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Queensland reveals plan to open by Christmas

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Queensland would open to interstate travellers once its vaccine rates hit 70 per cent – expected in mid-November. Photo: AAP
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Queensland’s borders will open to vaccinated interstate travellers in a month – as long as the state hits its own vaccine targets.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has released a vaccine roadmap to allow interstate travellers into Queensland, with targets aimed at pushing Queenslanders to get vaccinated faster.

She said 70 per cent of eligible Queenslanders were expected to be fully vaccinated by November 19.

From then, the state will open to people from COVID hotspots, although with strict conditions. They will have to arrive by plane, have a negative test within 72 hours of their flight and agree to 14 days of home quarantine.

Restrictions will ease further when 80 per cent of Queenslanders are fully vaccinated, expected on December 17. Visitors from hotspots will also be able to drive in from then, and quarantine will not be required – although they will still need a negative virus test.

Ms Palaszczuk flagged the likelihood of both dates coming earlier if vaccination rates increased.

“If we are going to weather the storm, we can be so prepared if we get vaccinated now,” she said on Monday.

“I am urging Queenslanders, this is your last opportunity. This is your last chance to get vaccinated.”

Once the state has 90 per cent of over-16s fully vaccinated, there will be no quarantine requirements for arrivals. No date has been given for that target.

Queensland had no new local COVID cases on Monday. It also had 56.9 per cent of its over-16s fully vaccinate, while 72.5 per cent have had one dose – but it does lag the national average.

There are also concerns about rates in some regions, and among younger people. Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said more than 584,000 Queenslanders aged between 20-39 were unvaccinated.

“This is around 15 per cent of our eligible population. If those 584,000 people came out this week to get vaccinated, you can open up Queensland to Australia. It’s in your hands,” she said.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles also flagged some freedoms that would be only for vaccinated Queenslanders.

“If you want your family to visit for Christmas, get vaccinated now. If you want to avoid regionalised lockdowns and restrictions, get vaccinated now – and that’s particularly important in those regions where the vaccination rate has been lagging,” he said.

“We expect that there will be some settings and venues that decide to be [for] vaccinated only. And in return, they will have eased restrictions. There are venues that you can go to now if you’re unvaccinated that you won’t be able to go to after 17 December.”

Ms Palaszczuk urged Queenslanders to organise vaccine doses so they could meet the crucial pre-Christmas deadlines.

“If we keep getting our vaccine, we can welcome family and friends from interstate hotspots in a little over a month who are fully vaccinated, and a month after that, in December, they can come without having to quarantine in time for Christmas,” she said.

“The faster we are vaccinated, the faster these deadlines will be achieved.”

But she said the state would reopen fully, whether it hit its 80 per cent target or not.

“We have to reunite families, this is fundamental,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

She said said the reopening plan was “measured and cautious” and the focus before mid-December would be to get every Queenslander vaccinated.

She has ordered her ministers to embark on a statewide blitz to address the significant gap between vaccination rates in Brisbane, compared with regional and remote communities.

“We are one state. We need the vaccination rates to increase right across the state,” she said.

Education Minister Grace Grace is also looking at getting vaccination teams into schools, during school hours.

Treasurer Cameron Dick said Monday marked the “the end of zero COVID” in Queensland but the state would be able to reopen without widespread disease, death and suffering.

-with AAP