Second Coast hotel to be used for quarantine

 

POLICE are eyeing up a second Gold Coast hotel to quarantine incoming Victorians and internationals as they brace for more traffic congestion at the trouble-plagued border barriers.

Gold Coast Police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said they were "exploring" options for a second hotel to use due to Voco at Surfers Paradise nearing capacity.

The Voco Hotel has been used as 14-day quarantine for some domestic and returning international travellers since late March.

Supt Wheeler said with flights resuming at Coolangatta incoming passengers would be "heavily scrutinised" and he pleaded with Victorians to stay away or risk being quarantined at their own expense.

The hotels would be staffed by police 24/7 with assistance from partner agencies.

Queensland Police stop and inspect vehicles attempting to enter Queensland at the Griffith Street Coolangatta border crossing. Photo: Scott Powick.
Queensland Police stop and inspect vehicles attempting to enter Queensland at the Griffith Street Coolangatta border crossing. Photo: Scott Powick.

It comes as Gold Coast's top cop hinted at the reopening of the border crossing at Miles St Coolangatta to alleviate travel times for locals, following heavy traffic on Friday.

Police having been using the checkpoint as an access point for emergency services and a decision on again using the road for local traffic will be made this week.

From noon Friday to noon Sunday, police intercepted 2000 vehicles at the border, with 64 vehicles containing 105 people refused entry.

A further 14 people were directed into hotel quarantine, with 11 arriving via the Gold Coast Airport and three at the border barriers.

Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler. Picture: Jerad Williams
Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler. Picture: Jerad Williams


Changes to the border pass system on Friday with short notice caused chaos on the roads. While many commuters adapted to the changes at the weekend, police are now bracing for heavy traffic congestion ahead of the working week.

"We anticipate there will be challenges again and what we would say is that people really do need to plan their trips accordingly, allow extra time, be patient," Supt Wheeler said on Sunday.

"We are trying to process these vehicles as quickly as possible. We're trying to balance the ability to get people into the state but also to make sure that COVID-19 doesn't come in with anyone. That's really important that we apply an appropriate level of scrutiny and get that balance right."

Supt Wheeler also confirmed concerns had been raised about people with luggage getting out of vehicles in New South Wales and travelling to Queensland on foot.

"With any system there will always be people who try to game the system," he said. "This is probably a bit more serious, this is actually committing a criminal offence and there are heavy fines that apply for entering Queensland without a border declaration pass, or making a false declaration."

Queensland Police inspect cars at Tugun outside the Gold Coast Airport border crossing. Photo: Scott Powick.
Queensland Police inspect cars at Tugun outside the Gold Coast Airport border crossing. Photo: Scott Powick.

Queensland's border will be opened to all states and territories, except Victoria, from July 10.

A new border declaration pass was required from noon Friday.

LNP Member for Currumbin Laura Gerber said the border checks were holding up frontline medical staff, ambulances and parents trying to ferry kids to school.

Police Minister Mark Ryan has defended the "tough" measures as necessary to protect Queenslanders. "To stop this virus coming to Queensland we have already taken tough action and we will continue to take tough action," he said.

Originally published as Second Coast hotel to be used for quarantine


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