The Australian state of Queensland has mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for more sectors, including workers at public and private schools, early childhood centres, correctional centres, youth detention facilities, and airports.
“We are taking this strong action to protect vulnerable Queenslanders. It is action that is consistent with other states and territories such as New South Wales and Victoria,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told the state parliament on Nov. 30.
The move comes as Australia pushes back the reopening of its international borders from Dec. 1 to Dec. 15 to give authorities time to analyse Omicron, the new variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.
“If there is one thing we can predict about coronavirus, it is its unpredictability,” Palaszczuk said. “Four days ago, Delta was our biggest concern. Now we face the uncertainty of an unknown enemy in Omicron.”
“While there is much unknown about this variant, its very existence has prompted a strong global response.”
The premier described the new vaccination mandates as being “over and above” her government’s already existing response to the virus by mandating vaccinations for police and health workers in the state.
Workers in schools will need to be double dosed by Jan. 23, 2022, in time for the new school term.
Palaszczuk said the mandate will help protect vulnerable Queenslanders, such as children under 12 who can’t get the jab, who would be at a high risk of coming into contact with someone who has the virus.
“If you can’t be vaccinated, we want to make sure those around you are vaccinated. If you are in a high risk group we also want to make sure those around you are vaccinated,” she said.
The mandate extends to airports where people were at a higher risk of coming into contact with someone who has the virus and passing on to others, Palaszczuk said.
“Airports are the gateway to the virus entering Queensland,” she said. “That’s why we continue to insist on hotel quarantine for international arrivals.”
The new mandates are in addition to the state’s public health and social measures linked to vaccination status, including mandatory vaccinations in aged care, hospitality venues, indoor entertainment venues, outdoor entertainment activities, festivals, and Queensland government and galleries museums and libraries.
“My message to Queenslanders is clear,” Palaszczuk said. “Please roll up your sleeves get vaccinated and protect Queenslanders as we unite families in time for Christmas. If you are not already vaccinated, the best Christmas gift you can give is to get vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, the emergence of Omicron will not stop Palaszczuk’s plan to allow quarantine free interstate travel for fully vaccination people from Dec. 17, she said.
Queensland requires 14 days hotel quarantine for international arrivals, which is a measure that other states agreed to stop from Dec. 17. But Queensland will keep the rule until 90 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.