‘Are they going to put barbed wire through Coolangatta?’
QUEENSLAND Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will shut the gates on the rest of the world from tomorrow.
All she has to do now is tell furious leaders and tens of thousands of state-hopping workers how it will work.
The state's borders with NSW and the Northern Territory will close from midnight tomorrow after Cabinet voted for the lockdown in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The Coast and Tweed region is unique because the border straddles the city's south and runs through Gold Coast Airport and central Coolangatta.
A number of other states across Australia have closed their borders.
The Premier made the announcement on Twitter at 12.39pm yesterday without clarifying what it meant for workers and families who cross the border daily.
More than an hour later she provided a brief explanation: "Queensland's border closure will take effect at midnight on Wednesday. The Queensland Disaster Management Committee will meet (today) to finalise details - including exemptions - and more detail will be released at that time."
It's understood it is not designed to stop workers but aimed at preventing tourists travelling back and forth.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate was furious at the announcement and said people on both sides of the border deserved answers.
"By not providing detail, it creates uncertainty in our community during what is already a trying time. I call on the Premier to give us the detail today," he said. "Gold Coasters, the most affected by this, have a right to know.
"I'm also calling on the Premier to work with her NSW counterpart to ensure that all essential personnel such as police, nurses, paramedics and doctors will continue to be able to move freely to undertake their vital work.
"I also need employers to be pulling out all stops at this point to enable their staff to work from home at this time - this is our new reality."
Queensland Health last night said essential medical services or staff would not be affected.
Border closures and self-isolation rules will not apply to patients seeking essential treatment across the border, nor key health staff who travel for work.
About 60,000 vehicles use the Tugun bypass to cross the border daily while more than 10,000 people work in the Gold Coast Airport and Southern Cross University campus precinct.
The university last night confirmed it would continue to operate unaffected despite the border closure.
Queensland posted a record 60 new positive tests to coronavirus yesterday, eight of which were on the Gold Coast. It brought the state total to 319, behind NSW with 704 and Victoria (355). The Australia is 1709.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest said he was disappointed and deeply concerned about workers who lived either side of the border.
"About 25 per cent of patients at the Tweed Hospital are from Queensland," he said.
"And 30 per cent of Tweed's residents work in Queensland and 15 per cent of our children attend school there.
"It is totally irresponsible of the Queensland Premier to come out with that announcement without details or a way forward."
Mr Provest said he had confirmed with the NSW Premier the border would not be closed at Barneys Point Bridge, which is in NSW. It would be shut on Queensland turf, he said.
"I believe it is an agenda item to come up shortly and be discussed at the National Cabinet and I look forward to the outcome," he said.
"Half our medical staff, council staff and police force live in Queensland and there are no details - will they be able to travel or not?
"We are all Australians and we should be working together to get over this crisis, but this announcement has caused a massive amount of concern and undue stress for people who are already suffering.
"How are they going to enforce it? Are they going to put barbed wire across the main street of Coolangatta?"
Tweed Mayor Katie Milne said she wanted more information about how the decision would affect residents.
"There are obviously many people from both states who travel across the border to work, attend medical appointments and conduct business," she said.
"We would expect to be involved in talks with the Queensland and NSW governments and our local members about how the border closure will work in practice and we will be strongly advocating for the needs of the Tweed community."
Tweed Chamber of Commerce president Warren Polglase slammed Ms Palaszczuk's announcement as "total irresponsible".
"We need more responsibility from the Premier and to spell out how it's going to be administered," he said.
"With what's going on, and so quickly, we need commonsense opinions.
"The average person does not need this uncertainty."
Originally published as 'Are they going to put barbed wire through Coolangatta?'