Even though Adelaide doesn’t yet meet the Commonwealth’s definition of a COVID hotspot (as pointed out by Andrew Clennell on Sky Australia today), the Queensland Government rushed to declare it one and to impose quarantine requirements on travellers from Adelaide, in stark contrast to the sensible wait-and-see approach of the NSW and Victorian Governments. Sky’s Andrew Clennell was right to call it a “knee-jerk reaction”. Possibly the Queensland Government is worried about its testing and tracing capabilities and its ability to get on top of a coronavirus outbreak if one were to occur. So it’s quick to shut down interstate travel at the first indication there may be any risk of COVID getting into Queensland, no matter how small.
Imposing quarantine requirements on travellers from Adelaide probably won’t matter a great deal to the Queensland economy via direct impacts, but it does reinforce the impression held by many in the business community that the Government is overly risk-averse on borders and doesn’t care much about the adverse impacts its decisions are imposing on industry. Many tourism operators will be worried Queensland won’t fully reopen to interstate travel by Christmas, and they’ll miss out on trade that would help them make up for heavy losses of trade earlier in the year (see my post from last Saturday).
Queensland runs the risk of becoming a hermit state if the COVID vaccine doesn’t end up being as effective or safe as we expect. Furthermore, the actions of our state government are undermining the Federation. We are treating fellow Australians as foreigners. We are inviting residents of other states to treat us as foreigners in the event of an outbreak of COVID here, or the outbreak of another disease sometime in the future.
The near future remains as uncertain as ever. We hope this Adelaide outbreak is contained and our Queensland Premier honours her alleged commitment to PM Scott Morrison to drop border restrictions by Christmas, although of course that decision may not be up to her, but instead up to our Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young. Hence, there’s no guarantee that interstate travel will be free and that families can reunite over Christmas.