Police issue new border warning as 800 turned away
Queensland police manning border checkpoints have been placed on high alert to brace for a wave of Sydneysiders preparing to flee the country's new COVID capital.
With speculation Sydney could enter a full lockdown, police at the Gold Coast's four border checkpoints will ramp up efforts to stop anyone entering Queensland from the crisis engulfing the nation's biggest city.
Gold Coast Police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said police were "absolutely" ready for any influx of travellers trying to sneak into Queensland from Sydney.
"We are certainly alive to that," he said.
"Even people who may get through (the checkpoints) in the first instance and think it's all good and they are home and hosed, they should think again as the five people from Greater Sydney found out earlier this week."
Since the latest border closures came into effect before Christmas, 375 vehicles containing more than 800 people have been turned away from Queensland at Gold Coast checkpoints after they could not prove they had not been in a Sydney hot spot in the previous 14 days.
A group of Sydneysiders who slipped through the net initially were later caught at hotels and are among a dozen travellers to have been issued $4003 fines in the past 10 days.
Chief Superintendent Wheeler also said officers would not be out to
spoil anyone's New Year's fun by playing the role of 'pash police', but called on revellers to take responsibility for their actions.
"Please enjoy tonight, it's been a tough year for people," he said.
"2020 has been a year unlike any other but do it in a COVID-safe manner."
"Police won't be enforcing that (kissing strangers) with an iron fist.
"It's a commonsense approach.
"People have got to be responsible for their own safety.
"We've had such a good run, so we just want to keep going.
"We ask people to do the right thing."
Queensland Ambulance Service operations director Matthew Green also asked New Year's Eve revellers to leave a greater distance between themselves and others.
"Obviously the key message this year is to keep your distance as much as you can," Mr Green said.
He said more ambulance crews would be on standby amid predictions of very different New Year's Eve celebrations across Brisbane and Queensland.
"It's all a bit different this year, " Mr Green said.
"We're expecting the same amount of people to be partying ... but we're not expecting them to be in the City or South Bank as they may have been in previous years," he said.
He said QAS were anticipating more smaller parties out in the suburbs.
Crews in other hotspots, in places like the Gold Coast and Whitsundays, were also bracing for a night as busy as previous New Year's Eves.
Originally published as Police issue new border warning as 800 turned away