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Thousands try to dash across the Queensland border hours before it shuts to NSW and ACT

Thousands of motorists are facing heavy queues as they make a last-minute dash across the Queensland border before it shuts to NSW and the ACT.  

Residents who have been in NSW and the ACT over the past 14 days will not be allowed to enter the Sunshine State from 1am on Saturday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who had already barred travellers from Greater Sydney and Victoria, declared the state and territory to be COVID-19 hotspots. 

Ms Palaszczuk defended her decision to close borders to NSW, saying she didn’t want her state to become the next Victoria. 

‘It only takes one or two people coming into Queensland and we could have a situation like is unfolding in Victoria,’ she said.

‘I do not want that to happen here.’

Victoria is battling a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections, with 7,449 active cases across the state.

There are fears the outbreak has jumped the border to NSW, where there are now 104 active infections. 

Road access to Queensland will be blocked to all vehicles once the border closes except those from border communities and freight. 

Vision from the border checkpoint at Coolangatta showed hundred of cars lined in bumper-to-bumper traffic.  

Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski expects two-hour delays at vehicle checkpoints up to the 1am deadline.

‘I know that’s very tight for everybody,’ he told ABC radio on Friday.

About 6,000 vehicles have been checked in the past day and 68 people have been turned around.

More than 3,000 travellers have flown into the state in the past 24 hours to beat the hard border lockdown.    

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the reintroduction of border controls is to keep Queenslanders safe from further COVID-19 infection.

‘New South Wales has done such a brilliant job to maintain where they are, but despite that they are still seeing, every single day, cases that they can’t link back to known outbreaks,’ she said.   

‘So that’s why we really, to keep Queenslanders safe, we needed to reinstitute those border controls.’

Dr Young said she understands the closures create ‘a lot of inconvenience’. 

‘We have seen large numbers of Queenslanders coming back through the borders in the past few days, which is good,’ she said. 

People from non-hotspot locations will have to travel by air or via the Northern Territory border.

The decision to close the border will be reviewed at the end of August.

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