Elderly bus passengers stopped at Queensland border after ‘stretching legs’ at Sydney transit stop

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A number of elderly bus passengers have been unwittingly caught up in Queensland’s tough border restrictions because they “spent an hour stretching their legs” in Sydney.

The travellers arrived by bus at the Queensland-New South Wales border checkpoint at Coolangatta this morning, but were told by authorities that it was the end of their journey.

The Greater Sydney area was declared a COVID-19 hotspot by Queensland, meaning anyone who has spent time there in the past 14 days will be turned around at the border or placed in quarantine at their own expense.

At 1:00am Saturday, all of NSW and the ACT will be added to that declaration.

Karen Warren, 69, said she had travelled 25 hours from Merimbula in southern NSW to visit her son in Brisbane.

“I’m sad because I haven’t seen my son for so many years,” she said.

Mrs Warren said she and other passengers were informed they could not continue their bus trip because they had been forced to disembark in Sydney.

A woman speaking to a bus driver and a policeman wearing a protective mask
One of the bus passengers stopped at the Queensland border.(ABC News: Cathy Border)

Gold Coast resident Graham McKerlie, 78, said he merely sat in the bus company’s transit centre office for an hour.

He had been returning from a trip to NSW to celebrate his brother’s 80th birthday and had been travelling since 7:00am on Thursday morning.

Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said Mr McKerlie was questioned by officers and discovered that he’d come from a COVID-19 hotspot.

“So by virtue of the Chief Health Officer’s direction he had to go into mandatory quarantine,” Chief Superintendent Wheeler said.

He said he was told he would have to quarantine for 14 days, but was unsure whether he could do so in his own home.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do,” Mr McKerlie said.

Police speaking to an elderly man sitting on the side of the road
Police became concerned when they noticed Mr McKerlie was short of breath.(ABC News: Cathy Border)

A short time after speaking to reporters, a distressed Mr McKerlie was taken away by ambulance.

Mrs Warren said she would return to stay with a friend in northern NSW.

“I’ll just hope [the Premier] might open up the borders so I get a chance to see [my son] before I go back home,” she said.

“I understand the Queensland Government doing what they’re doing, because of Victoria. We don’t want this sort of thing happening at our place either.

“But, I don’t think she [Annastacia Palaszczuk] should’ve done it for the whole of NSW.”


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