‘Border dodger’ teens trigger crackdown
Border checkpoints at train stations will come under closer scrutiny after two teenagers returned to the Sunshine Coast from Sydney without undergoing mandatory quarantine.
The teenagers, aged 15 and 16, returned to Queensland before the state's borders shut and were taken into police custody for COVID-19 testing.
They were found at Noosa Civic Shopping Centre on Monday morning, with some shops believed to have closed as a precaution.
Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan said he would discuss the border checkpoints with the Police Commissioner, after the teenagers allegedly managed to circumvent border restrictions.
Mr Ryan defended the system, saying there were "very strict processes in place", but he admitted people can sometimes "defeat the system".
"Sometimes people are going to lie, sometimes people are going to defeat the system," he said.
He warned anyone who made it through border checkpoints by lying could still be contacted at a later date by police.
"Those people will be found out and they can expect a response from the Queensland Police Service," he said.
"This includes follow-up work from police and getting information from the community to ensure people are doing the right thing.
"We are proactive, police are taking this seriously."
Speaking to media on Monday afternoon, Superintendent Craig Hawkins said the girls, aged 15 and 16, arrived back in Queensland from Sydney before the borders closed but allegedly breached the chief health officer's directives regarding quarantine and testing.
It's believed the teenagers returned to Brisbane last Friday via train before travelling to the Sunshine Coast.
Supt Hawkins said they did not have any COVID-19 symptoms but will be made to undergo testing.
"We have no information to suggest they are carriers of the disease," Supt Hawkins said.
"There is no need to panic."
He said the girls did not tell police where they had travelled from.
"They weren't completely honest with where they had been," he said.
"But later on we discovered that they had come from a hot spot."
Supt Hawkins said police had been looking for the two "young ladies" for 24 hours.
"We became aware of these two young ladies who had entered through Brisbane and made their way to the Sunshine Coast," he said.
"They arrived from hotspot Sydney last week and police were looking for them to check the veracity of their travel and to ensure they could be tested.
"We were fortunate to find these ladies today and they are now co-operating with police to … be tested.
"There is no information to suggest they are carriers … we are taking precautions."
Mr Hawkins said the teenagers had failed to comply with the chief health officer's directives, but given their age they would investigate whether the pair knew what they were doing when they arrived back in Queensland.
"There's a couple of ways we might deal with these young ladies, we're working through that process now," he said.
"Quarantine is certainly a likely outcome."
He said whether they would be charged was yet to be determined given their age.
"They probably, maybe don't understand the full criteria of … CHO directives," he said.
Witnesses say they saw two girls be taken away in a police vehicle with masks on.
"Two young girls got stopped outside the shop and told to sit on the floor. Police gave them masks and shut all the doors of the shops. We're all locked in," one woman said.
With Ellen Ransley
Originally published as 'Border dodger' teens trigger crackdown