It was to be the first holiday in Australia without border restrictions since the pandemic began.
But a snap lockdown in Brisbane days out from the Easter long weekend has left Australians uncertain about how their Easter travel plans will be affected.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Monday a three-day lockdown for Greater Brisbane as the state recorded 10 new cases of COVID-19, including four locally acquired infections.
The lockdown applies to Brisbane, Logan, Moreton Bay, Ipswich and Redlands and starts at 5pm, Brisbane time, on March 29.
It is expected to end on Thursday, just before the Good Friday public holiday.
Some states have already shut borders to parts of Queensland in response to today’s announcement.
RELATED: State on alert as cases cross border
Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown was tough but necessary as the new cases were the highly infectious UK strain.
“We‘ve seen what’s happened in other countries. I don’t want to see that happen to Queensland. I don’t want to see that happen to Australia. I know in is a really big call. I know it is really tough,” she said.
“We have Easter coming up, we have school holidays coming up, but let’s do it now and let’s do it right and let’s see if we can come through it at the other end.”
Travellers from interstate and within Queensland who visit Greater Brisbane during the lockdown period will need to comply with lockdown rules, which means people cannot leave their house except for food, for exercise, essential work and medical reasons.
But there is less certainty around travellers who were expecting to visit the city from Friday onwards, as well as people from Brisbane travelling to other states.
Which states have shut their borders since the lockdown news?
States and territories are revising their borders with Queensland in light of Monday’s snap lockdown announcement and changes are expected.
Tasmania has now effectively shut its border with Brisbane.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said on Monday anyone travelling to the state from Brisbane, Logan, Moreton Bay, Ipswich or the Redlands will not be able to enter without quarantining for up to two weeks.
The Australian Capital Territory now considers Greater Brisbane a hot spot areas and is urging people against travelling there at this time.
Mandatory quarantine applies to all people entering Canberra since March 15.
People should get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result if they have been in City of Brisbane and Moreton Bay Council region from March 11 to 14.
Which states and territories are yet to announce border changes?
Other states have not yet updated their advice in light of Monday’s announcement of a snap lockdown. The following advice has not changed since before the announcement, and may be revised soon:
Victoria: The Queensland local government areas of Brisbane and Moreton Bay are designated an “orange zone” and people entering Victoria from those areas (unless they were passing through the airport) must apply for an orange zone permit. That means they must immediately self-isolate, get tested within 72 hours, and isolate until they get a negative result. The rest of Queensland is a green zone.
Western Australia: Western Australia had already reinstated a soft border with Queensland over the weekend, which meant all incoming travellers from Queensland would have to undertake 14 days of mandatory self-isolation when they re-entered WA.
NSW: People who arrive in NSW from March 27 and have been in the Brisbane City or Moreton Bay council areas since March 11 must complete a self-declaration form. People who have been in close contact venues in Queensland can only enter NSW if they are a NSW resident.
South Australia: SA’s government website still lists Queensland as a “Low Community-Transmission Zone”, but anyone who visited Brisbane City or Moreton Bay council areas since March 11 should get tested immediately and self-isolate until they get a negative result.
Northern Territory: All people travelling to the Northern Territory must complete the border entry form. Anyone entering the NT from a virus hotspot must undertake mandatory supervised quarantine at their own cost, which is around $2500. People travelling to the NT from a hotspot are advised to cancel their plans, and Territorians intending to travel to an active hotspot are similarly advised to cancel their plans. The NT has not yet updated its list of hot spots to include Brisbane.
Are airlines still flying to Qld?
Virgin Australia said all services to and from Brisbane on Monday, March 29 were operating as normal.
However, the airline said it was inundated with calls about flight plans over Easter and customers who were not travelling within the next 72 hours should call back later.
“Due to the evolving situation in Greater Brisbane, states and territories are implementing revised border restrictions. Customers should ensure they check the latest information on the respective government websites prior to travel,” Virgin Australia said in a statement.
“While services are currently operating as normal today (March 29), changes to customer demand and booking trends may require us to adjust our forward schedule.
Due to higher than normal call volumes, Customers who wish to cancel or make changes to their booking should do so on our website. Options include the ability to rebook on alternative Virgin Australia services or obtain a travel credit for use at a later stage.”
news.com.au has contacted Qantas to see if its flights are affected.
Is Brisbane Airport open?
Brisbane Airport has advised that it remains open and at this stage there were no restrictions on intrastate travel or transit.
How do I cancel my booking?
Flights: If you have flights booked and need to cancel your travel plans you should contact the airline directly, keeping in mind they will be prioritising passengers according to departure times.
Hotels/accommodation: Contact your hotel and or check the terms and conditions of your booking because it depends on what kind of booking you made. Those with fully refundable rates should have no problem getting a full refund but policy conditions may differ depending on the provider if you have non-refundable rates.
Guests may also be entitled to a refund if their hotel is closed for their planned stay, or can’t accommodate guests due to official orders, such as a lockdown.
People who locked in accommodation with booking platforms, such as Booking.com, should contact that company to see what options are available. Cancellation requests will generally be handled by the property.