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Free at last: Police urge patience as border set to reopen from next Monday


The waiting is over – Queensland’s borders will finally be thrown open to the rest of the country at 1am on December 13.

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The long-awaited reopening comes four days ahead of the original December 17 timeframe and comes as 80 per cent of the State is expected to be double vaccinated this week.

With it comes new freedoms for Queenslanders and interstate residents wanting to travel across the border for Christmas.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, flanked by the Police Commissioner and Health Minister, made the announcement Monday afternoon.

Under the new rules, travellers from interstate hotspots can arrive in Queensland by road or air, so long as they are fully vaccinated and provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test in the previous 72 hours. No quarantine is required.

And on day five after arrival travellers must get a Covid-19 test.

Another big change is that the waiting period for full vaccination status after the second shot will be reduced from two weeks to one week.

“Queensland’s Plan to Reunite Families had nominated December 17 as the target to re-open,” Palaszczuk said.

“It is clear we will reach our target of 80 per cent fully vaccinated much sooner although exactly when is difficult to predict.

“Nominating a time and date provides travellers and business with certainty to make their plans and comes four days early.”

Palaszczuk thanked Queenslanders for their role in ensuring the State had remained safe during a long two years of the pandemic.

As of Monday afternoon, 78.67 per cent of Queenslanders were double vaccinated and 87.37 per cent had received one dose. It is expected that the State will hit 80 per cent double vaccination status within days.

Palaszczuk said Queenslanders and their families can now be reunited for Christmas and she said the decision to bring forward the opening date was to provide certainty to families, businesses and tourist operators.

Also from next Monday, vaccinated residents in the border zones will be able to move freely across the border using 14-day border passes but without the requirement for virus tests.

“That includes people in Queensland being able to go into the border zone for a day trip or to visit family and friends, they would need a border pass but they only need to be fully vaccinated, they won’t need a PCR test,” Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

International arrivals to Queensland must be fully vaccinated and return a negative test within 72 hours of departure, and will also require a test on arrival as well as 14 days in home or hotel quarantine.

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said police were expecting extensive delays once the borders open.

She urged people to “plan ahead and pack their patience”.

There were also warnings that once the borders are open Queensland can expect to start recording COVID-19 cases.

Acting chief health officer, Dr Peter Aitken, urged people to wear masks, socially distance, get tested if ill and get vaccinated.

“We will see cases of Covid in the community. We have to be ready to live with that,” Dr Aitken said.

And whilst the borders will now be open from December 13, the new restrictions for businesses will begin on December 17, a decision made to assist with planning.

At that time a raft of new rules will also come into place, whereby unvaccinated people will be banned from businesses, hospitals and health settings and hospitality venues.

From December 17, unvaccinated visitors and staff will be banned from the following places:

Only 20 people will be allowed to attend weddings if any of the people, including the wedding party, are unvaccinated.

The first hurdle in approval for children aged five to 11 years to be vaccinated has also been reached, with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, giving approval.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, ATAGI, is now weighing up whether a larger interval than three weeks between doses is needed for younger children.

It is expected that children five to 11 will be able to received their vaccinations from mid January 2022, in time for the new school year.

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