Queensland schools and childcare centres will be expected to police the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the state government says.
A mandate has been announced for anyone aged over 16 who enters a school, childcare centre, prison or airport for work or volunteering, which will bring the state into line with vaccine rules in the rest of the nation.
They must have had one dose by December 17 and be fully vaccinated by January 23 to enter any “high-risk settings”.
Education Minister Grace Grace said unlike the upcoming venue vaccine mandate, which police have promised to enforce, employers will be expected to police the high-risk setting mandate.
“It’s up to the employers in those centres because this does cover all of the government and non-government sectors and they will have to ensure that people come in onto their site, similar to other areas are vaccinated, particularly their staff at this point in time,” she told ABC Radio on Tuesday.
“Obviously, if there’s contractors coming up or volunteers, they’ll also have to have proof as well.”
When asked about unvaccinated staff potentially losing their jobs next year, the minister said, “That will be the health directive and that will be the manner in which we have to implement it.”
The mandate will not apply to people with medical exemptions or to parents dropping off or picking up their children at public facilities, but Ms Grace said private facilities could potentially bar unvaccinated parents.
She said the state government would also soon issue directions on school ventilation to help reduce the risk of virus transmission ahead of the 2022 academic year.
Ms Grace said a working group of government and private sector experts was finalising its advice on airflow in schools.
“So based on that advice, we’ll be issuing guidelines in relation to ventilation,” she said.
“It is an issue that we are looking at, we do take it seriously but at this point in time, we’re not like NSW and Victoria where we have active cases in the community.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said no new local cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the state on Wednesday, with two emerging in hotel quarantine.
She also walked back her comments on Tuesday that the new Omicron variant was “far more serious” than Delta after a national cabinet briefing on the strain from Australian Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly.
“I will let the prime minister and Professor Kelly comment on this variant as they will have the latest,” she told parliament on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Speaker Curtis Pitt has indicated he will soon issue vaccine rules for workers entering the parliament.
He stressed that he had been working on a policy for some time and was not planning to hold politicians to a different standard to other Queenslanders.
“It is my feeling this House overwhelmingly supports vaccination against COVID-19 and any COVID vaccination entry policy for this parliament precinct will reflect this,” Mr Pitt told parliament.