Qld keeps NSW border shut ahead of talks

·3-min read

Queensland will keep its road borders shut for now after the NSW government announced lockdown would lift in many communities along the frontier.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro says the lockdown in 13 of the 16 local government areas along the border will lift on Saturday after no new COVID-19 cases were recorded in them in the past 14 days.

The decision, along with comments on Thursday by the Queensland premier and chief health officer, raised hopes an announcement on easing border rules could be made as early as Thursday.

However Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles says the current settings, which only allow certain essential workers who have had one dose of a vaccine to cross into his state, will remain in place.

"The Queensland border restrictions remain in place," Mr Miles told AAP in a statement on Thursday.

"I have spoken to the NSW Deputy Premier today and we agreed the (NSW) Cross Border Commissioner and Queensland's Disaster Coordinator should meet to discuss the new arrangements in northern NSW."

The border between the two states has been closed since July 23, creating huge difficulties for people who live in border communities.

The NSW towns of Tweed Heads, where there have been protests against the hard border, and Mungindi, in the far west, are among the hardest hit.

An hour before the NSW government announced on Thursday that regional lockdown would lift, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was set to make a decision on easing border restrictions.

"We stand ready to respond," Ms Palaszczuk told reporters.

The Queensland government has paused an exemption allowing locals to cross the border to work, go to school or university, obtain healthcare or to provide care for 48 days.

At present only certain essential workers who have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are allowed to cross into Queensland from NSW.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said she would assess the border based on the NSW lockdown decision.

She said border closures had always been in place in line with the NSW government's own COVID-19 restrictions.

"The reason I was concerned about all of those scenes (protests) that were going on in Tweed is NSW thought the issue was so serious that they asked everyone who lived in Tweed to stay at home," Dr Young said.

"So they had made that decision, and then you saw that disregard of that requirement and that's what concerned me: that NSW had made a decision, and people weren't following that decision.

"So yes, I've always seen other states make decisions and those are the decisions that I put the most weight on."

Lockdown will lift on Saturday for the NSW border local government areas of Ballina, Byron, Clarence Valley, Inverell, Glen Innes-Severn, Gwydir, Kyogle, Lismore, Moree Plains, Richmond Valley, Tenterfield, Tweed and the Unincorporated Far West.

However, the NSW border LGAs of Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett will remain in lockdown due to active COVID-19 cases.

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