Qld quarantine crackdown as NSW awaits Christmas COVID rules
Queensland police are ramping up home quarantine checks while D-Day has arrived for NSW residents with the state's Christmas rules to be revealed on Wednesday.
RUSH ON COVID TESTING CENTRES
Demand for COVID testing in Queensland has more than doubled in recent days, with more than 8000 people getting tested on Tuesday, up from 4000 on Monday.
Queensland Health have said they would be ramping up testing operations to meet with the new demand, but have since revealed they have only reopened one previously closed testing facility.
In addition, it's understood a number of existing testing facilities will have reduced operating hours over the next few days of Christmas break.
HOME QUARANTINE CRACKDOWN
In Queensland, a couple from Sydney's northern beaches were among the worst of the offenders found out during 186 home quarantine compliance checks since Saturday.
The 61-year-old man and 41-year-old woman were discovered on the Gold Coast's Main Beach by police on Sunday.
They were meant to be quarantining in accommodation on Seaworld Drive and have since been sent back to New South Wales.
Others caught breaching home quarantine included a 31-year-old man found walking along a beach on Stradbroke Island and a 34-year-old man in Cairns.
Queensland police are also urging patience at border checkpoints after motorists were forced to queue for more than three hours yesterday.
CHRISTMAS RESTRICTIONS REVEALED TODAY
The NSW government's COVID crisis cabinet will today make a call on whether to change current restrictions set to expire tonight.
One government source suggested any decision will rest on the "risk appetite" of senior ministers.
If NSW records another day of single-digit case numbers with a high testing turnout, there could be a push to ease restrictions on household gatherings and movement in the northern beaches - but there is a degree of nervousness about moving too quickly.
"Of course we want people to have a good Christmas, but we have to protect our state for 2021, so it's about finding the right balance," Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the case numbers announced yesterday meant "the trends are where we'd like them to be".
Ms Berejiklian said the government will "take a cautious but balanced approach" when deciding Christmas restrictions.
The restrictions have left Sydney's CBD, normally bustling with gift-buying shoppers, a ghost town on Tuesday. The landmark Opera Bar was empty as Sydneysiders obeyed calls to limit movement.
LABOR CALLS FOR FASTER VACCINE ROLLOUT
Labor leader Anthony Albanese has declared Australia needs more COVID-19 vaccine doses more quickly, and while he respected regulatory processes if approval comes earlier than planned, the rollout should be faster.
The Morrison government is refusing to fast-track its program, which could take until March, despite the UK, US and Europe all giving rapid approval to vaccines.
President-elect Joe Biden was given the first of two jabs of the Pfizer vaccine on live TV on Tuesday and said: "There is nothing to worry about."
Australia is facing a growing threat with four infection breaches associated with incoming travellers in the past four weeks and the bubbling northern beaches cluster.
But the federal government insists Australia is not experiencing an "emergency" situation which would warrant a faster vaccine rollout.
"Labor respects Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) processes but if it approves the Pfizer vaccine in January, it makes no sense not to have access until March," Mr Albanese told The Telegraph.
Originally published as Qld quarantine crackdown as NSW awaits Christmas COVID rules