Extra Screening For Victorian Travellers Following Melbourne COVID-19 Hotspot Travel Ban
Extra Screening For Victorian Travellers Following Melbourne COVID-19 Hotspot Travel Ban

QLD airport staff fear arrival of first Vic flight

The first of multiple incoming flights from a coronavirus hotspot will touch down in Townsville this weekend, sparking huge concerns from those closest to the risk.

The Townsville Bulletin understands a flight from Melbourne, with a capacity for 180 passengers, is the first direct route into the region since flights stopped when the state's borders closed.

Source at the airlines say the Sunday flight may only have a handful of passengers on board.

The big move comes as the State Government try to lock up the state from Victoria, which is grappling with a second, vicious wave of coronavirus.

Victoria recorded 66 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with hundreds of new infections unable to be traced across the state.

An airport source says crews were getting ready to work a 12-hour shift to prepare, clean and secure the Townsville Airport ahead of the first flight this weekend.

Three direct flights from Melbourne are scheduled each week, on top of connecting flights already operating throughout the country.

The Bulletin understands airport staff were nervous about the health risk and Townsville residents needed to know the truth.

An airport source says staff are reparing for a rush of passengers on Sunday. Picture: Evan Morgan
An airport source says staff are reparing for a rush of passengers on Sunday. Picture: Evan Morgan

"Everyone that I've spoken to thinks it's an absolute joke, but what can we do," the source said.

The State Government announced this week that all state borders would reopen to travellers from July 10, except with Victoria.

From today, people who had been to Victoria in the fortnight before their arrival were also not welcome.

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto echoed the concerns, saying the possibility of a dormant case landing in the region and spreading the virus was a "real threat".

"An outbreak has the potential to send us back into lockdown," he said.

"We've got small businesses out there that are just getting back to some sort of normality, business who have gone through the toughest hardship they could ever endure."

Staff are reportedly cleaning the airport so thoroughly that sanitisers are stripping the paints off walls and varnishes off timber.

The Bulletin understands they are doing everything possible to keep them, and the community safe, but were scared at what might happen next.

"Shifts are changing non-stop. it's stressful and customers are unhappy and we are slowing everything down, keeping everyone spread out and cleaning," they said.

The source said there had been multiple incidents at the airport where travellers were turned away for arriving illegally during the height of the pandemic.

Originally published as COVID SCARE: Airport staff fear arrival of first Vic flight


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