Border 'impacts have been huge': Pressure eases for locals
Constantly checking whether your border pass is still current, adding an extra hour or two to travel up the road: these are things Northern NSW residents have gotten used to.
But travelling into Queensland is set to be a bit easier after the state's Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced border checkpoints would come down on Monday, February 1.
Tweed Shire Councillor James Owen, who is also president of the Kingscliff Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the end of border checkpoints and border passes.
It's the second time Queensland's border checkpoints will have been dismantled since they were first implemented early last year.
NSW residents could enter the state freely from December 1 but this was short-lived.
It was an outbreak in Sydney which saw borders tightened again before Christmas.
Various iterations of the border closure have impacted those who live their daily lives across the two states.
"It's great news for the whole community, for the residents and the businesses and visitors to the area," Cr Owen said.
"It clearly makes life very difficult when there is a border checkpoint just for people going about their day-to-day lives."
Cr Owen had been pushing for a special locals border pass or locals-only lane on the border to ease the strain on those who need to make the crossing regularly.
"We understand an outbreak here would be devastating," he said.
"However the borders … have impacted businesses, they've affected people trying to get to medical appointments.
"This will be a welcome release of the pressure."
He said the timing of the opening "couldn't be better", as students head back to school.
While it has been a mere inconvenience for most, the border situation has been marred by tragedy, too.
A grieving Ballina family was led to question whether the closure cost the life of their unborn baby while others were prevented from visiting dying loves ones in their final days.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has criticised the lack of consistency between the states when it comes to border restrictions.
"The mental health impacts have been huge for people," Cr Owen said.
The Queensland Premier has not ruled out another future closure, if another outbreak unfolds.
"I hope we can manage things really well and not give her that reason to do it," Cr Owen said.
"It's good that the vaccines are starting to roll out, that's going to be a really positive thing."