A loophole in Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s tough border stance may have been exposed as travellers flock to areas in the northern NSW travel bubble.
Following her re-election at the weekend, Ms Palaszczuk said she had “stared down” critics of her controversial decision to exempt Sydney from reopening to the sunshine state.
But The Daily Telegraph reports many Sydneysiders are taking advantage of a loophole in the travel bubble, flocking to northern NSW locations like Byron Bay and Kingscliff to visit interstate relatives.
Byron Bay is busy with Sydneysiders meeting Queenslanders in the town. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Steve HollandSource:News Corp Australia
Photos snapped across Byron Bay reveal the city has become a hive of activity, with people flocking to the beach and dining in local cafes and restaurants.
Long queues of traffic were seen around town.
Long queues of traffic around Byron Bay on Monday. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Steve HollandSource:News Corp Australia
Ballina-Byron Airport manager Julie Stewart claimed people from Sydney were working remotely in Byron Bay for two weeks, then travelling to Brisbane to avoid the mandatory quarantine period.
“We’re becoming a reunion centre, where people fly in from Sydney and have parents or relatives come down from Queensland to meet in the middle,” she said.
Sydneysiders are using Byron Bay as a meetup point to see family and friends in Queensland, and avoid the mandatory quarantine period if they travel north. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Steve HollandSource:News Corp Australia
This week, 61 return flights are arriving and departing from the airport – more than pre-COVID levels.
A Ballina Shire council spokeswoman said the flight numbers were higher but due to variation in aircraft size and capacity, and the airport had not reached pre-pandemic passenger numbers.
“Overall visitation from Sydney remains strong and is comparable to this time last year,” she said.
“As to be expected, NSW residents make up the greatest number of visitors to the Ballina Coast and Hinterland.
“Visitation from Victorians, even those who left the state prior to the July lockdown, has dramatically decreased since the winter school holidays.”
Beachgoers take advantage of Byron Bay weather to sunbake. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Steve HollandSource:News Corp Australia
Under current border restrictions, Queensland is open to regional NSW but remains closed to Greater Sydney.
People travelling from the exempt areas still need a border pass.
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