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Police rejoice as end to blockade puts 100 cops back on our streets

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Flattened garden beds remain the only evidence today of the “great wall of Coolangatta” hard border closure that stood for 470 days, as Gold Coast police admit the end of the border blockade has come as “a huge relief” for the stretched force.

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Gold Coast police Acting Chief Superintendent Rhys Wildman said around 100 officers would return to frontline policing today, as police numbers have been hit by the Omicron variant.

Many of the police would return to rapid action and highway patrols that were struggling with around 50 police on the Gold Coast unable to work due to Covid-19, he said

“It’s a huge relief for all our police who have been operating on these border checkpoints over the last 22 months, 470 days,” Wildman said.

“They are 24/7 operations and on the Gold Coast we have been running up to six checkpoints – we had five normal checkpoints and one heavy vehicle checkpoint which operated for a number of months. It’s a huge relief to get all those staff back.”

With Queensland’s border wall finally down, all domestic travel restrictions have been scrapped, allowing people to enter the state without the need for a border pass, proof of vaccination, or a negative Covid-19 test.

It’s the first time in almost two years that travellers have been able to freely enter the state.

The last of the border infrastructure was dismantled and removed Sunday, ending 61 border directions that were applied to travellers over 22 months, including seven different directions in 10 days during the Delta variant.

“For us, we have had to operationalise those border directions so officers can process people through those checkpoints as efficiently as possible. But the real challenge has been for our community, particularly the border community,” Wildman said.

“But now it’s over. It’s perfect timing for us.”

During the hard closure, police checked 3.3 million online border pass declarations and 3.68 million vehicles. They turned around 35,902 vehicles, preventing them from entering Queensland, and directed 20,247 people to quarantine.

Police also checked 1.8 million passengers who came in on 29,336 domestic flights. They refused 4,452 people entry domestically and directed 64,466 passengers into quarantine from domestic flights. They checked 4,112 international flights and met 117,182 overseas passengers.

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