Residents who rely on crossing the NSW-Queensland border daily have vented their frustration as the checkpoint causes major delays and congestion.
Queensland Police say they have turned back more than 100 travellers attempting to enter the Sunshine State from the hotspots on Sydney’s northern beaches and the Harbour City more broadly amid an escalating coronavirus outbreak.
At 6am on Tuesday morning, fortress Queensland returned as police were forced to diligently check border passes to ensure the state remained safe from the deadly pandemic.
But the response to the health crisis in NSW is a significant inconvenience to those who live in the Tweed region and rely on border crossings for work or regular appointments, with many complaining on local community Facebook pages of delays of up to two and a half hours.
A heavily pregnant woman who had to enter the Queensland side of the border for a final check-up before giving birth said the placing of the checkpoint had caused mayhem in Tweed Heads.
One of three barricades is on Ducat Street, a suburban area in the region, which she says has led to “traffic everywhere”.
“Honestly it’s so bad and frustrating,” she told NCA NewsWire, but asked to not be identified.
“People can’t even leave their house. They should put the border further south on the highway and not in the middle of suburban streets.
“People try to shortcut and that causes traffic too.”
Queensland Police say they have implemented “hard infrastructure” at three points along the border — one on the M1 motorway, one at the Gold Coast border area, and another on Griffith Street.
“This is going to have some effect on people coming into Queensland,” Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler told reporters on Tuesday morning.
“It’s really important people who have been in New South Wales, particularly any of those areas since December 11, and if they’re in Queensland now they need to go and get themselves a COVID-19 test and they need to self-isolate.
“People who are travelling either into New South Wales and coming back or travelling from New South Wales coming into Queensland, it‘s critical that you get online and get yourself a border declaration pass.”
Chief Supt Wheeler pleaded for co-operation after a woman tried to lie her way through the checkpoint at 5.00am on Monday at the Gold Coast, refusing to admit she had travelled from the greater Sydney region.
She was turned back but she refused to take no for an answer.
“That person drove to the M1 checkpoint 10 or 15 minutes later and attempted to gain entry again,” he told reporters.
“Police had communicated with each other and that vehicle had been flagged. Police at the M1 also questioned this person.
“What it does show is that people will still try and unfortunately game the system and put our system to the test,” Chief Supt Wheeler said of the woman who was slapped with a $4000 fine.
The border closure will remain in place through the Christmas period and is scheduled to be reviewed on January 8.
“So people can expect to see this infrastructure in place at least,” Chief Supt Wheeler said.
“Until that point and until any other decision is made. That will create inconvenience and delays for people, so please plan your journey accordingly.
“Allow extra time for when you‘re coming into Queensland and travel to your own set of circumstances.”