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Wear a mask or cop a fine: Blunt warning to tourists on the Gold Coast

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Tourists on the Gold Coast have been warned – start wearing masks or cop a fine.

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The stark warning, from the State’s Police Commissioner, comes as COVID-19 cases surge on the Gold Coast.

Commissioner Katarina Carroll, speaking in Maryborough on Tuesday, said it was mostly visitors on the Gold Coast who were flouting mask rules, not locals.

“Disappointingly what we have found on the Gold Coast is a lot of people are not wearing masks so we have run a lot of operations over the entire Gold Coast,” Carroll said.

She said it was predominantly visitors who were going maskless.

“Please wear your mask. If it is blatant disregard, you will be fined … wear your masks otherwise you will be fined,” Carroll said.

And anyone holding parties and blatantly disregarding police directives would also be fined, she said.

Carroll said police were currently handing out 200-300 masks per day on the Gold Coast and this should not be the case.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said authorities were particularly concerned about the virus spread on the Gold Coast, where a lot of people are now ending up in hospital and in intensive care.

“What we want to see is more people on the Gold Coast wearing masks. Just because you are on holiday doesn’t mean you can’t get Covid,” Palaszczuk said.

The latest Queensland  case numbers will be released later on Tuesday.

However on Monday it was revealed that the Gold Coast, lagging behind in vaccination rates, was bearing the brunt of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Of the 419 people in hospital on Monday, 101 of them were on the Gold Coast. And of the 11 people in ICU on the coast, six were unvaccinated and suffering severe Covid type pneumonia, akin to the symptoms which killed so many in the early days of the virus, before vaccination were available.

Palaszczuk also batted away criticism from the Prime Minister of the State’s plan to delay the school return by two weeks to enable children to be vaccinated and for the State to get past the expected peak of the Omicron wave, expected in late January.

Scott Morrison has questioned whether the plan, so far only happening in Queensland, risks extending the Omicron wave.

“We have acted on health advice. I always act on health advice,” Palaszczuk said.

And she said parents she had spoken with had expressed thanks for the delay.

On Tuesday, New South Wales recorded 25,870 new cases and 11 deaths while Victoria has recorded 37,994 cases and 13 deaths.

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