Growing calls to fast-track Sydney border opening
Queensland has been urged to bring forward its decision to open the border to Greater Sydney amid fears its ongoing closure will create huge economic damage.
Residents of Australia's most populous city have been barred from Queensland since December 21 when COVID-19 was rapidly spreading through Sydney's northern beaches - and a decision about whether to let them back in is expected this week.
About 36 local government areas across Sydney are still considered a hotspot according to the Queensland Government.
With New South Wales recording its 10th consecutive day with zero community transmission, calls are now growing for Queensland to immediately assess whether to bring forward the border decision.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has repeatedly said she would wait until the end of January to assess whether Sydney residents would be allowed into the state without isolating.
Leaders in the state's tourism and business community have called for borders to open as soon as possible, fearing the ongoing closure to five million Sydney residents will cause further economic damage.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland Policy Manager Amanda Rohan said the border opening would allow Sydney residents to plan a holiday north.
"The status of the border is based on health advice, but we do look forward to the review of that advice sooner rather than later," she said.
"Having free-flowing travel between states will relieve the stress for many businesses, as it will opening up the ability for people to plan any upcoming trips or holidays - especially with the Easter period ahead."
Australia's Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly on January 13 said Sydney's northern beaches were no longer considered a COVID-19 hotspot.
Victoria also relaxed its restrictions on Greater Sydney residents, except for the Cumberland Council area, on January 22.
However, Queensland has repeatedly stood firm on its border closure, with Deputy Premier Steven Miles saying Dr Young was applying the standard agreed to by Australia's expert medical panel.
On Sunday NSW recorded a week-long streak without any new local cases of COVID-19 with 11,433 tests conducted in the previous 24 hours.
The state has not reported a case of community transmission since January 17.
Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey on Sunday refused to be drawn on the border decision, insisting the government would continue taking Dr Young's advice.
"It's not always popular, the particular measures we have to take, but they keep people safe," he said.
Originally published as Growing calls to fast-track Sydney border opening