A border control checkpoint at the QLD/NSW border (Image: AAP/Russell Freeman)

There’s a distinct feeling when you step off a plane in Queensland: the sun glares in your eyes, you feel the humidity on your skin, and you hear cicadas chirping as if they surround you. It’s a feeling many Queenslanders living interstate, myself included, have anticipated with great excitement as we plan to return home for the first time in five months or longer. And finally, after much apprehension, the border is open. 

More than 225,000 people have taken up the offer, streaming into the state since it reopened to New South Wales, the ACT and Victoria. But many more are still set to make the journey before Christmas, and border anxiety is real. As COVID worsens, every second spent away from home feels like a ticking time bomb. Every interaction is a new chance to get COVID or be a close contact, every passing day an opportunity for the rules to change again. 

Queensland's cases have been steadily rising, soaring to 186 today. Still, it's a fraction compared to the 3763 recorded in NSW today or 1503 in Victoria.