Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken aim at Western Australia and Queensland over their strict border closures, saying they should only be in place for health reasons.
NSW residents’ hopes of travelling to Queensland soon have been dashed after the state recorded eight locally acquired cases on Thursday, three of which had already been flagged.
It takes the travel clock back to zero as Queensland has a strict benchmark of 28 days of unlinked community transmission before NSW residents can visit.
Of the eight new cases, one is being investigated while the rest are linked to a known cluster.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says businesses not properly following their COVID-safe plans will face the full force of the law.
“Our patience in relation to businesses not doing the right thing is wearing thin,” she told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.
WA is using the same strict benchmark as Queensland before allowing travel from eastern states.
Mr Morrison is concerned WA leader Mark McGowan is using the restrictions for economic protectionism, after the premier said a travel bubble with other states would only result in the west losing tourism dollars.
“Locking people in a state so they won’t spend money in other parts of the country, well that’s not the Australian way,” the prime minister told 2GB radio.
He criticised Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for keeping borders closed, arguing more people in NSW had returned to work than in her state.
“We need Queenslanders back in jobs.”
Victoria has recorded another 11 cases of coronavirus on Thursday but no deaths, keeping the national toll at 897.
The cases take Melbourne’s all important 14-day case average down to 9.7.
The city needs a 14-day average of five or fewer cases and no more than five mystery cases to ease restrictions on October 19.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says he knows the public wants certainty on when restrictions will ease, but decisions will be made based on the science.
“You only get one chance to take these safe and steady steps,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“I think the vast majority of Victorians are determined to do this in a safe way, in a steady way, so that we aren’t pinballing in and out of really onerous restrictions throughout the summer and well into 2021.”
Meanwhile, South Australia has extended its buffer zone with Victoria, easing restrictions on border communities.
The zone will increase to 70km on each side of the border, allowing more people to travel into SA or return from Victoria without needing to quarantine.
The prime minister is hopeful more will be done in coming weeks to ease border rules between NSW, Victoria and SA.