Victorians flee Melbourne’s stage 4 lockdown using sneaky loophole

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Victorians flee Melbourne’s stage 4 lockdown using sneaky loophole.

By Frank Chung and Lauren McMah

Thousands of Victorians are reportedly looking to flee the state for good, heading north to Queensland to escape stage 4 restrictions.

And people are so keen to escape to the Sunshine State, they’re snapping up million-dollar properties without even seeing them first.

According to online removalist platform Muval, 20,000 Victorians have looked at relocating since stage 4 lockdown was announced a week ago.

Brisbane was their top choice, with 21 per cent wanting to relocate there, Muval said. About 17 per cent wanted to go to Perth and 15 per cent to Sydney.

“A lot of the calls we take are from people who have either lost their job or have had a business close down and they’re looking to relocate,” Adam Coward, who runs the site, told Seven News.

Passengers arrive at Brisbane domestic airport on Thursday, days before the Queensland border is shut to people from NSW and the ACT. Picture: Dan Peled/NCA NewsWire

Passengers arrive at Brisbane domestic airport on Thursday, days before the Queensland border is shut to people from NSW and the ACT.

According to Mr Coward, 65 per cent of inquiries on his website over the past fortnight had been people looking to move from Melbourne. “We’ve had 80,000 people view our blog on our website in the past few months,” he told Nine News.

Under stage 4 restrictions, removalists are still considered essential businesses and Victorians are permitted to move house, within curfew hours.

To get across the border, Victorians need to be able to prove they have a valid lease or residency in Queensland and will have to go through mandatory two-week hotel quarantine.

While Queensland was already the top destination for interstate relocations before COVID-19,

– particularly from major cities like Sydney and Melbourne – that demand has strengthened during the pandemic.

Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) chief executive Antonia Mercorella said the shift towards working from home had likely made moving interstate seem like more of an option – especially as people sought the affordability, liveability and lifestyle of the Sunshine State.

Queues at the NSW-Queensland border on August 1. Picture: Steve Holland/NCA NewsWire

Queues at the NSW-Queensland border on August

“Spending more time at home is seeing more people considering their options,” Ms Mercorella told news.com.au.

“There’s a strong surge in interest up and down the eastern coastline of Queensland, with interstate buyers actively searching for properties from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast and further north to Airlie Beach.

“With buyers on the hunt for high quality homes with water or beach frontage as well as apartments with ocean views and healthy growth potential, we’ve recently seen a rise in ‘sight unseen’ property purchases in the $1 million-plus category, where interstate buyers have never even seen the property they’re purchasing.”

There’s also been interstate interest in renting in Queensland, despite vacancy figures showing a very tight market statewide.

Queensland realtors are seeing a boom in interest from interstate.

Queensland realtors are seeing a boom in interest from interstate.

June data from the REIQ showed Mount Isa, Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Mackay and Bundaberg had a rental vacancy rate of less than one per cent – even tighter than the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

“The reasons for the current level of rental demand shows that more people are reconsidering their living options – not just those renters within the state but those looking to migrate to Queensland too,” Ms Mercorella said.

Former Melburnian Ben De Heed, who now lives in Greenslopes, Brisbane, told Nine News he packed up and left after two years just as lockdowns kicked in.

“It just went crazy. I was living in Preston, which is in central Melbourne and they are in full lockdown,” he said. “I am relieved I am here.”

Southerners are eager to relocate to Queensland. Picture: Dan Peled/NCA NewsWire

Southerners are eager to relocate to Queensland.

Gold Coast buyers agent Tony Coughran, meanwhile, told Seven News he had received three phone calls in one day from people in Melbourne wanting to move.

“They just have had enough,” he said.

RUSH NORTH AS BORDER DEADLINE LOOMS

Meanwhile, long queues of motorists are forming at the NSW-Queensland border and extra flights will be dispatched up north today with hours to go before the state line is shut.

From 1am on Saturday, Queensland will declare NSW and the ACT virus hotspots, which means travellers from those areas will be unable to enter the Sunshine State, and returning residents have to quarantine for 14 days at their expense.

The border change means NSW and the ACT joins Victoria on Queensland’s virus blacklist. Queensland had already deemed Greater Sydney a virus hotspot.

Queensland will shut its border to the whole of NSW and the ACT from Saturday. Picture: Scott Powick

Queensland will shut its border to the whole of NSW and the ACT from Saturday.

Hundreds of Queenslanders in other parts of NSW and the ACT have been rushing home before the 1am deadline to avoid mandatory quarantine.

About 60 extra flights to Queensland have already arrived since the border change was announced on Wednesday.

“If you are a returning Queensland resident, you are encouraged to come home immediately,”

Queensland Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said.

“For people who do not fit into any of those categories, the message is: Do not come to Queensland.

“We will be stopping individual vehicles; this is going to cause significant delays.”

Motorists have been told to brace for delays of an hour or more.

Police check cars at the border at Coolangatta on August 1. Picture: Steve Holland/NCA NewsWire

Police check cars at the border at Coolangatta on August

There will be exemptions for residents in the Tweed and Gold Coast communities who have to cross the border for work and other essential reasons.

Those residents will need to apply for an “X-pass” on the Queensland Government website.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the hard border with NSW and the ACT were necessary as both jurisdictions presented a “concerning situation”.

“In NSW, we are continuing to see cases each day, and this is of great concern to Queensland,” she said on Wednesday.

“I can now confirm that our chief health officer is declaring NSW and the ACT a hotspot. This will take immediate effect from Saturday.

“This is the right thing to do. I know it’s going to be tough on Queenslanders. But your health comes first.”

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*Note We Deliberately Miss Spell Some Words or Add Capital Letters To Get Around Big Tech Censoring.

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