Police fury as 700 turned around at border
FED-UP police are furious at the growing rush of southerners trying to sneak in to Queensland as the coronavirus pandemic threatens to explode.
As Victoria recorded its worst-ever single day tally of new infections, Queensland police on Monday recorded the highest number of people being turned around at Gold Coast checkpoints since the state's borders were reopened on July 10.
Police arrest alleged border 'runner'While most of the one million people to have applied for border passes since July 3 have been allowed entry, police are growing increasingly frustrated at the behaviour of a minority which could place Queensland lives at risk.
The number of people who have been turned away from Queensland at Gold Coast checkpoints yesterday soared past 700, while a dramatic police chase led to the arrest of a man on the sand dunes of Kirra Beach after he allegedly fled a checkpoint at Gold Coast Airport.
It will be alleged he was the subject of an outstanding warrant.
He allegedly fled from the airport, before running through the streets of Coolangatta and Kirra, changing clothes taken from a local apartment before being apprehended on the beach.
Police expect to lay charges on Tuesday.
Another 19 people have been fined since July 10 for failing to comply with Queensland's COVID-19 border direction.
Victoria yesterday reported 532 new coronavirus cases, with the state's death toll now climbing above 80, while fears are rising in NSW as 17 new cases were recorded linked to outbreaks stemming from a Thai restaurant and a Bankstown funeral.
There is also growing outrage at the number of confrontations between police and self-righteous citizens refusing to co-operate with health warnings in southern states.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has vowed to slam the border shut to emerging hot spot areas, while the Gold Coast's top cop, Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler, said police would be 'ready at a moment's notice' if the call was made.
He also hit out at people defying health warnings by trying to gain access to Queensland from COVID-19 hot spots in Victoria and Sydney that are now banned from entry.
"There are certainly some cases where people genuinely weren't aware (or new hot spots being declared), but it's frustrating that some people don't appear to be listening," he said.
"Their actions are a risk to everyone and they're risking Queensland lives.
"It's really disappointing and it unnecessarily diverts our police resources at a time when we're trying to keep Queenslanders safe."
Queensland had another day of no new cases on Monday as the state's tough border restrictions tighten to ban more than 600,000 Sydney residents.
Ms Palaszczuk said the Government would not hesitate to slam the border shut to further hot spots if there was more community transmission interstate.
She said she would only act on the advice of Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.
"Every single day we are monitoring what is happening in NSW," she said.
The Sydney local government area of Fairfield was yesterday officially declared a coronavirus hot spot, meaning anyone from the Sydney zone would be denied entry to Queensland.
Ms Palaszczuk thanked those working at the state's border with NSW where she said there had been considerable delays.
"There will be delays at the border, there is nothing I can do about that. There will be delays because we are protecting Queenslanders," she said.
Ms Palaszczuk said if the state wanted to keep its restrictions eased, Queenslanders would need to keep up with the social distancing and hand washing.
"Complacency is our enemy," she said.
"Anything can happen at any time."
Queensland currently has five active cases from a total of 1076 since the pandemic began.
The state's total pales in comparison to Victoria, which has passed 9000 cases - more than half still classified as active.
Four new cases were recorded at the neonatal intensive care unit at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, while community transmission was detected for the first time in the country town of Colac.
Victoria's chief health officer, Professor Brett Sutton, warned that even if case numbers stabilised, hospitals would come under increasing pressure.
"There will be challenges for hospital admissions and there will be increasing challenges for those who require ICU," he said.
"I think we'll see an increase in ICU cases in the next couple of weeks that will be more reflective of our total active cases."
Worldwide, the number of coronavirus cases has passed 16 million, with more than 650,000 deaths.
- additional reporting Jack McKay
Originally published as Police fury as 700 turned around at border