Lengthy delays expected at Qld-NSW border

Robyn Wuth and Darren Cartwright
Interstate residents will have to apply for a permit to enter Queensland from midnight on Wednesday

Lengthy delays are expected after Queensland's border closes at midnight on Wednesday to stymie the spread of COVID-19.

Motorists need to be patient at border crossings where priority will be given to essential service and emergency vehicles, says State Disaster Co-ordinator Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski.

He says they are still working through the logistics of supplying passes to residents along the NSW-Queensland border, in particular those in Tweed Heads and Coolangatta where only a street divides the states.

The border crossing ban includes pedestrians.

"Even people with an exemption, it is going to take time to get across the border. There will be lengthy delays. My plea is to show patience," Mr Gollschewski said.

"Vehicle passes to cross the border ... won't be ready tonight

"The same exemptions apply whether you are walking across the road, walking across the border at Tweed Heads or coming in on a boat."

Police officers will be stationed at passenger arrival gates at Gold Coast Airport to brief passengers on their obligations if they are required to self-isolate and determine if they meet the criteria to be exempted.

Motorists will be turned away at the border if they are not exempt or can't adequately demonstrate they can go into isolation in Queensland for 14 days.

Those not travelling for work, medical appointments or delivering freight are barred from crossing the border.

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate has endorsed the border shutdown, saying it was essential to stop the virus spreading.

"If we have to restrict it further, based on Queensland Health's advice, I absolutely support the decision," Cr Tate said.

"I urge everyone to stay in Queensland if they can."

He also urged residents living along the border divide to use common sense as they struggle with the closure.

"If you work in one shop and you just live across the road, it is obvious you can do that."

With hours to go until residents living in northern NSW face a police-controlled border, there is no system in place allowing them to apply for the proposed travel permit.

"We acknowledge this inconvenience may be quite challenging for some people, but we appeal to them to comply with our directions to help manage the impact of COVID-19 on our community," Mr Gollschewski said.

Many residents say it would be difficult to stop people crossing the border, but the measures had been put in place to protect the community, Mr Gollschewski said.

"So that's about the big numbers of people coming across. The fact that someone might sneak through somewhere in the back of beyond, on some dirt track is probably not the focus for this.

"This is really about the big numbers of people on major corridors."