News Coronavirus Qld winds back virus rules, starts on quarantine camps

Qld winds back virus rules, starts on quarantine camps

Building a quarantine camp near Toowoomba is 'a great thing for the region' the developer says. Photo Getty
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Queensland will further ease its COVID-19 restrictions as work starts on two quarantine facilities to replace its hotel quarantine program.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Friday there were no new virus cases were in the community and one in hotel quarantine, after 13,591 tests in the 24 hours to 6am.

She said that meant the state could further ease COVID-19 restrictions from 4pm.

“It’s now been around 20 days since we’ve had a case active in the community,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Once again Queenslanders have done a great job protecting each other, so in some further good news today, we are going to be easing our restrictions even more.”

Ms Palaszczuk said up to 100 people would be allowed at home gatherings and 200 people would be allowed at weddings and funerals, or one person per two square metres.

The same social-distancing limits will be allowed in cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs.

However, chief health officer Jeannette Young said face masks would remain mandatory indoors and outdoors where people are unable to socially-distance.

“It is important that we just maintain some restrictions so the main one being masks that if people could just continue to wear them how you’ve done so brilliantly over the last few weeks and even months,” Dr Young said.

“Just wear masks when you can’t socially distance, particularly indoors, the risk is far less outdoors, unless you’re in very big numbers.”

Meanwhile, federal Finance Minister Simon Birmingham has announced that Multiplex has been chosen to develop an 800-bed facility at Pinkenba, near Brisbane Airport.

It comes a day after the state government started work on a 1000-bed facility at Wellcamp, near Toowoomba, which doesn’t have federal support.

Mr Birmingham said the Pinkenba facility, which the federal government will build and the state will operate, will be used for quarantine and for potential future health crises and natural disasters.

Construction work will begin shortly. The first 500 beds will be operating in the first quarter of next year.

The Queensland government supports both projects, saying the facilities will allow the state to replace its inadequate hotel quarantine system, which has been the source of numerous COVID-19 outbreaks.

Developer John Wagner said the Wellcamp facility will cost about $66 million with the first 500 beds to be ready by the end of the year and another 500 to come online by the first quarter of 2021.

The state will rent the facility from the Wagner Group for an initial 12 months.

“We’re taking the risk if, at the end of 12 months, the Queensland government no longer needs a quarantine facility,” Mr Wagner told the Nine Network on Friday.

“We have an alternate use for this facility. It’s a very low-risk thing for the Queensland taxpayer.”

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro had been in touch to discuss how to make life easier for communities impacted by the border closure.

He said he welcomed a deal after an offer to move checkpoints south to temporarily include the NSW border town of Tweed Heads within Queensland was declined.

“We certainly welcome this change of heart, this approach from the Deputy Premier of NSW to work with us and of course we will work with them to put in place whatever measures we can to both keep the border safe, but also minimise its impact,” Mr Miles said.