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No turning back: Premier says once Qld borders open, they won't close again

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Queensland is aiming to permanently keep its domestic borders open after December 17 with the premier revealing COVID-19 quarantine requirements could also be eased for international arrivals.

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The state on Monday unveiled its roadmap to reopening to the rest of Australia laying out how restrictions will be relaxed in three stages.

Under the plan all fully-vaccinated travellers who test negative to be allowed to do home quarantine from November 19 when 70 per cent eligible Queenslanders aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated.

From December 17, or if sooner if 80 per cent of eligible Queenslanders are fully vaccinated before then, all fully-vaccinated travellers who test negative will then be allowed to enter Queensland without any quarantine.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says her aim is not to close the borders again after that date because the coronavirus will be endemic in her state.

“That is the aim because the virus will be circulating,” she told Nine’s Today program on Tuesday.

“As we know, there will be some hospitalisations, but that will be people who are largely unvaccinated. So, that is why we keep telling everyone get vaccinated. So fingers crossed that we will all sort of move together on this particular area.”

However, the premier can’t completely guarantee the borders would remain open permanently if national cabinet decided the measures needed to return.

“I don’t know if it is rock solid … but that is the intention of the national cabinet and that is part of the national plan,” she added.

Palaszczuk indicated that quarantine times for fully-vaccinated travellers could be further reduced to seven days, pending advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) due to be handed to national cabinet.

The final stage of the roadmap is to remove all travel restrictions on fully-vaccinated travellers from overseas once vaccination coverage reaches 90 per cent within Queensland.

The premier indicated that quarantine rules for fully-vaccinated international travellers could also be adjusted to be in line with domestic travellers if the AHPPC approves.

“The issue is initially it is about where you are coming from overseas and what are the outbreaks like over there and don’t forget you can pick it up going through the airports and we know that hotel quarantine has been a really good line of defence,” Palaszczuk said.

“We will move with the national cabinet on this issue, and NSW was supposed to have a trial, so let’s see how that trial goes.”

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) says the plan will boost business confidence, but has asked for further clarity and direction.

Businesses need to know how mandatory vaccine rules for workplaces and business premises would be controlled, and if there would be changes to density limits and other compliance requirements.

“Businesses need to know what they’re up against,” CCIQ policy and advocacy manager Cherie Josephson said.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles alluded to different rules for unvaccinated people in the state, saying their circumstances will vary from the inoculated population.

Queensland again recorded no new cases on Monday, but Palaszczuk has acknowledged reopening will mean “the end of zero COVID” in her state.

Currently 72.5 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had one vaccine dose, and 56.9 per cent are fully vaccinated.

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