Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the border was opening sooner than anticipated to mark the state’s 70 per cent double vaccinated milestone.
Returning Queenslanders can now apply to cross the border and quarantine at home, provided they are double vaccinated and meet new criteria.
Today, scenes at Brisbane Airport captured the relief of those reunited, some after months of separation.
Resident Jackie Dannie said the anticipation of seeing her husband again matched that of her wedding day.
“I’m actually shaking,” she said.
The pair had not seen each other since Jackie’s husband, Steve, left for Sydney five months ago, unable to return to Queensland due to border restrictions.
“Glad to be home but ridiculous it’s taken so long and the reasons why,” Mr Dannie said.
“We’re meant to all be Queenslanders, all Australians.”
Bijay Thapa is another resident finally able to return home.
After returning from a trip to Nepal, visiting his sick mother who then died of COVID-19, he was required to stay in Sydney, separated from his wife.
“It’s been really frustrating because I was so close and I couldn’t even see her you know,” Mr Thapa said.
Thousands still stranded by border restrictions
Despite the reunions, thousands are still separated by the border, impacted by the Queensland government’s decision to only allow arrivals by air.
“We have our family and friends ringing up saying ‘oh I see you can go across the border now’, but they only hear the first part of the story,” Ms Williams said.
Under the current guidelines, returning residents must fly into the state and then home quarantine, provided their home is within two hours drive of the airport.
But those in apartments and units with shared access to their homes are not eligible to return until December 17.
Ms Williams said despite the current rules, the family’s apartment was used to quarantine an NRL player’s family earlier this year.
“Because we have to go in a lift and get into our unit they won’t allow (us to home quarantine),” Ms Williams said.
Michael Page is another resident hoping to get into Queensland after living in his caravan with his family in a NSW caravan park for four months.
He said he’s heard stories of those unable or ineligible to fly home.
“They’ve got some extreme stories, some very sad stories and they can’t fly, they can’t all fly,” Mr Page said.
David Janetzki, deputy leader of the Opposition in Queensland, condemned restrictions banning travel by road.
“These parents with three children must expose themselves to COVID at an airport, costing them thousands of dollars, instead of driving under two hours to their front door,” he said.
But the premier backed the restrictions.
“Everybody knows very clearly the plan, and the plan is working,” Ms Palaszczuk said.