National

Call for Queenslanders to head back home

By AAP Newswire

Queenslanders are being urged to head home as the state prepares to reinstate a hard border lockdown with NSW this week.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the closure on Wednesday as Australia recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic so far.

The state recorded just one new case overnight taking the state's number of active cases to 11.

But the small yet persistent number of people trying to dodge quarantine health measures had forced her hand, the premier said.

"I will not risk the safety of Queenslanders and I will not risk our economy," she told reporters.

The Sunshine State will close its border with NSW and ban ACT residents from 1am Saturday.

Road access will be blocked to all vehicles except those from border communities and those carrying essential workers.

Returning residents will also have to undergo a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Ms Palaszczuk says the health measures will help Queensland avoid the kind of economic damage being inflicted on Victoria.

But Queensland's tourism chief warned the latest lockdown could represent the final nail for some businesses.

"It's another blow for an industry punch drunk from six months of bad news," Daniel Gschwind from the Queensland Tourism Industry Council said.

The industry supported hundreds of thousands of jobs and businesses which were now at stake, he added.

"It saps confidence and our capacity to plan for the future. We struggle to see how we can navigate out of this."

The border restrictions come after Queensland police cleared a man of wrongdoing for travelling into the state on a diplomatic exemption.

The man in his 20s flew from Kabul to Sydney then on to the Sunshine Coast on Friday.

He was carrying an exemption provided by NSW authorities and a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade letter.

However, it was later revealed he was a private security contractor for Australia's embassy and was not entitled to a consular exemption.

He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Sunday and is in self-isolation with his wife in Toowoomba.

DFAT have denied they assisted in the man's exemption application, which was apparently drafted on a department letterhead.

The trip prompted the premier on Tuesday to remove a federal government loophole allowing diplomats and consular officials to be exempt from hotel quarantine in Queensland.

More than a dozen notices have been issued in the past week to people for allegedly lying on border entry paperwork.

Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said a man had been charged after allegedly trying to skirt quarantine by driving from NSW to the ACT to catch a flight to Brisbane, then heading on to Cairns.

He allegedly told police he was "frustrated" with the restrictions and "wanted to go to work".

Meanwhile, three men from Logan, south of Brisbane, have tested negative to the virus after being caught allegedly trying to dodge quarantine after travelling from Melbourne.

They were issued with court notices and placed in quarantine by police.