'Very bizarre': Drivers stuck in 'extraordinary' queues as Queensland border shuts

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

Lengthy queues have developed at the NSW-Queensland border after it closed for the first time in over 100 years overnight.

The new restrictions were implemented at midnight by the Queensland government as it looks to curb the exponential growth in COVID-19 cases across the state.

Footage from the border in the early hours of Thursday morning showed checkpoints manned by police officers asking every stopped vehicle their purpose for crossing the border into Queensland.

Cars were piled back for hundreds of metres as officers determined whether motorists had a valid reason to proceed.

All roads, bar the three major arteries of the M1, Gold Coast Highway and Griffith Street, will close between the two states.

The border closure has proven particularly complicated for the communities of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta where the border runs right through residential streets.

Checkpoints on the Gold Coast Highway on Thursday morning. Source: AAP

It is believed 8000 residents in Tweed Heads cross the border daily for work, the ABC reported.

State Disaster Coordinator Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said they were working on supplying passes to residents along the NSW-Queensland border.

On Thursday morning, Queensland Police announced an online portal was now operating to apply for exemption passes.

A vehicle is stopped at a checkpoint.
Queues of vehicles piled up along major arteries still open. Source: AAP

Yet Mr Gollschewski warned those who receive those passes that the process to cross the border will continue to take much longer than usual.

“There will be lengthy delays. My plea is to show patience,” he said.

One motorist who crossed the border early on Thursday morning described the situation as “bizarre”.

Others likened it to an RBT check. Nine News Queensland reporter Jess Millward called the scene “extraordinary” this morning as drivers queued for “kilometres and kilometres”.

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. 

The rule is in effect for pedestrians as well, with Mr Gollschewski refuting people crossing the border by foot in rural areas was an issue.

“The fact that someone might sneak through somewhere in the back of beyond, on some dirt track is probably not the focus for this,” he said.

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

With AAP

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