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No jab, no entry Queensland tells essential staff

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Queensland is about to start locking out essential workers from NSW unless they can prove they’ve had at least one coronavirus shot.

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There were no no new cases of COVID-19 recorded for the second day in a row, and it’s been 10 days since there was an infectious case in the community.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has vowed to do everything in her power to avoid importing new cases from NSW and says cross-border movements must be kept to an absolute minimum.

Essential workers who live south of the border but work in Queensland have until Friday to get their first shot.

If they don’t, they’ll be locked out even if they hold exemptions due to the nature of their work.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says most such workers, such as emergency services and health staff, would already have had at least one jab.

But anyone who hasn’t will be given priority access at vaccination centres along the border, she said.

Authorities are working to increase vaccination rates in Queensland’s border communities.

Some are already doing well with more than half of their residents protected by a first dose, but Young wants that up around 70 to 80 per cent as soon as possible.

Queensland will this week receive almost 137,000 extra doses of Pfizer secured by the federal government from Poland.

Many of those doses will be sent to vaccination hubs at Logan, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and Caboolture, north of Brisbane, where vaccination rates are lower than other parts of the southeast.

Long queues have formed at the border after Queensland strengthened restrictions on Saturday. NSW residents are only allowed to enter for essential work, or to obtain essential goods and services they can’t otherwise get.

Police intercepted almost 6500 vehicles in the past 24 hours, and turned around 606, while motorists have been warned they may encounter hours-long delays on the M1 and the Gold Coast Highway.

Meanwhile the premier has signed a memorandum of understanding allowing the federal government to proceed with the construction of a new 1000-bed international quarantine facility at Pinkenba, near Brisbane Airport.

But it won’t be open until the middle of next year, well beyond the point when Queensland and other states hope to have achieved 70-80 per cent vaccination, the benchmark set for a return to a relatively normal life free of lockdowns.

Despite that Queensland still wants a second such facility, in a regional centre with the premier saying two such sites would mean an end to hotel quarantine, which has spawned many outbreaks in Queensland and other states.

Queensland currently has 129 active cases, and 3325 people remain in home quarantine.

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