Heartwarming images have captured the moment couples and families were reunited after Queensland changed its border rules.
Brisbane Airport has no doubt hosted its share of emotional reunions, but the scenes at the arrivals gate this week certainly hit differently.
Since Monday evening, hundreds of Queenslanders have been united with family and friends after rising vaccination rates allowed for the early introduction of a border pass system.
The pass, which allows fully vaccinated people to fly in from Covid hotspots and complete their two weeks of quarantine at home, was initially forecast to go live on Friday when the 70 per cent double-vax milestone had been tipped.
But a pre-Christmas surge in jabs – perhaps encouraged by looming restrictions on the unvaccinated – pushed the state past that benchmark days ahead of schedule.
The development opened the state to a steady trickle of arrivals over the past five days, with Queensland Police reporting about 840 people in home quarantine as of Friday.
Hundreds more are in the queue to get back home, though many of the estimated 12,000 Queenslanders trapped interstate are waiting for the removal of quarantine requirements next month.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s road map to easing travel restrictions originally flagged December 17 as the target for 80 per cent vaccine coverage.
But acting chief health officer Peter Aitken on Friday said the state was on track to reach that target earlier than expected.
More than 72 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have received both doses of the jab and nearly 84 per cent have received one.
A final push could shave as many as 11 days off the reopening date – and pave the way for an even bigger reunion.
“It’s a projection so it could be anywhere between the 6th and the 12th of December depending on how the vaccination rates go,” Mr Aitken said.
Queensland entry requirements from Covid hotspots:
- Travellers who have been in a hotspot in the past 14 days can apply to arrive in Queensland by air
- Must be fully vaccinated
- Must have had a negative Covid test in the 72 hours before travel
- Must only be travelling within a two-hour drive from the airport they arrived at
- Must not take public transport, rideshare or taxi to their home from the airport
- Must quarantine at a home “with direct fresh air access to the front door” for 14 days
Entry requirements from Covid hotspots once 80 per cent is achieved:
- Travellers can arrive by air or road
- Must be fully vaccinated
- Must have a negative Covid test in the 72 hours before travel
- No quarantine required
Entry requirements when Queensland reaches 90 per cent vaccinated:
- Quarantine limited to unvaccinated only