After almost 250 days, Queensland police have begun dismantling the state’s border as the Sunshine State prepares to welcome millions of Victorians and Sydneysiders from Tuesday.
Victorians have not been able to enter Queensland since March 25, while Sydney residents have been barred since August 8. Tuesday, December 1 will mark the 250th day, with police no longer required at the border from 1am.
What began as gazebos, plastic chairs and witches hats soon became border “villages” for hundreds of officers, Australian Defence Force personnel, SES volunteers, QFES officers and Department of Transport and Main Roads employees.
Hundreds of metres of blockades are now being ripped down as police warn of one last day of border delays on Tuesday as they remove almost nine months worth of infrastructure.
Police have been stationed at the Queensland/ NSW borders since the end of March, with the blockade set to finally come down on Tuesday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Steve HollandSource:News Corp Australia
Gold Coast Superintendent Mark Wheeler, who has been spearheading the border defence since March, took an opportunity on Monday to thank the officers who came from all over the state.
“The job these officers have done has been among the most important of their careers,” Superintendent Wheeler said.
“They have been incredibly resilient and have done an outstanding job, and we especially thank the police from outside this district.
“Some have been here for 250 days … I really want to thank them for their dedication and professionalism, they’ve guarded us from COVID-19.
“They’ve helped us smash the curve. Now we want them to go back to their day jobs and do the same with crime.”
Tuesday will make the 18th iteration of the border system, with declaration passes no longer required for anyone wishing to enter the state.
People who have visited a hot spot, currently only the 20 local government areas of Adelaide, will only be permitted to fly into Queensland.
Police will continue to conduct random checks until the region is no longer a hot spot and will be prepared to stand up the border system within 24 hours if needed.
“If it is necessary to reinstate the borders, due to a significant outbreak, we can do so within 24 hours,” Superintendent Wheeler said.
Police have intercepted millions of vehicles at the border checkpoints since March 26. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Steve HollandSource:News Corp Australia
Superintendent Wheeler said the border enforcement had helped police intercept kilograms of drugs, seize stolen cars and catch people with illegal weapons.
“On the first day, March 26, a NSW man came to the border checkpoint in a stolen vehicle … He was wanted on warrant for drugs,” he said.
“He had a paper number plate he had written by hand … We’ve seen some pretty interesting things.
“A few weeks ago police located 8kg of cocaine in a vehicle. In May, 93kg of cannabis was found in a car.
“Part of regulating movement of people and vehicles is you get the positive by-product of being able to disrupt, prevent, investigate and respond to crime as well.”
Queensland’s road border will open for all from 1am on Tuesday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Steve HollandSource:News Corp Australia
It comes as Queensland launched a major tourism campaign, expected to reach more than eight million visitors from NSW and Victoria.
After keeping them locked out for nine months, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told NSW and Victoria “we want you”.
“It’s only thanks to the way Queenslanders managed this health crisis that we’re now in a strong position – and able to welcome back tourists for Christmas,” she said.
“From the reef to the rainforest and from Coolangatta to the Cape, Queensland really does have something for everyone.
“There’s nothing better than Christmas holidays in the Sunshine State. If you’re living in NSW and Victoria and you’re looking for a holiday, we’re urging you to come to Queensland where life is beautiful one day and perfect the next.”
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