Small step to freedom: Mask rules ease, aged care visits back on in time for weekend

Queensland will ease restrictions on social distancing, hospital and aged care visits and mask-wearing in the southeast with the risk of recent COVID-19 outbreaks in Brisbane and the Gold Coast dissipating.

Oct 08, 2021, updated Oct 08, 2021
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged Queenslanders to get a flu shot. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged Queenslanders to get a flu shot. (AAP Image/Darren England)

The state recorded zero new locally-acquired cases of COVID-19 on Friday after 15,704 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Friday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said restrictions implemented last week could be eased from 4pm on Friday, 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,” she told reporters.

“So what does that mean from 4pm today, that means we go back to those stage three restrictions.”

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 meters.

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

The face mask mandate will also be eased with masks only required in indoor settings where people can’t socially-distance, like supermarkets.

“This is excellent news due to the tremendous work done by Queenslanders. We’ve had another outbreak that I believe this stage has been averted,” Young said on Friday.

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

“But if you’re feeling compromised that you can’t socially distance, that of course the onus is on you if you want to put that mask on,” Palaszczuk said.

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.

The premier expects Queensland to hit 70 per cent fully vaccinated by the end of October or early November, but she will not say when the state borders will reopen.

“We will open when it’s safe to do so,” Palaszczuk 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.”

Meanwhile, 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 about 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 over 1000 beds from the Wagner Corporation, 500 by late December 2021 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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