Australian State Drops Mask Mandate at 80 Percent First Jab Rate

Australian State Drops Mask Mandate at 80 Percent First Jab Rate
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk gestures as she speaks during a press conference in Brisbane, Australia, on Oct.3, 2021. (Dan Peled/Getty Images)
Caden Pearson

Queensland has dropped its mask mandate on Thursday after the Australian state reached its 80 percent threshold for first dose jabs.

The change means that people in the state are only required to wear face masks at airports and on planes unless they have an exemption.

More than 3.2 million people in Queensland have now had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, about 68 percent have had both vaccines shots meaning Queensland will be expected to reach 80 percent double dose vaccinated on Dec. 17.

Until Dec. 17, people who are not vaccinated have the freedom to eat out at restaurants, cafes, pubs, and bars, attend live music gigs, sporting matches at stadiums, go to the cinema, and more.

But after Dec. 17, the state will impose sweeping restrictions on the unvaccinated, barring them from almost every kind of venue except ones that provide essential services, like supermarkets.

The new rules extend to hospitals, where only full vaccinated people may visit.

However, no one will be prohibited from seeking treatment, whether they are vaccinated or not.

According to the Courier Mail, the age group with the lowest first dose rate are 16 to 29-year-olds, with about 63 percent unvaccinated.

The Queensland government extended its vaccine mandate Wednesday to include workers at any health service in the state, including physiotherapists, GPs, pharmacies, private hospitals, allied health services, and more.

The workers have until Dec. 17 to get vaccinated.

Previously, the mandate only applied to public health workers in public hospital settings that dealt with COVID-19 cases.

About 4,000 health workers in Queensland have remained unvaccinated and may be forced to find alternative employment.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath also announced Wednesday changes to home quarantine arrangements.

Now Queenslanders or those relocating to the state have the potential to be eligible for home quarantine from Nov. 19 if they meet the criteria.

“People who meet this criteria will have the certainty to now start booking flights to come back to Queensland from the 19th of November. You can be assured you can start making plans,” D'Ath said.

To be eligible, residents or those wanting to relocate must be fully vaccinated and have received their second dose at least two weeks before they arrive in Queensland.

They will also need to have passed a COVID-19 test 72 hours before leaving, and they also must have an eligible residence to complete their home quarantine.

Eligible residences need to have ample air circulation and be separate from shared spaces in the home or shared apartment entrances.

“If you live in an apartment block where your access to your front door is in an open area, and you don’t have to go through cupboard walkways or common shared walkways, you can quarantine in those areas,” D'Ath said.