Queensland has enacted tough border restrictions with New South Wales after again recording zero new local Covid infections as it abandoned plans to aim for ‘zero-Covid’.
From today authorised essential workers will need at least one jab if they want to cross into Queensland from NSW.
But there was some hope on the horizon as Queensland’s chief health officer said the state would reopen the state once 80 per cent of Queenslanders were fully vaccinated.
Queenslanders who visit NSW will not be allowed to return by road and if they come back by air will have to quarantine for 14 days at their own expense in government-arranged quarantine.
Queensland has enacted tough border restrictions with New South Wales after again recording zero new local Covid infections. Police are shown at the state’s borders
Essential workers include medical professionals, frontline emergency services workers and volunteers, aged car workers and those with exemptions but not childcare workers or builders on non-essential jobs.
The new rules come after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk moved soldiers to the border to help stop Covid-19 outbreaks from Sydney spilling into Queensland.
Queensland returned to recording zero local cases on Saturday, after announcing one the day before.
Two cases were detected in the state’s hotel quarantine system.
Business owners in Queensland are concerned about the impacts of border closures. Pictured is Maddie Pierce from Flying Elephant cafe in Coolangatta on Friday
Chief health officer Jeanette Young expressed concern too any over-60s were unvaccinated as she again urged Queenslanders to continue getting vaccinated
There are still 51 active Covid cases in Queensland and 1275 people in home quarantine.
Palaszczuk has repeatedly expressed fears about the rising number of cases in NSW and how that could spill over to Queensland, while chief health officer Jeannette Young said one new Delta Covid-19 case in the state could spark another lockdown.
Dr Young said the NSW outbreak, which skyrocketed again on Saturday with 825 new cases was ‘moving closer and closer’ to Queensland.
She also warned that people’s reluctance to get vaccinated could lead to further Queensland outbreaks and lockdowns.
Dr Young expressed particular concern that too any over-60s were unvaccinated as she again urged Queenslanders to continue getting vaccinated.
‘If you’re 16 years of age or older, it is absolutely critical you get vaccinated,’ she said.
‘We will not be able to hold back community spread from our border if we don’t get vaccinated,’ she said.
But Dr Young indicated the state would likely re-open to the rest of Australia once 80 per cent of Queenslanders were vaccinated and would no longer pursue a ‘zero Covid’ strategy.
Annastacia Palaszczuk has repeatedly expressed fears about the rising number of cases in NSW and how that could spill over to Queensland
‘At that 80 per cent point, we probably will, but we just have to see what happens and see what the outcomes are at that point in time,’ she said.
She said the Doherty Institute’s modelling shows 80 per cent is the target needed to protect Queensland’s health care system from being overwhelmed.
Dr Young also indicated she would no longer try to eradicate COVID-19 in Queensland after the vaccination target is hit.
‘Once we open up we won’t have zero cases, of course we won’t, we’ll have a disease that we can manage,’ she said.
‘The problem is, while we’ve got such low vaccination rates and they’re getting better and better, but they’re still low, we can’t afford to open up because we know as other countries have seen that we would rapidly get overrun with cases that we wouldn’t be able to treat.’
As of Saturday morning 26.8 per cent of Queenslanders are fully vaccinated, according to health minister Yvette D’Ath, while 42.5 per cent have had one dose.
She said 19,273 vaccine doses were administered in Queensland on Friday.
Ms D’Ath said if case numbers remained low, the state could return to the lowest levels of restrictions at the end of next week.
At present, restrictions include carrying a mask indoors and staying seated indoors will remain until 4pm next Friday August 27.
‘We’ll have to wait and see if it will be mandatory or just strongly recommended,’ Dr Young said.
She added that it either way masks would remain mandatory in airports.
On Friday restrictions eased in Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Ipswich, Lockyer, Somerset, Logan, Redland, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Noosa and Scenic Rim.
High school students in South East Queensland are required to continue wearing masks in class for another week.
Up to 30 people can now gather in homes or in public and funerals and weddings can now have up to 100 guests.
Indoor and outdoor stadiums return to 75 per cent capacity.