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Sydney residents urged to cancel holiday bookings as Queensland reintroduces hard border with NSW

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Sydneysiders whose holiday plans have been dashed by Queensland’s border closure are being told to urgently cancel their bookings so others can snap them up.

Queensland’s acting Tourism Minister Scott Stewart says holiday accommodation is hard to find in the state.

“We’re expecting strong interest from interstate and Queensland holidaymakers in snapping up cancelled bookings from Greater Sydney,” he said on Tuesday.

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“Swift cancellations … will mean those who have missed out will be able to secure bookings and accommodation providers are less likely to be left out of pocket.”

Queensland on Monday shut its borders to anyone from Greater Sydney until at least 8 January after a coronavirus outbreak in the city’s northern beaches.

So far 83 people have been infected and the NSW government has introduced restrictions to stop the virus from spreading more widely across the city.

Outgoing federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham says one in 13 Australians rely on the tourism and hospitality sectors for work.

“My message to people is if you’re in a position to do so, take a travel credit, make plans to re-book as soon as you can into the future,” he told Nine on Tuesday.

“Understand there are Australian small businesses and Australian jobs doing it tough and we want to see support for those sectors for people continuing to travel as soon as it’s safe and possible to do so.”

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Mr Stewart said travellers from Greater Sydney usually account for 10 per cent of holiday bookings in the Sunshine State during the summer.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says “swift action” is being taken after Queensland Police caught people attempting to cross the border without the correct pass. 

“People will start to seeing barricades going up again this afternoon and it will be back to the strong border measures that we have seen in Queensland that have kept Queenslanders safe,” she told reporters on Monday.

There are now at least 83 cases linked to Sydney’s Northern Beaches cluster.

Ms Palaszczuk has urged those in Queensland who have been to the Northern Beaches since 11 December to get tested.

Twenty-six people linked to the outbreak are in hotel quarantine in Queensland. Twenty of those cases have returned negative COVID-19 results. 

Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the situation at the border was “concerning”.

“I can’t give the community confidence that we are picking everyone up as they are coming across the border – hence the need to move to a hard border closure,” he said.

“It is disappointing that we have seen that in a system that relies on the integrity and honesty of the community coming forward and some people are not doing the right thing.”

Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said police doing “random intercepts” had turned around 81 people and placed 112 in quarantine by 10.30am on Tuesday.

Fines of more than $4,000 can apply to those who make false declarations on border passes, he said, including whether they have been to a hotspot. 

Queenslanders in Sydney have been given until 1am on Tuesday to get home, but they will need to be tested for COVID-19 and go into self-isolation on arrival.

Queensland recorded one positive case of COVID-19 on Monday – an overseas traveller in hotel quarantine.

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.

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSWVictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania.

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