Queensland expects to open its borders to Covid hotspots one week before Christmas, removing the need to quarantine for fully vaccinated interstate travellers once the state hits its 80% vaccine milestone.
Queensland’s vaccine rate lags behind Victoria and New South Wales with 80% of Queensland residents aged 16 expected to have had two doses by 17 December.
From 19 November, when 70% are expected to be fully vaccinated, interstate arrivals from New South Wales and Victoria will be allowed in, but they must test negative prior to arrival and undertake 14 days of home quarantine.
The premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the announcement on Monday, as she outlined the state’s reopening plan.
“I’m releasing our Queensland Covid vaccine plan, a measured and cautious plan that will do what we want to do to reunite families and protect Queenslanders from Delta,” Palaszczuk said.
“That’s good news for families to be reunited for Christmas.”
At 70% fully vaccinated interstate arrivals must come by plane – they will not be permitted to drive across the border. Overseas arrivals will need to complete 14 days of hotel quarantine.
At 80%, expected on 17 December, fully vaccinated people will be able to enter the state by air or road, without having to quarantine, as long as they provide a negative Covid result within 72 hours of arriving.
Overseas arrivals will also be able to home quarantine at 80% if they test negative to Covid prior to departure.
At 90% fully vaccinated, there will be no border restrictions or quarantine for fully vaccinated domestic and international arrivals.
The plan does not provide a timeline for when unvaccinated people will be able to cross the border.
Palaszczuk said the measures were “good news” for families hoping to be reunited for Christmas, while maintaining a “sensible and cautious approach”.
Palaszczuk said that the dates set by the plan may be brought forward if vaccination targets are hit earlier.
“The faster we are vaccinated, the faster these deadlines will be achieved. It means that some of these dates may come forward if we get the vaccination rates up.”
The premier urged residents to get vaccinated, saying it was their “last opportunity” to get inoculated before the borders reopened.
“There is going to be a risk of Delta outbreaks happening in Queensland and we need to be prepared,” she said.
“If we’re going to weather this storm, we’re going to be so prepared for this storm if we get vaccinated now. This is your last opportunity to get vaccinated.”
Chief health officer Jeannette Young warned that although there were no active clusters in Queensland, there was still a chance an outbreak could happen.
“Once we start seeing cases this virus will find people who aren’t vaccinated. We know that you are very protected if you are vaccinated. We now have a deadline.”
It comes as treasurer Cameron Dick heralded the release of the reopening plan as the moment Queensland abandoned its “Covid-zero” approach.
“For almost 600 days for nearly two years we have kept the virus out of Queensland. Those days will soon come to an end. This will be the end of the zero Covid for Queensland.”
“If we can get this job done with as little death and little illness as possible, we can get this job done with as little economic devastation or damage as possible, then this will be of generational benefit to Queenslanders.”