Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles announced the changes today, which Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk echoed on social media, at the start of a press conference with Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.
The Liberal National Party was given a briefing this morning, under caretaker arrangements, but leader Deb Frecklington later said the easing of restrictions wasn’t mentioned. It is understood Young made the decision some hours after that briefing and gave the government notice.
Miles said the decision to bring forward most of stage five, to start at 4pm today, was “a reward for Queenslanders” after 36 days had passed without a case of community transmission.
Queensland recorded two new cases of COVID-19 but both were returned travellers already in hotel quarantine: one, in Townsville, was part of a group of miners returned from Africa, while the other, on the Gold Coast, was someone who had returned from the United States.
Young said restrictions were also able to be eased because Queensland Health had shown its ability to clamp down on any outbreaks, and the changes would still allow for rapid contact-tracing in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case.
Under the changes, groups of up to 40 people will be able to gather in private homes or in the community where there are no COVIDSafe plans, aged care facilities will be able to organise outings, and weddings could have up to 40 people dancing at any one time
“Year 12 can celebrate with dancing at their end of year formals, at their end of year graduation ceremonies – that’s a great thing to happen,” Young said.
The amended roadmap still has stage six, anticipated to start on December 1, lifting the number of people allowed at public gatherings, with no restrictions on the number dancing at weddings.
While the testing rate is running below the previous minimum target of 5,000 tests per day, Young said she was comforted by the fact Queensland was also rolling out more sewage testing for surveillance. Viral fragments found in Townsville sewage have yet to be explained.
The border restrictions with NSW are unlikely to be lifted at the end of the month, with Young saying she hoped the state was able to get its outbreak under control. She was happy with Victoria’s progress and hoped it continued.
Frecklington said she supported the changes announced today if they were based on health advice.
Politician and businessman Clive Palmer has called for the border restrictions to be lifted, but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today accused him of being irresponsible. She also pointed to a possible Electoral Commission of Queensland investigation into whether he is technically a developer and therefore unable to fund his party’s campaign.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged Queensland not to delay lifting the border restrictions, and on Thursday acknowledged Queensland’s contact tracing had been far better than Victoria.
But after finding himself stranded in Cairns, and unable to participate in a national cabinet meeting today, Morrison faced criticism from Miles for not taking a commercial flight to Brisbane where secure teleconferencing facilities were available.Jump to next article