Border control measures have ramped up at Whitsunday Coast Airport. Picture: Laura Thomas
Border control measures have ramped up at Whitsunday Coast Airport. Picture: Laura Thomas

Tourists sent back to Melbourne as border controls ramp up

A few would-be tourists attempting to holiday in the Whitsundays have already been sent back to Melbourne as border controls at Whitsunday Coast Airport ramp up.

Extra measures have been in place at the airport since the Queensland border slammed shut to residents from greater Melbourne at 1am Saturday.

The border will remain closed for at least the next two weeks.

Whitsunday Regional Council's aviation and tourism CEO Craig Turner said airport staff were monitoring flights into the Whitsundays, including conducting temperature checks using technology that assesses the temperature of 30 people at a time.

Queensland police and representatives from Queensland Health are also interviewing everyone who arrives on flights from Sydney and Melbourne.

 

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Mr Turner said as a result of those interviews, three people were sent back to Melbourne on Monday morning.

"The people unfortunately did not quite understand what they were required to do," Mr Turner said.

"They went and stayed in one of the greater Melbourne hot spots last night and they were deemed to not be qualified to enter the Whitsundays.

"They were understanding, they were disappointed obviously."

Mr Turner said the flight loading for the airport before the border closing was "excellent" and continuing flights allowed people who had been staying in the Whitsundays to get home.

February and March are already typically challenging months for tourism, so the border closure is expected to add to the challenge.

"Closing off a large market like Melbourne absolutely has impacts," Mr Turner said.

"It has significant effects on those businesses that might already be doing it tough."

Passengers disembark from a plane at Whitsunday Coast Airport. Picture: Laura Thomas
Passengers disembark from a plane at Whitsunday Coast Airport. Picture: Laura Thomas

But Mr Turner said safety had to be the number one priority.

As routes from major cities continue to be impacted by the evolving coronavirus situation, Mr Turner said the airport team was in regular contact with airlines to discuss new flight options.

"We are working very hard behind the scenes and that is not something new," Mr Turner said.

"There were conversations about a Newcastle opportunity.

"We are certainly not sitting on our laurels and we are trying hard to drive new aviation routes into the airport."

 

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The border closure came as Melbourne was plunged into a five-day lockdown at the weekend.

Anyone entering Queensland who has been in any part of Victoria in the past 14 days needs to complete a Queensland Border Declaration Pass to enter the state.

Anyone who has been in greater Melbourne in the past 14 days must quarantine in government-arranged accommodation at their own expense.

For more information on current restrictions, click here.