Queensland will shift its border zone 100km further south from next weekend, throwing open the door to residents in five more NSW council areas including Byron Bay.
Residents of Byron Shire, Ballina, the city of Lismore, Richmond Valley, including Casino and Evans Head, Glen Innes and 41 other NSW postcodes will be added to the Queensland-NSW border bubble from 1am on October 1.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says 125,000 more NSW residents will be able to travel freely in her state and Queensland residents will also be able to visit far northern NSW.
“These areas have a lot in common with Queensland,” she said.
“They usually do a lot of their business in Queensland so we believe that this is the right measure to take and we have also been in contact with the NSW authorities to advise them of this today as well.”
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said it was safe to extend the border bubble because there had been no new cases of COVID-19 in the NSW border areas, or north of Sydney, for quite a while.
She said travel restrictions on residents from wider NSW, including Sydney, would be reviewed at the end of the month.
Dr Young’s office is keeping a close eye on the recent case of a taxi driver who worked while possibly infectious in western Sydney.
The announcement of NSW border changes come as Queensland prepares to welcome ACT travellers back up north on Friday.
The border will open only to Canberrans who arrive by plane and anyone coming from NSW via the ACT will have to wait 14 days before being allowed to fly.
Queensland recorded no new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 9am on Tuesday and 12 days have passed since there was a case of community transmission.
The state has just 16 active cases on Tuesday, clustered around Ipswich in the southeast.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said Queensland is just two days away from possibly relaxing gathering restrictions on people in Brisbane and seven other council areas. At present, only 10 people can meet in homes without a COVID-safe plan.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington criticised the state government for denying Toowoomba man David Jonsson permission to quarantine at home after he had brain surgery in NSW.
“Sadly, David is another victim of Annastacia Palaszczuk using borders as a political weapon,” she told 4BC radio in Tuesday.
“If David was an AFL star or “bringing a lot of money” into Queensland, he would have been waved through.”
The Liberal National Party and federal Coalition have been taking aim at the state Labor government over harsh quarantine rules for the general public compared with special provisions offered to AFL executives and US actor Tom Hanks under approved industry COVID-safe plans.