Queensland’s chief health officer says people should “prepare and hope” for the state’s borders to reopen in time for Christmas.
But Dr Jeannette Young could not say whether reaching coverage of 80 per cent of eligible Queenslanders fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will trigger an automatic reopening of the state’s borders before December 25.
The state borders have been closed to most of NSW since July 21, to Greater Sydney since June 22, regional Victoria since July 17, and Melbourne since May 28.
Hundreds of Queensland residents and people trying to move to the region have been stuck in limbo interstate for months.
NSW released a roadmap showing it is due to starting coming out of its hard lockdown on October 11, when it is expected to reach the milestone of 70 per cent of eligible people fully vaccinated, with more freedoms two weeks after that date, when 80 per cent will have had two jabs.
However, the Queensland government has consistently side-stepped questions about whether the borders will reopen to Victoria and NSW before Christmas.
On Monday, Young raised hopes hard borders could come down before the festive period, saying businesses should start getting ready.
“Of course, yes, we should all prepare and hope and get everyone vaccinated,” she told reporters.
“That’s the most important thing business can do – to be out there saying, ‘Just get vaccinated’, because the more people who are vaccinated, the more likely we can remove those last remaining restrictions.”
Borders are not specifically mentioned under the national reopening plan, however some states have committed to quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated people once coverage reaches 80 per cent.
Queensland had given 63.8 per cent of eligible residents at least one dose of a vaccine by Saturday, with 44.9 per cent fully vaccinated.
Young said vaccination coverage was not the only thing to consider when making a decision on state borders.
The state has stressed Doherty Institute modelling points out that low virus case numbers and adequate testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine measures are needed to ensure hospitals are not overwhelmed when the country reopens.
“It depends on the situation, it’s not a simple straightforward process,” Young said.
“You can’t just pick something, and then say something else is going to happen, you’ve got all of the issues, it’s not a simplistic thing.
“It would be wonderful to be able to know we’ve got to 80 per cent (vaccine coverage) and something will happen, unfortunately it’s just not that straightforward.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was non-committal on a date for reopening, saying she was waiting to see new modelling at national cabinet on Friday.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing that this week,” she said.
In an interview on American television, Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated Australia was set to ease tight restrictions on overseas travel when the nation hits 80 per cent vaccination coverage for people aged 16 and above.
The prime minister said the first steps would allow Australians to leave and fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents to return home.
“That will occur before the end of the year. It could happen well before that,” he told CBS News while in the United States.
Palaszczuk said she had sympathy for people stuck interstate and overseas, but Queensland borders were closed to contain and suppress COVID-19 in NSW and Victoria.
“It’s a very tough situation,” she said. “I just spoke to a gentleman this morning and his parents can’t come up for his daughter’s wedding, his daughter is getting married on the weekend.
“It is very tough circumstances at the moment and that’s because New South Wales is in lockdown.”
Queensland recorded zero new cases of COVID-19 on Monday after 5922 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Monday.
There are 12 active cases in the state.Jump to next article