South Australia has followed Queensland in deciding to reopen their borders with New South Wales.
The change comes into effect on Sunday as a partial border reopening in South Australia for Greater Sydney residents. Queensland’s border will reopen to all people in NSW from Monday.
Gladys Berejiklian welcomed the full reopening of the border with Queensland as NSW records its 11th straight day without a locally acquired COVID-19 case.
“Fantastic, good news,” Ms Berejiklian said when told of the development on 2GB radio.
“I hope that this brings a lot of joy and relief to people and that people are reunited.”
NSW recorded zero new local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday and three cases in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
Ms Berejiklian declined to criticise her Queensland counterpart Annastacia Palaszczuk for hearing the news second hand, saying the important thing was “the right outcome is achieved”.
Queensland closed its border to 35 local government areas in Sydney, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains on December 20 amid a COVID-19 outbreak, throwing Christmas family reunions into disarray.
Ms Berejiklian noted NSW had not had a hotspot for “quite a while” and “even when we do, I don’t think the whole state needs to suffer”.
There were lots of tools states could use to manage an outbreak, she said.
“You should only close borders as a last option,” she said.
Greater Sydney will on Friday ease restrictions on mask wearing as well as the number of visitors allowed in homes and at other gatherings and functions.
In South Australia, the changes from Sunday mean travellers will not be required to quarantine but must have a coronavirus test on days one, five and 12.
They must also isolate until they receive a negative result from the day one test.
27 Jan 2021: NSW eases COVID-19 restrictions after run of zero cases
South Australia Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said the change could be reviewed if any new cases emerged in Sydney during the next two days.
But he said he was confident it would reach SA’s threshold of 14 days without community transmission.
“This is the most reasonable step we can put in place that allows that freedom of movement between NSW and South Australia,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ms Palaszczuk said authorities are prepared to shut down the borders again if necessary to contain any future outbreaks of COVID-19 overseas variants.
“We have to be vigilant at the moment, in terms of the UK variant of COVID. We are very concerned about that.
“I think you will see a lot more of a collective response from premiers and chief ministers to try to get this right. As we’ve seen, the hotspot program has been working quite well.”
Ms Palaszczuk said she was still putting together a proposal to shift city hotel quarantine to regional camps with two options being explored.
“These (camps) are like four star, they’re not like two star, and they’re very well ventilated and there’s lots of room to move and everything, and then you have all your workers on site as well, there’s less risk,” she said.
“Our quarantine is our last line of defence, and if that UK strain gets out now in our community, I am really really concerned what that will do to our economy.
“It could decimate our economy, not for weeks, but for months so I think we all need to be on our guard.”
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.