The Australian State of Queensland will open its borders to the state of Victoria on Dec. 1, allowing people to travel freely between the two states without quarantine, as all states in Australia’s east coast continue to record zero local cases of COVID-19.
The state’s health department confirmed the news on Wednesday, one day after Queensland decided to open its borders to the whole state of New South Wales (NSW), including the greater Sydney area from Dec. 1.
“We’re absolutely prepared for the influx of people for the Queensland holidays. In fact, just yesterday we saw a 250 percent increase in some of our tourism operators across Queensland so that is absolutely wonderful news,” Premier of Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk told a press conference on Wednesday.
Palaszczuk said they have examined some key indicators in other states, including 28 days of no community transmission, testing rate and results from sewage water testing analysis before making the decision to open its borders.
Many tourist hotspots in the state, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Gold Coast which had been hit by the loss of international tourists amid the pandemic were expected to benefit most from the latest easing of border restrictions, she said.
Following the news, major Australian airlines Qantas, Jetstar, and Virgin Australia all announced that hundreds of extra flights would be added to the routes from NSW and Victoria to Queensland before Christmas.
“The aviation and tourism industries rely on a connected nation and we welcome the Queensland government’s decision to reopen the state’s borders to Victoria and New South Wales from Dec. 1,” Virgin Australia’s General Manager Network and Revenue Management Russell Shaw said in a statement.
“We are already seeing a significant increase in traffic to our website and bookings between the two states, so we’ll be resuming direct services from Melbourne to popular leisure destinations such as the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Cairns.”
Qantas and Jetstar said in a statement on Tuesday that they will operate more than 1,200 extra return flights into Queensland from New South Wales and Victoria in the lead up to Christmas.
From Dec. 1, the two airlines will operate more than 250 return flights per week across seven routes from Sydney, comparing with just 36 return flights per week currently.