Queensland will open its borders to New Zealand from 1am on Saturday, the Premier announced on live television on Friday.
Annastacia Palaszczuk told Today the “great success story of Queensland” and that of New Zealand had resulted in the chief health officer’s surprise decision.
“(Chief health officer) Dr Jeannette Young advised me late last night that New Zealand is good to go,” she said.
“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.”
Currently, those returning from Australia still have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival into New Zealand.
New Zealand has reached 28 days of no community transmission, culminating in Dr Young telling Ms Palaszczuk she was “more than happy” to allow Kiwis into Queensland.
“It’s a wonderful time of year to allow that to happen as well. All the stars are aligned at the moment, and fingers crossed that everybody is keeping a really tight reign on their hotel quarantine … That’s the biggest risk,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
New Zealand workers will also be able to work on Queensland fruit farms, which are desperate for workers.
Ms Palaszczuk said she continued to be concerned by hotel quarantine, with the rising number of infections in the northern hemisphere resulting in more cases being detected in hotel quarantine.
“We have more Australians returning home, and that’s a good thing,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“I think it is great to see returning Australians are getting home to their loved ones.”
Ms Palaszczuk will today attend the first in-person National Cabinet meeting in nine months, where leaders are expected to discuss returning traveller caps and whether international students should be allowed in.
She told ABC News she would be making her concerns about the risk students could pose to the wider community known.
“I’m very concerned about international students returning. The priority has to be on Australians coming home,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“I have always raised concerns about students not doing hotel quarantine … It’s a big protective measure.
“I would not like to see students allowed in to stay at dormitories on campuses. I think that’s a huge risk, not just to students, but a huge risk to the Australian population.”
It comes a day after Queensland announced indoor dancing would be allowed again from Monday.
The Premier said the announcement would be a big boost to the state’s youth, who had been hit hard by the pandemic.
“Young people will be celebrating next week when the dance floors open,” she said.