Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

Border crossings could change drastically when Queensland reopens next month, with the state government revealing that it is in talks with police about the possibility of conducting random wiretaps from 17 December.

While checkpoints on the southern gold coast will remain after the planned opening date, police can relax the policy of stopping and checking every vehicle crossing the border, regardless of whether the state has reached a 90 percent double vaccination rate.

Major changes, as Health Minister Yvette D’Ath predicted on Wednesday, could see motorists being randomly checked at the border or waved through instead of each car being stopped.

“I know there will be thousands and thousands of cars driving back and forth across the border every single day once we hit 80 percent,” she said.

“We want to make sure the cars can float and we are very aware of the Christmas holidays and everything that is coming – it will be even busier.

“So we work with the police through how we do it and whether it’s checking every single vehicle, whether it’s … random stops and checks, whether it’s just waving people through.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath speaks at a press conference at the COVID-19 Vaccination Center.
Yvette D’Ath says the government is working with police on the finer details.(ABC News: Alice Pavlovic)

‘Clear milestones’ ahead

Today, Queensland’s Minister for Employment and Small Business Di Farmer assured border business owners that the government was working “around the clock” to “streamline” the border crossing process when the state reopens.

Ms. Farmer’s comments came when she and Destination Gold Coast announced $ 1 million in “Play Money” discount coupons for struggling frontier companies.

“We have some very clear milestones ahead of us and they are not very far away,” she said.

“We know on 19 November – if we reach 70 per cent vaccination levels – that the restrictions will ease, and then on 17 December, if not in advance, we will see that people can cross the border – basically Queensland will be open to people from other states. “

Ms Farmer said she personally “advocates very strongly” to ensure that the opening of the state negatively affected border businesses.

A smiling, short-haired woman wearing a sleeveless outfit.
Di Farmer says the government is working hard to help business owners.(ABC Gold Coast: Tara Cassidy)

‘Red carpet’ for Play Money

As of today, 18,000 Play Money discount coupons will be available for redemption in the border zone, which includes Tugun, Currumbin, Currumbin Waters and Coolangatta.

They can be used in bars and restaurants and for accommodation, retail and other attractions.

The coupons are part of an emergency aid package announced in September, which also includes congestion grants for businesses.

Up to five coupons can be purchased at a time and they give the holder a discount of $ 50 or $ 100 of their choice, depending on the amount spent.

Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said companies that signed up would “roll out the red carpet” to anyone who bought the coupons.

A bespectacled late middle-aged woman stands smiling on a balcony overlooking a lawn.
Hillary Jacobs says companies are excited about the announcement.(ABC Gold Coast: Tara Cassidy)

‘Light at the end of the tunnel’

Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce President Hillary Jacobs admitted that some companies had not been able to survive border closures, but said the Play Money initiative could see the remaining operators make it through to Christmas.

“I think we need to face the reality that there are companies out there that are already closed,” she said.

“It’s not something any of us like to see – it’s a disappointment, but I think this is an opportunity to save some who will now be able to make it to Christmas.”

A smartly dressed woman in a shop painted in alluring pastel colors.
Coolangatta clothing store owner Philippa King says the lifeline could not have come at a better time.(ABC Gold Coast: Tara Cassidy)

Philippa King, who has owned the Olive and Vern retail store in Coolangatta for the past seven years, said she had lost 40 percent of her customers since the Queensland borders were closed.

“Right now we’re seeing lights at the end of the tunnel – people are coming back with great support,” she said.

“[The vouchers] could not have come at a better time for us.

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By Victor

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