Balonne Shire Council has been advised that Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young will add all Balonne Shire postcodes to the state's Border Zone from 1am Thursday, 20th August 2020.
In a teleconference late yesterday, Balonne Shire Mayor Samantha O'Toole spoke with the CHO about the need for an extension of the Border Zone to allow residents to continue their business in the region.
Under the changes, the Balonne Shire postcodes included in the Border Zone from tomorrow are:
- 2406 (Mungindi)
- 4486 (Hebel and Dirranbandi)
- 4487 (St George)
- 4488 (Bollon)
- 4497 (Thallon and Nindigully)
The CHO also committed to improving the functionality of the Border Pass application website. This will assist all residents and businesses of the Balonne shire to move across the border into the New South Wales side of the bubble.
Cr O'Toole said Council had been advocating for these changes since the introduction of the Border Zone on 8th August 2020.Dr Young also made commitments to improve the exemption system to assist agricultural workers and contractors in acquiring the relevant exemptions when they need to enter or re-enter Queensland from outside the Border Zone.
As a result essential workers, local farmers and agribusinesses will be able to apply for an exemption, and will not be required to quarantine for 14 days.
Employers with seasonal agricultural workers will be able to receive an exemption for their travel in to Queensland where the workers will be required to quarantine on farm but can begin work under a Covid safe plan.
"These amended rules are more practical for our communities and vital industries within in the Balonne Shire, which were unexpectedly disrupted when the original Border Zone was activated," she said.
"Crossing the border to take your children to school, go to work, or conduct your daily business is a part of life in our Shire, and it is essential for us that some movement can still take place.
"It is particularly important in our essential agricultural industries, which have a strong connection to regional centres in New South Wales outside of the declared Border Zone.
"The Chief Health Officer and the State Government have been willing to accommodate these changes for the sake of our essential rural workforce, and we trust they will help keep our Shire and our State moving forward during these difficult times."
In light of the change in rules, Cr O'Toole has urged Balonne Shire residents to familiarise themselves with the Border Zone regulations.
"All Balonne Shire residents will soon be considered Border Zone residents, and while it means they can cross the border, there are still important rules to follow," she said.
"They must complete a Border Pass before crossing the border, ensure it is valid when they are travelling, and understand the rules around traveling on the New South Wales side of the Border Zone."
For more information on border restrictions, visit the Queensland Government website.
Residents and workers can apply for a Queensland Border Declaration Pass online.