone who lives in, or has visited the Greater Sydney area or Victoria in the last 14 days will be turned away at the Queensland’s borders. Residents who want to return home but have been to any COVID-19 hot spots will have to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days at their own expense.
The closure comes as Queensland this week reported its first cases of COVID-19 community transmission in months.
Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles said on Saturday that police were investigating the alleged truck stowaway incident.
“They will be charged with breaching COVID travel restrictions,” he said.
“That will send a message to anyone who thinks they can get around our restrictions that police are checking vehicles.
“You will be caught and the penalties are significant.”
Mr Miles added that in the last 24 hours, 81 people had been refused entry to the state.
“Queensland Police intercepted 76 passengers on 76 different flights and we processed 5975 people at our airports,” he said. “Of them, 114 were diverted to hotel quarantine and one was refused entry and turned around at the airport.
“At our road borders, 6745 vehicles were intercepted, 80 people were refused entry and 35 were directed to hotel quarantine.”
The border shutdown comes after a coronavirus scare in the state, prompted by two women who returned from Melbourne via Sydney and ignored quarantine rules, continuing to go about their business while infectious.
The two women, and a third woman who travelled with them but did not test positive, have since been charged with fraud and providing false information to border authorities.
The closure has brought chaos to the state’s border checkpoints, with massive traffic queues building up as police struggle to process the vehicles.
Mr Miles said in the hours before the new enforcements came into place, there had been reports of 90 minute waits.
By Saturday morning that had dropped back to 10 minutes, he said.
Earlier this week push notifications were sent to border declaration pass holders, with police urging residents in the Tweed/Coolangatta area to update their information to ensure ease of access.
New South Wales recorded 17 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and closed more venues for deep cleaning and contact training.
Meanwhile, the Northern Territory has designated Greater Brisbane, Ipswich and Logan as coronavirus hot spots as of Saturday morning, the areas joining Victoria, Sydney, the Eurobodalla Shire and Port Stephens.
Anyone travelling or returning to the NT who has visited any of the declared hotspots must enter into a mandatory 14 days quarantine.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said southeast Queensland presented an “unacceptably high” health risk.
“While the numbers in Brisbane are still low, the Chief Health Officer has considered the data and advised that the risk of spread in these areas is unacceptably high,” he said.
“These areas are a threat to the Territory, so our borders will close to them.”