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The Big Easy: Queensland's virus restrictions all but over

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Queensland’s pandemic restrictions will dramatically ease next week, just in time for the Suncorp Stadium to be filled to capacity for the State of Origin decider on Wednesday night.

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A beaming Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk announced that venues like restaurants, bars and cafes, museums and art galleries will be able to double the number of patrons and customers from 4pm next Tuesday.

Labelling the easing as “great news for jobs”, she said both indoor and outdoor entertainment and sporting venues could increase their capacity to 100 per cent provided they advised people to wear masks while entering and leaving.

The announcement means instead of the 40,000 expected to attend Wednesday’s match, a crowd of up to 52,500 can attend as Queensland and NSW compete for this year’s series.

However, Palaszczuk continued to resist easing border restrictions for people in greater Sydney and Victoria, insisting a decision on borders would be taken at the end of this month.

“Victoria looking very positive and NSW looking positive as well. We will be determining it at the end of the month,” she said.

Asked what her advice would be to prospective interstate holidaymakers confused at whether they could take a Christmas break in Queensland, she said: “They can book and then at the end of the month they can pay the rest of the deposit”.

Other COVID restrictions to be eased next Tuesday include:

• Up to 50 people can gather in homes and public spaces across Queensland
• Limits in indoor premises will increase from 1 person per 4 square metres to 1 person per 2 square metres, an effective doubling of capacity.
• Up to 200 people can attend weddings and funerals, and all guests can dance at weddings, both indoors and outdoors
• Seated, ticketed indoor events like theatre, live music, cinemas and sports can increase patron numbers from 50 per cent to 100 per cent
• Outdoor events can have up to 1,500 people attend with a COVID Safe Event Checklist
• Open air stadiums can increase seated capacity from 75% to 100% with a COVID Safe Plan
• Outdoor dancing will be allowed

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said with restrictions easing, the risk of the virus taking hold again would increase and she urged Queenslanders going into bars or restaurants to check-in to enable contact tracing should it be needed.

“We can’t forget the basics,” she said.

“That means keep up social distancing, stay home if you’re sick and maintain basic hygiene.”

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said Victoria and NSW were “looking good’ in terms of controlling the spread of the virus and Queensland may be able to completely ease its border restrictions from 1 December.

National Cabinet today struck an agreement that should see Australians able to travel freely between all states and territories except Western Australia by Christmas.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australians also needed to accept that checking into venues, maintaining social distancing and adhering to COVID-safe measures were new normal parts of life.

“The task is to reopen safely and then to stay safely open,” he said.

“By staying safely open you’re giving confidence to businesses, to people in jobs, to people who are making decisions about their future and what they’re going to do.

“Stop-start, stop-start, does not provide that.”

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