An emotional Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she will not be intimidated into relaxing her state's border amid sustained pressure from the NSW and federal governments ahead of the national cabinet meeting on Friday.
As NSW recorded eight new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the Queensland government agreed to absorb the northern town of Moree into the border bubble. However, Ms Palaszczuk warned she was not going to back down on her state's tough southern border, despite describing the pressure on her as "relentless".
"It is intimidating. But I will not be intimidated," Ms Palaszczuk said, blinking back tears.
The Premier said she did not expect to bend restrictions following discussions at national cabinet.
"Let me make it very clear – I will not be changing that course any time soon because you have seen the great results that have been occurring here in Queensland," Ms Palaszczuk said.
Victoria recorded 81 new coronavirus cases on Friday. The state's death toll rose by 59, including 50 deaths in aged care residents between July and August, which pushed the national toll to 737.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday the guideline set by the Queensland government of NSW needing to record 28 days without any cases of community transmission before it would reopen their border was "a pretty tall order" and not feasible.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Federal Parliament the national cabinet must create a roadmap to open borders, so they can give Australians a clear timeline to returning to a pre-COVID travel.
Of NSW's eight new cases, seven are locally-acquired and linked to known cases or clusters, according to the health department.
Three cases are contacts of cases linked to the August CBD cluster, two are linked to the St Pauls Catholic College, Greystanes, cluster and two are household contacts of previously reported cases linked to Liverpool Hospital.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Andrew Constance said while the decision was ultimately in the hands of NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant, there would be a huge amount of people that wanted to visit aged care facilities this Sunday on Father's Day.
Mr Constance said NSW had shown “a lot of resilience” in managing the coronavirus pandemic, with the state’s health workers proving to be the difference compared to Victoria.
“We’ve just got to be mindful, the virus is still amongst us, it can spike up at any point as we’ve seen but our contact tracing generally has been exceptional and that’s the difference between us and Victoria,” he said.
“There is no doubt that people are going to want to visit loved ones in aged care on Father's Day. There is no doubt that people are going to want to travel around.”
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said she was still concerned about cases in NSW and Victoria.
"Although we are seeing some encouraging signs of those numbers reducing, there are still too many cases, I believe, for us to be able to safely open the border between Queensland, NSW, Victoria and the ACT."
Dr Young defended her handling of exemptions, saying 900 NSW border residents were treated in Queensland hospitals in just the past week.
More to come
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