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Border squeezing shut again as 104 Sydney suburbs banned from entering Qld

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Queenslanders have been warned against travelling to NSW amid concerns virus outbreaks could get out of control as residents and travellers who have been in 104 Sydney suburbs will be banned from entering the state from Monday.

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Police will ramp up checks from 1:00am Monday to prevent people from 27 NSW suburbs within the Fairfield local government area, in addition to Liverpool and Campbelltown and all of Victoria, entering Queensland.

Queensland has recorded two new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours – both returned overseas travellers who tested positive in mandatory hotel quarantine.

A record six Victorians have died from coronavirus, as the state records 300 new cases.  Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed on Friday the dead were all connected to aged care facilities and three were aged in their 90s and three in their 80s.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young urged people not to travel and to return to Queensland to avoid potential virus hotspots.

“I think this is a time for all of us to be concerned. I think this is a time for people to think twice before they travel interstate,” she said.

“My advice is if you don’t wish to spend two weeks in a hotel, come back to Queensland before then.”

On the Queensland border, police have warned that while they were focused on enforcing COVID measures, travellers should not be lulled into thinking authorities were taking their eye off other criminal behaviour. Police revealed they had charged a couple after discovering drugs, a gun and ammunition in a bag in the boot of their stolen car while they were trying to cross the border on the M1 at the Gold Coast.

Police allegedly stopped the car around 8:45pm on Wednesday and discovered drugs inside the vehicle and the modified pump-action shotgun and ammunition in a bag in the boot.

A 24-year-old Waterford man has been charged with one count each of unlawful possession of weapons Category D/H/R weapon, offence in relation to unauthorised and prohibited explosives, bringing stolen goods into Queensland, forgery and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

A 23-year-old Lismore woman has been charged with two counts of possessing a dangerous drug (namely amphetamine and cannabis).

Both are scheduled to face Southport Magistrates Court in August.

Gold Coast Police Chief Superintendant Mark Wheeler said even with the increased police border presence and around 60 Australian Defence Force soldiers assisting at peak periods, people were still trying to commit criminal offences and sneak into the state.

“But with the police we have working on these border checkpoints, they are ever-vigilant. So it’s not just about stopping the spread of COVID-19, it’s about detecting criminal offences,” he said.

Police warned the new intensified checks would cause more delays at the border from Monday.

“People will have all weekend to get up to date with this and when it comes in won’t be at a peak period,” Wheeler said.

“Please be patient, please plan your trips, but above all I urge you to get those declarations in order.”

Queensland Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski warned Queenslanders against complacency and to maintain social distancing.

“If we don’t get that right and it does re-establish itself in this state, there is no doubt that we will have to think about further lockdowns and further restrictions,” he said.

“The threat of COVID to this state and community is undiminished because there is no cure for it, so if it gets in we’ve got a problem.”

More than 82,000 vehicles have been subject to police inspections at Queensland road border checkpoints and 2081 people have been refused entry to the state.

A total of 913,000 border declaration passes have been sought since they were released on 3 July.

Gollschewski said border checks and crackdowns were likely to continue for at least another six months to keep COVID locked out of Queensland.

“This is not over, we’re six months in and we’re probably not even halfway through this response to be really honest,” Gollschewski said.

“Our primary focus is to make sure that COVID-19 does not re-establish itself in Queensland as we’re seeing in other parts of Australia and indeed across the world.”

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas

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