Queensland Plan to Open Borders Before Christmas ‘Locked In’

By Henry Jom
Henry Jom
Henry Jom
Henry Jom is an Australian-based reporter covering local Australia news. He has a background in business and healthcare and is currently completing a post graduate law degree. Contact him on henry.jom@epochtimes.com.au.
October 18, 2021 Updated: October 18, 2021

Australia’s sunshine state will reopen its borders by mid-December even if its 80 percent fully vaccinated target is not reached.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk unveiled the state’s new roadmap on Oct. 18 saying that it was “good news” and “fundamental” for families to be reunited for Christmas.

“We know that the world is a big place and there are families across Australia and there are families across the world and people have been telling me how they missed seeing their uncles, their aunts, their mothers, their fathers, their children,” Palaszczuk told reporters on Oct. 18.

Under the roadmap, Nov. 19 is the expected date Queensland will reach 70 percent of its eligible population fully vaccinated. Arrivals from interstate hotspots such as Sydney or Melbourne will be allowed in if they are fully vaccinated, and must arrive by air. They must also have returned a negative COVID-19 test in the previous 72 hours, and spend 14 days in-home quarantine.

A month later on Dec. 17, when 80 percent of eligible Queenslanders are expected to be fully vaccinated, fully vaccinated arrivals will be allowed in by road and by air, without having to quarantine. However, they must still return a negative test within 72 hours.

Furthermore, international arrivals who are fully vaccinated will undergo two weeks of home quarantine, if the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee agrees with the plan.

Palaszczuk said the Dec. 17 date was “locked in,” indicating the second stage of the reopening will proceed even if the 80 percent target isn’t achieved. She added that the reopening plan could occur earlier if the vaccination thresholds are met before the dates listed.

Then, once 90 percent of Queenslanders over the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated, there will be no entry restrictions or quarantine requirements for any travellers, regardless of whether they’ve come from interstate or overseas.

This includes unvaccinated travellers who will still need to quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in the state.

“This is really important that we unite Queenslanders but we do it in the safest way. We are going to try to minimise the risk and there are key steps along the path,” Palaszczuk said.

Palaszczuk added that the roadmap was “measured and cautious,” and the state government will now focus on getting more Queenslanders vaccinated by Dec. 17.

Currently, regional areas of the state were behind Brisbane when it came to vaccination rates, Palaszczuk said, and added that another vaccination blitz would be launched to increase jab rates.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young told reporters on Oct. 18 that worst-case scenario modelling shows Queensland could see up to 1200 cases per day once it was fully opened, but that the hospital system had the capacity to deal with the potential surge in COVID-19 cases.

Queensland treasurer Cameron Dick added that the days of zero COVID for Queensland “will soon come to an end,” and another incentive for communities to get vaccinated was that federal funding for businesses forced into lockdown would cease once the 80 percent target is reached.

This comes as Australia’s two most populous states, NSW and Victoria, announced plans to scrap hotel quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers from November.

Currently, 72.2 percent of eligible Queenslanders have had one dose of a vaccine, and 56.6 percent are fully vaccinated.

On Oct. 18, Queensland reported zero new COVID-19 cases, and has 25 active cases.

AAP contributed to this report.

Henry Jom
Henry Jom is an Australian-based reporter covering local Australia news. He has a background in business and healthcare and is currently completing a post graduate law degree. Contact him on henry.jom@epochtimes.com.au.