Queensland’s border with NSW remains open, subject to restrictions and hotspot declarations, however a weekend police operation prompted has uncovered serious weaknesses.
The heavy vehicle industry was given special consideration to keep freight moving during the pandemic but is now seen as a potential threat to communities in Queensland. It comes as other states reveal rising COVID-19 numbers, but Queensland has again recorded no new community-acquired cases, with local restrictions due to ease at the end of the week.
Acting premier Steven Miles today said the routine testing of drivers had seeming “lapsed” in some areas and many trucks had been found without the required paperwork.
“It’s absolutely critical for all of us that we improve compliance in that industry, particularly given that it appears to have been the vector by which the Sydney outbreak has reached Melbourne,” Miles said.
Queensland requires freight drivers to be tested every seven days, but Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said a period of low case numbers may have led to complacency.
“It’s important that requirement is immediately back in place so that any freight driver who arrives in Queensland from any declared hot spot, which today is all of Victoria and Greater Sydney… has had a test done in the seven days prior to them entering,” Young said.
That rule will be tightened, with any drivers who have been in the Sydney local government areas of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool required to not only test every three days, in line with a NSW order, but give a negative test result before being allowed into Queensland. The requirement of a negative result will be backdated 14 days from the day of proposed entry.
Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said a weekend blitz uncovered 83 trucks crossing the border without the appropriate passes.
“We found that 29 had come out of a hotspot without the appropriate pass,” Gollschewski said.
Gollschewski said only one person had been placed into hotel quarantine and one or two others were refused entry, as authorities shifted from an education phase to enforcement.
“Those that blatantly do the wrong thing can expect enforcement action to be taken,” Gollschewski said.
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