Excitement and bitterness at the reopening of Qld | The Murray Valley Standard

Melburnian Matthew Ryland can’t wait to paddle his board through the warm waters of Currumbin Alley for some waves next week.

For the 49-year-old father-of-three, the Gold Coast is a tantalizing prospect after a long winter of COVID-19 lockdowns and freezing surf in Bass Strait.

He is among thousands of Australians heading to the Sunshine State when its border reopens to the rest of the country on Monday.

“So we’re passionate about the beach and the surf, so I have three sons and they all go there, so I can’t wait to be there,” he told AAP.

“Nice warm water, you don’t need a huge thick wetsuit and an hour and a half of driving. You can just go down and jump in the nice and beautiful surf with good waves.

“It would be the best thing, of course, after seeing everyone again.”

Ryland and his family fly north for their annual Christmas gathering at his parents’ house in the Gold Coast.

Her two sisters and their families will also make the trip from South Australia.

Family vacations are also important to his parents, he says, as his boys grow up.

“Children change so quickly, the difference between a 9 and 11 year old child is very big or between 14 and 16 years old.

“It’s a pretty important time for them.”

The partition of romantic relationships by Queensland’s hard border has been the flaw in a long-standing policy that has effectively shielded the state from deadly COVID outbreaks seen elsewhere in Australia.

It has also saved authorities precious time to vaccinate over 80% of Queensland’s eligible population.

At the same time, it has left thousands stranded between states and denied dozens of the opportunity to say a final goodbye to their dying loved ones.

The sadly enduring image of the downside of politics is that of Sarah Caisip, a 26-year-old woman from Canberra, dressed in full PPE and leaning over her father’s coffin in Brisbane last year.

She was granted permission to leave the hotel’s quarantine to say goodbye to him, but authorities would not let her see him on his deathbed or attend his funeral.

While the border has caused a lot of emotional trauma, it has protected Queenslanders from the ravages of COVID-19 with only six people having died from the virus since the start of the pandemic.

And the policy was overwhelmingly supported by those who lived safely behind the wall with relatively few restrictions for almost two years.

The Labor government of Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk was re-elected with a variation of 1.9%, winning four more seats, last October.

But a new era begins Monday when the Queensland border finally reopens to all states and territories.

For the first time in 229 days, people won’t need to self-quarantine when they arrive, as long as they are fully immunized and test negative.

Palaszczuk says that with more than 80% of residents having had two injections, it is safe to move on and reunite family and friends.

“Queensland’s cautious approach had kept Queensland safe,” she told AAP.

“We will live with COVID but on our terms. “

Tourism operators may be expecting their best summer season since the start of the pandemic after losing around $ 20 billion in revenue since March 2020.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind has seen an increase in bookings since the reopening date was set.

“We have a lot of ground to catch up. Tourism is a perishable good, you can’t store it and then sell it later,” he says.

“But we certainly hope we have a strong harvest for this summer season.”

He says closures in other states and uncertainty over international travel have heightened the appeal of Australia’s “quintessential summer vacation”.

“After two years of drama and trauma for so many people, I think everyone is ready to go out, forget about COVID for a moment and have fun in this beautiful Australian landscape.”

But not everyone is happy to venture north of the Tweed again.

Brisbane resident Katherine Prouting has been stranded in New South Wales for seven months.

The 28-year-old doctoral student was visiting her dying grandmother in Sydney when the border was closed.

She was able to stay with her family, but had to pay over $ 10,000 in rent to avoid being evicted from her apartment.

She has managed to get by on a small stipend, teach classes online, and tap into her savings.

“I did well to be stuck here, I’m lucky again to be with my family,” she said.

“But trying to write my thesis and the rent issue weighs very heavily on me.”

Prouting has booked a flight for next month but is concerned that the border will be closed again.

She also feels guilty for not spending time with her family, especially her grandmother before her death.

She will transition from part-time to full-time studies to complete her doctorate by the end of 2022 and return to New South Wales.

“I’m also concerned about living without family support. I’m fully vaccinated but I have heart disease so I’m still worried about how COVID would play out if I caught it,” she says.

“I now have a sort of animosity towards the state, which I don’t want to have, but it’s hard not to.”

National Liberal Party leader David Crisafulli said the opening was an important step in getting back to normalcy.

But it will be emotional for those who have separated, especially the Queenslanders stranded in New South Wales, some of whom were living in their cars.

“I am relieved that we are welcoming these Queenslanders again,” he said.

“While there are challenges ahead, I have no doubts that 2022 will be the year families can find a way to have more certainty and consistency in the rules that govern their lives.”

Australian Associated Press

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