New border checkpoint reopens for New Year to reduce delays
UPDATE THURSDAY 12PM:
The Ducat St/Miles St Queensland border checkpoint in Coolangatta has re-opened this morning.
DATE WEDNESDAY 5PM:
POLICE have confirmed two more checkpoints will open along the NSW Queensland border soon.
Despite not being able to give an official timeline, a Queensland Police Service spokeswoman confirmed the Miles/Ducat St border checkpoint would be re-opening and staff were currently "gathering resources".
Adding to Mudgeeraba MP Ros Bates' Facebook post earlier today, the QPS spokeswoman confirmed an additional checkpoint will be opened at Nerang-Murwillumbah Road Natural Bridge at 8am on January 2.
This will operate for eight hours a day, seven days a week.
"Commuters are reminded that delays will still be experienced and they should plan their journeys accordingly," the spokeswoman said.
Tweed Shire councillor James Owen said the long-campaigned for announcement would make resident's lives a lot easier in the hours of traffic congestion the current three border checkpoints were causing from the M1 through Tweed Heads.
"It's just common sense and it's disappointing they weren't open straight away," he said.
Mr Owen said while there was a strong local push for a 'locals' border pass to be created, he was yet to hear back from his letter to the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk about the issue.
He explained he supported the continued lockdown of the Northern Beaches to get COVID outbreak under control and ensure other regions, particularly the Tweed, stayed virus free.
"Hopefully these checkpoints won't be here too much longer," Mr Owen said.
"The Nerang Murwillumbah Rd checkpoint is huge news, I can't imagine what it would be like living all the way out there inland and needing to come across to get through the border."
Further border checkpoints are set to be reopened to relieve traffic heading into the Gold Coast for the New Year.
A checkpoint on Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd at Natural Bridge will be reopening according to a Facebook post from Mudgeeraba MP Ros Bates.
It will be reopening from Saturday and operate between 8am and 4pm, seven days a week.
Ms Bates' post said after liaising with Queensland Police and locals she could confirm the checkpoint was reopening.
"Thank you to locals for your patience and to Gold Coast police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler for his assistance," the post said.
It comes after the news a fourth Gold Coast checkpoint is set to open at Miles St at Kirra from 7am on Thursday.
A total of 330 vehicles, carrying 757 people have been refused entry to Queensland at road borders.
There have been 578,000 applications for border passes, which includes 34,000 since yesterday.
A FOURTH border checkpoint is expected to open in Coolangatta in an effort to try and help healthcare workers get to work on time.
The border was left in chaos as returning Queenslanders and holiday goers tried to make their way into the Sunshine State in the post Christmas rush at the weekend.
The fourth checkpoint on Miles Street, Coolangatta was call for by furious healthcare staff complained last week about huge delays making them late for work at Tweed Hospital.
About 40 per cent of healthcare staff at the hospital live in Queensland and have to cross the border.
A Queensland police spokesman said some infrastructure had been placed around opening the additional checkpoint but it was expected to take a few days for it to open.
Healthcare staff will still have to complete border passes.
The Health Services Union had called for specialised healthcare worker throughways to ensure people were not running late for shifts but at the time of writing there were none.
For holiday goers and returning Queenslanders the sunny weather also meant lengthy delays at the border.
The early bird travellers who made their way across Sunday morning only experienced about half-hour delays on the M1 and at Gold Coast Hwy border checkpoints.
The congestion built up considerably on the M1, with motorist wait times extending well past an hour by midday.
The traffic could be seen bumper to bumper past the border sign, kilometres away from the Pacific Motorway checkpoint.
The Gold Coast Hwy on Florence Street and Wharf Street had better flow with motorists experiencing about half-an-hour waits most of the day with the line of vehicles backing onto the M1 from midday.
Gold Coast Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler urged motorists to remain patient, saying delays were expected at border crossings over the entire holiday period.
"It is a busy time of the year for people travelling on the roads, but know police are trying to get you through as quickly as they can," he said.
"Delays are expected to continue in the coming days, with people on Sunday waiting up to 40 minutes.
"While this may cause frustration, we urge people to plan ahead and understand these measures are in place to keep COVID out of Queensland."
From 6am last Tuesday hard border closures regulations came into place and border blocks between New South Wales and Queensland were reinstalled - 21 days after being removed.
Since the hard border closures, Queensland residents returning from a coronavirus hotspot have been turned around at the border and told to head to the airport or hotel quarantine at their own expense for 14 days.
By Sunday, 245 vehicles containing 561 people had been refused entry at all road borders.
State of Emergency Service and Fire Service teams continued to provide support for police at checkpoints on Sunday and Chief Supt. Wheeler said they would continue to assist at the border into the near future.
"We are very grateful for their continued assistance," he said.
There were no new cases of coronavirus in Queensland today. There are currently 11 active cases in the state.
Originally published as Border relief expected with new checkpoint