‘Long delays, tech troubles’ as Qld expands border bubble
LONG delays and technological troubles have marred the "15th iteration of the border pass system" as Queensland reopened to 152,000 northern New South Wales residents.
It came as the state's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young told Queenslanders to prepare for new coronavirus outbreaks as borders reopen but not to panic or fear a return to lockdown.
From 1am Thursday, the State Government opened to visitors from Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glenn Innes shires. Tweed residents were already permitted.
Additionally, all Queenslanders were finally given the go-ahead to travel to designated northern NSW areas, which had been limited to residents within the ex-smaller border bubble area.
Motorists were queuing at the border to get into Queensland shortly after midnight.
But on Thursday some northern NSW residents were not able to obtain border passes because of a website error which resulted in their addresses being rejected.
Gold Coast police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler expected the glitch would be fixed quickly, but issues were still plaguing the Queensland Government website on Thursday night.
Supt Wheeler said anyone impacted by the glitch and unable to get a pass could still enter the state - with the right documentation.
"If they come to the border checkpoints with proof of ID and address, we will get them through," he said. "This is the 15th iteration of the border pass system and there are twists and turns whenever it changes.
"The first few days are invariably a bit of a rough road, which is why we ask people to be patient and make sure they are displaying their border passes."
A Queensland Health spokesperson said: "Some technical difficulties are currently being experienced with the border pass system which are expected to be rectified shortly."
"Queensland Police Service is currently processing border passes manually and anyone entering Queensland will need to present valid identification.
"We appreciate the public's patience while we work through this. The forms are regularly updated and further changes may be considered if deemed necessary."
Supt Wheeler flagged delays of about half an hour at checkpoints but said that was "not unexpected".
About 30 people had been refused entry after the border reopened to the northern NSW areas.
Meanwhile, Dr Young said new COVID-19 cases would likely crop up and community transmission may occur, but systems had been put in place to manage new outbreaks.
She expected restrictions would continue to ease ahead of Christmas.
"We will see further changes as we move towards the latter part of the year," she said.
"We also know now what to do if we do have a case because we are going to get more cases, that's inevitable.
"Across the world, there are well over 13 million cases and over a million deaths, so we will see cases coming to Queensland in the future, but we know how to manage them.
"We know what we need to do, so we can very rapidly respond but not have to close everything down as we had to do back in March, because we've now got those systems in place.
"That's a really good position for us to be in as we go into summer in Queensland."
Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles confirmed there had been no new coronavirus cases detected in Queensland overnight Wednesday.
The state only had four active cases with zero on the Gold Coast. A total of 1157 cases had been confirmed in Queensland since the global pandemic began.
Mr Miles said more than 5700 tests had been conducted in the previous 24 hours.
City leaders including Mayor Tom Tate and Destination Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan expected a significant boost for tourism with the bursting of the border bubble.
Mr Donovan described the changes as a "light at the end of the tunnel" after "the worst eight months" he had slogged through as the Gold Coast's tourism boss.
Originally published as 'Long delays and tech troubles' as Qld expands border bubble