Interstate tension over virus border rules

The nation has marked its 100th coronavirus death, an elderly resident at Sydney's Newmarch House.
The nation has marked its 100th coronavirus death, an elderly resident at Sydney's Newmarch House.

Coronavirus border restrictions have stoked interstate rivalries with tension between premiers over tourist transit.

NSW will relax travel rules within the state from June 1 with regional travel allowed for interstate visitors and residents.

But Queensland is holding firm, telling its tourism industry to prepare for a likely September reopening of its state borders.

WA, SA and the NT are also maintaining hardline approaches on border closures amid fears of a second wave of infections.

WA Premier Mark McGowan knows his tough stance is frustrating political leaders on the other side of the country.

"It might inconvenience the NSW premier and some people from the eastern states, but frankly, I don't give a damn," he said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the move would be an opportunity for her state as the tourism sector returns to life.

"NSW will welcome visitors from all across the country," she said on Wednesday.

Queensland's chief health officer Jeannette Young flagged the possibility of borders remaining shut beyond September if infections weren't controlled.

"If the tourism industry wants a more realistic scenario they should be preparing for September," she said.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said opening up borders would be up to state premiers and territory chief ministers.

"There are no national cabinet barriers to states bringing down those internal order restrictions or cross-state restrictions," he told reporters in Melbourne.

South Australia will allow dining for up to 10 people in restaurants and cafes from June 5, three days earlier than planned.

Australia recorded 11 new coronavirus infections overnight on Tuesday taking the total number of cases to 7071.

The 17th COVID-19 death at Sydney's Newmarch House nursing home brought the national toll to 100.

There have been almost six million downloads of the coronavirus contract tracing app, with Victorian health authorities confirming it is using the data for the first time.

On Monday evening, Victoria's traders identified a coronavirus positive patient who had the COVIDSafe app on their phone.

The patient agreed to authorities using the data, which has been downloaded to look for potential contacts.

Mr Hunt denied NSW Health had been unable to access app data after reports there were issues integrating the information into existing contact-tracing methods.

Four nursing homes in Melbourne have gone into lockdown after a resident from each were tested for the virus.

Three have returned positive results while results for a fourth are pending.

In a bid to ensure pandemics can be better managed in future, Australia has joined with more than 130 countries in a resolution backing an investigation on Tuesday night.

The World Health Assembly decision commits to an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of the international response to the pandemic.

Australian Associated Press