The first flight from Sydney to Brisbane has arrived in Queensland this morning when the border finally reopens.
Masked passengers disembarking from the plane were greeted with cheers by airport staff in Brisbane, and many travelers were eager to see family or return to work.
A female passenger told Today’s Aislin Kriukelis that she was there to see the family and surprise her parents.
He hadn’t seen his parents since the beginning of the year.
“Very excited. Yes, it has taken a long time to arrive. I am very happy.”
While another said, “First flight home. No isolation. You beauty. I made it.”
The first cars crossed the old checkpoints just after 1 a.m. M. (2 a. M. AEDT), between applause.
The removal of borders has long been awaited by Queensland tour operators, who are bracing for an influx of travelers.
While in Melbourne, there are 15 scheduled departures to the Gold Coast and Brisbane.
Authorities will no longer monitor border bases at highway checkpoints, as documentation is no longer needed to cross from one state to another.
But drivers waiting to cross the New South Wales-Queensland border are being warned of a break in their journey starting tonight as police work to remove barriers that previously kept people out.
“For 250 days we have been asking the community for a little patience, I’m going to ask them for a few more hours to be a little more patient,” Queensland Police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler told Today.
“Starting at 8pm New South Wales time tonight (7pm Queensland), we will stop all traffic on the M1, thus closing the northbound lanes, we have several hundred meters of heavy barriers of concrete to remove and to actually do it safely it will stop traffic traveling on the M1 northbound, but there will be a really simple traffic detour instead.
“They’ll just detour onto the Gold Coast Highway and then onto Stuart Road. It won’t add a lot of time to the journey at all.
“At this time tomorrow morning we anticipate being completely out of the area and it is quite a complex operation to remove all the infrastructure from the checkpoints.”
He praised the work of the police who have been controlling the checkpoints for 250 days.
“It has been critical to keep COVID-19 out of Queensland,” he said.
“And what we have seen is that the police at our border checkpoints broke the curve, stopped the entry of COVID-19 into Queensland and now we are in a position to do the exact same thing with crimes and crimes committed on the roads.
“So of course it’s great that they get back to their duties, but I think everyone will look back on their careers and understand that this is one of the most important jobs they have ever done.”
Anyone from Victoria and New South Wales in hotel quarantine in Queensland can now leave, even if they haven’t completed their 14-day isolation.
During the eight months without access to the country’s largest populations, there have been 5.5 million border applications, 21,000 people rejected and border transfers as people struggled to enter Queensland. Families have missed weddings and funerals, and tour operators have seen the industry crumble.
But some residents of South Australia remain excluded from the state due to the recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Adelaide.
That includes residents in 20 Adelaide local government areas, which Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said will be reassessed next week.