COVID-19 border rules spark tension between the states.
Australia’s deputy chief medical officer says there’s no reason for borders to be shut, as state leaders squabble over coronavirus-related border closures.
NSW will relax travel rules within the state from June 1, with regional travel allowed for interstate visitors and residents. The Blue Mountains has already reported “bedlam” as tourists returned over the weekend, while regional places like Orange reported an influx of bookings as soon as the travel restrictions were lifted.
But Queensland is holding firm, telling its tourism industry to prepare for a likely September reopening of its state borders.
WA, SA and the NT are also maintaining hardline approaches on border closures amid fears of a second wave of infections.
Travel restrictions in NSW will be lifted from June 1. You will be able to holiday anywhere in the State. Remember at all times to practise strict social distancing, frequent hand washing, and plan and book ahead. Avoid shared facilities. pic.twitter.com/G10NlgIhnu
— Gladys Berejiklian (@GladysB) May 20, 2020
Deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly says the national health advisory committee has made no decision nor offered advice on state border closures.
“From a medical point of view, I can’t see why the borders are still closed,” he said.
Just 13 new cases were recorded over the past 24 hours, giving Australia 535 active cases out of its total of 7079, which includes 100 deaths.
South Australia and the ACT have no active cases, the NT has one but has not recorded a new infection in four weeks, while Western Australia has four and Queensland has 12.
WA Premier Mark McGowan knows his tough stance is frustrating political leaders on the other side of the country.
“It might inconvenience the NSW premier and some people from the eastern states, but frankly, I don’t give a damn,” he said.
“We’re not going to give in to that sort of bullying by the NSW premier or anyone else.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the move would be an opportunity for her state as the tourism sector returns to life.