Gold Coast and Tweed Heads face ‘a dog’s breakfast’ as border restrictions tighten

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There have been long delays at Queensland’s border as police check every vehicle and workers scramble to understand new restrictions.

As of 8:00pm Saturday, New South Wales border residents are only allowed to enter Queensland for essential reasons or permitted work.

President of the Greater Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce Hilary Jacobs says it means many businesses have lost access to staff.

“Small business who’ve got staff who live in NSW and are then told their business is not considered essential so they can’t come across the border,” Ms Jacobs said.

“We shouldn’t be in a situation where we look at whether there’s a line on a map that says this side of the street can go to work and that side of the street can’t.”

From Friday, essential workers with an exemption to enter Queensland — such as healthcare or emergency workers — must have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

‘We don’t have clarity’

Ms Jacobs says businesses must now navigate confusing restrictions for both NSW and Queensland.

“At the moment, it’s pretty much a dog’s breakfast,” she said.

“The rules change by the day.”

Tracey Bentley owns a grocery store at Banora Point in the Tweed Shire but lives in Southport.

“I have documentation to cover me as an essential service and I should be able to work out of the border to provide it,” she said.

But Ms Bentley said she was not classed as an essential worker under Queensland’s border restrictions.

“The ruling I’ve had from the government this morning is pretty much: It’s up to the border controller, whoever it may be when I pull up, whether they choose to let me back into Queensland,” she said.

“That’s a big risk to take.”

Andrew Chiodo owns a cafe in Tweed Heads within “seven minutes walking distance of the border” but nearly all of his staff live in Queensland.

“To try to separate Tweed from Coolangatta and Coolangatta from Tweed is too hard,” he said.

“We really are more attached to Queensland than New South Wales.

“I would have thought food was essential.”

Hundreds turned away

Police have intercepted 6,442 vehicles at border checkpoints in the 24 hours up to 5:00am today, with 606 vehicles turned around.

Gold Coast Acting Chief Superintendent Rhys Wildman says every vehicle will be checked.

“There’s going to be delays,” he said.

“Plan ahead, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time and have some patience.”

Acting Chief Superintendent Wildman said cross border residents should check the rules online.

“See exactly what the exemptions are and how they apply to your particular set of circumstances,” he said.

“Be prepared that when you approach the officer at the checkpoint, that you have that information ready to go and supporting evidence including letters from an employer.”

Education disruption

Thirty teachers at Palm Beach Currumbin State High School have been unable to cross the border for work.

A mother of a year 10 student Nicole McAtamney said she was not sure how it would impact learning.

“Our kids, they’re just missing out on so much,” she said.

“There’s just so much confusion involved in what’s going on.”

Another student’s parent, Kym Hearne, is frustrated that teachers are not considered essential, especially as seniors prepare for their final exams.

“It’s so hard for teachers to be juggling online learning as well as in class,” she said.

“It’d be really disruptive I imagine.”

Concerns virus moving north

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says with all of NSW in lockdown the “strict border measures are necessary and they will be enforced”.

Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young says more vaccines will be pushed to border communities.

But the LNP’s member for Currumbin Laura Gerber said there had been inconsistent messaging from the state government.

“This latest announcement of mandatory vaccines to be able to cross the border being done in a press conference with no details, with no consistent messaging, nor information for people to go to alleviate the anxiety,” she said.

“There are businesses in Coolangatta that are just boarded up today because either all their staff come from NSW or the business owner themselves lives NSW.”

by staff (Original ABC Article)