Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wrongly told breakfast television that travellers arriving from New Zealand at 1am on Saturday would no longer need to quarantine.
But the exception is only in place for specific allocated flights, the first of which is not scheduled to touch down in the Sunshine State until Wednesday.
The mix-up has created confusion at the Brisbane Airport and in medi-hotels where Queensland Health say some people may now be eligible for release if they entered the state from New Zealand in the last few days without mixing with other travellers from locations deemed as hotspots.
Flights from New Zealand are arriving on Saturday but include passengers who are connecting from other countries, meaning the requirements to skip quarantine won’t be met.
The quarantine-free flights need to be specifically organised by New Zealand authorities, Queensland Health confirmed.
“Anyone who travels to Queensland from New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight – where every passenger has only been in New Zealand in the past 14 days – will not be required to quarantine on arrival,” the state’s chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said.
“Anyone who doesn’t travel on a quarantine-free flight is still subject to 14 days mandatory quarantine.
“We have a New Zealand flight arriving in Brisbane today that isn’t a quarantine-free flight, which means those people will need to complete quarantine.”
The communication breakdown has created confusion at the Brisbane Airport and in medi-hotel sites, where Dr Young said some travellers may be in quarantine unnecessarily given the update to the travel restrictions.
“Our staff are working quickly on the ground to determine those who arrived in Queensland on a quarantine-free flight, so we can let them out of quarantine, provided they return a negative COVID-19 test,” Dr Young said.
“Unfortunately, those who didn’t travel on a quarantine-free flight will need to complete their 14 days of quarantine, because they’ve mixed with travellers from other countries.
“For the past 88 days, all of Queensland’s COVID-19 cases have been from overseas travellers and detected in hotel quarantine.
“The risk is simply too high to end their quarantine early.”
The mix-up has devastated those eagerly awaiting family and friends arriving from New Zealand.
Ronel Van der berg told Sky News her 70-year-old mother was told she could enter the Sunshine State for a long overdue visit with her grandson but she has now been forced into 14-day quarantine.
Ms Palaszczuk broke the news of the change to the travel restrictions on Friday morning.
“(Chief health officer) Dr Jeannette Young advised me late last night that New Zealand is good to go,” she told Today.
“So, visitors coming in from New Zealand from 1am tomorrow are welcome into Queensland.
“We are hoping that eventually New Zealand will not have to hotel quarantine upon return, and then there would be free flowing movement between the two.”
Only one more domestic border closure remains in place in Australia with Western Australia closed to South Australia, which Premier Mark McGowan has promised to ease on Christmas Day.