On your best behaviour: Queenslanders warned about four crucial weeks

Queenslanders will need to be on their best behaviour over the coming month if pandemic restrictions are to be eased any further.

Apr 27, 2020, updated Apr 27, 2020
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. (Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. (Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled)

After announcing the first relaxation of the state’s enforced social distancing regime, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today made clear much would depend on how people used their new-found freedom.

From midnight Friday, Queenslanders will be allowed to shop for non-essential items, visit National Parks, and go for a drive or ride for pleasure, provided they remain within 50km of home and limit outings to household members or an individual taking a friend.

Addressing the media on Monday morning, Palaszczuk emphasised “if we see spikes we will not hesitate to clamp down again”. She said the take-up of the contact tracing app, COVIDSafe, was also crucial to determining whether any increase in infections could be swiftly dealt with.

Palaszczuk noted the rush on supermarkets and shops on Sunday, following the Anzac Day public holiday on Saturday, and said the Government would write to business owners to remind them of their responsibility to keep people separated in store.

The Government will also introduce on-the-spot fines of $1300, or up to $13,000 if taken to court, for anyone who coughs, sneezes or spits on emergency services officers, retail staff, and other essential workers.

“It’s absolutely disgusting to think that some people are putting other people’s lives at risk,” Palaszczuk said.

Police continue to respond to parties in enclosed premises, and in crowded streets, as well as hooning offences. Having already issued 1468 infringement notices, police will be checking compliance with the planned 50km rule.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said authorities would be closely monitoring the next month from the weekend, effectively two 14-day periods for any increase in infections to emerge.

The first Queensland case was confirmed on January 28, and authorities have been concerned about the potential for outbreaks on public holidays. This coming long weekend will ascertain how the state might respond to an increased threat.

Another three cases of COVID-19 overnight brought the total as of Monday morning to 1033. Around 100,000 tests have now been done, and additional serology cases have detected two other cases, including one in Cairns not believed linked to the hospital cluster.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said the reduced infection rate had helped the health system, with only 15 patients still in hospital, six of those in intensive care on ventilation. The death toll remains unchanged at six.

“Our results today are the results of our efforts two weeks ago,” Miles said.

Miles welcomed the new fines to help protect health workers from anyone trying to weaponise their symptoms, or fears of infection, saying clinicians at fever clinics had already been attacked.

“They should never feel threatened at work, they should certainly never feel threatened with being deliberately infected with COVID-19,” Miles said.

“A sneeze is as dangerous as a knife.”

Palaszczuk reiterated that any changes to Queensland’s school policy would not occur before May 15, and may depend on whether the infection rate increases, or if people flout the restrictions in place and put others at risk.

“We are not in normal times, we are in very different circumstances at the moment,” she said.

On Friday, the Government received a proposal from the National Rugby League to resume the football competition, however Palaszczuk said no decisions had been made. She was mindful of the ongoing impact of restrictions on certain industries but said her priority was ensuring the health and safety of Queenslanders.

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