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Victory for common sense as restrictions eased for boarders

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Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young grants travel exemptions for boarders from areas of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory with no active COVID-19 cases.

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The Queensland Government has quietly waived its tough coronavirus border restrictions for boarding school students from interstate.

The state’s Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young granted travel exemptions for students who hail from areas of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) with no active COVID-19 cases.

The move, made on Sunday, allows students to reunite with their families without mandatory hotel quarantine, almost two months after the Queensland Government declared all of NSW a coronavirus hotspot.

However, boarders are required to “not leave the boundary of their primary place of residence” and are allowed no visitors while they are there.

Year 11 Fairholme College student Sophie Hann said she would now head home to her parents’ property at Bellata, around 50 kilometres south of Moree.

“I talked to them this afternoon; they were really excited … I haven’t seen them since the start of term,” she said.

She said before the changes were announced she would have spent the school holidays with her older sister on the Sunshine Coast.

“It was pretty sad, missing out on the things at home,” she said.

Hann said now that she was going home for the holidays, she planned to help her family with cattle work and ride her horse.

She said the exemption from quarantine would also allow her to focus on her studies after the school holidays.

“It will make it a lot easier because I start my grade 12 studies next term, so it’ll make it easier doing all that.”

Young wrote to Department of Education director-general Tony Cook to flag the exemption for “primary and secondary boarding school students” and their parents or guardians, in a letter published on a government website.

Parents or guardians from those areas deemed exempt from restrictions will be able to enter Queensland by road to collect their children from school.

They must return home on the same day they enter and “by the most direct route practicable”, Dr Young said in the letter.

Parents can travel back to Queensland under the same conditions to return their children to school.

The students will not be required to quarantine on return to Queensland, provided they stay at home while interstate and there are no visitors, except for “persons who are essential to the operations of the residence”.

The exemptions also apply to “unaccompanied minors” who enter by road to return to school in Queensland.

A local government area of NSW and ACT will be considered to have no active cases if there have been no new reported cases “within the past four weeks”, Young said.

Young said students and their parents or guardians did not need to complete a Queensland border declaration pass when travelling to the state.

But they must carry a letter from a school confirming enrolment, and a statutory declaration from the parent or guardian that the student’s home was in an area with no active cases.

They would also need to prove they had complied with all conditions, and have identification for both the student and parents or guardians.

– ABC / David Chen and staff

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