COVID-19 rules eased for Queensland regions as state ‘averts’ another outbreak

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The state government has announced it will ease restrictions on social distancing, hospital and aged care visits and mask-wearing in the south-east, as the risk posed by COVID-19 outbreaks in Brisbane and the Gold Coast dissipates.

Queensland administered 15,704 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Friday and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said restrictions implemented in the south-east last week can be eased almost 10 days after an outbreak began in Brisbane.

“Because we’ve had such good news over the last week, the Chief Health Officer Dr Young has today advised that we can ease restrictions from 4pm today,” Ms Palaszczuk told reporters.

Under the new rules, pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes and other indoor venues can have double the density of patrons, with one person per two square metres.

Up to 100 guests will be permitted in homes, and visits will again be allowed in hospitals and residential aged and disability care providers.

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Up to 200 people can attend weddings and funerals, and all wedding guests will be able to return to the dancefloor.

The mask mandate will also be eased, with masks required only in indoor settings where people cannot socially-distance, such as supermarkets.

The premier said students and school teachers would also have to wear masks indoors but teachers would be allowed to remove them while addressing classes from the front of the room.

Queensland Health administered another 18,776 vaccine doses in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Friday, with 50 per cent of eligible Queenslanders fully vaccinated as of Wednesday.

Ms Palaszczuk expects Queensland to hit its 70 per cent fully vaccinated target among the 16+ population by the end of October or early November, but would not reveal when the state borders will reopen.

“We will open when it’s safe to do so,” the premier said.

“So what we’re looking at now we’re looking very closely at what’s happening in NSW and Victoria, and then some easing of restrictions in NSW, their vaccination rates are going up quite steadily, which is great.”

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Meanwhile, Ms Palaszczuk said authorities would examine the success of the home quarantine trial after two weeks of operation.

If all goes well, the premier hopes to announce an extension around the time of the next national cabinet meeting.

The trial comes as the first concrete is poured at the state government’s dedicated quarantine facility at the Wellcamp site near Toowoomba.

It’s expected to be completed “months before” a second facility proposed by the Commonwealth at Pinkenba, near Brisbane.

Wellcamp’s lease agreement commits the state to leasing more than 1000 beds from the Wagner Corporation, 500 by late December, and the remaining 500 in the first quarter of 2022.

“The initial lease term is of 12 months (from 1 April 2022), with an option to extend this for at least another year,” Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.

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