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Border breakthrough as Annastacia Palaszczuk lets thousands of stranded Queenslanders come home

Thousands of Queenslanders may finally be allowed to come home after the state announced it would being a trial of home quarantine.

From next Monday, October 11, a Brisbane-only trial will allow 1,000 people who’ve applied to come home from interstate hotspots to go into 14 days of home, rather than hotel, quarantine.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath announced the criteria for those eligible to take part in the trial on Thursday.

‘We’ve already started reaching out to Queenslanders stuck interstate who’ve already applied to return to Queensland,’ she said.  

‘You must have had at least two weeks pass since your second vaccination so if you’re stuck interstate and haven’t been vaccinated yet, hurry up and get vaccinated  if you want to home quarantine going forward,’ Ms D’Ath said.

‘You also must reside within two hours of Brisbane Airport. If you can’t reside alone, then the whole household must quarantine. You’ll also be bound by the home quarantine  check-in system we have put in place.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath announced the criteria for those eligible to take part in the home quarantine trial on Thursday

Residents in the home quarantine trial must live within two hours of Brisbane Airport

Residents in the home quarantine trial must live within two hours of Brisbane Airport

Ms D’Ath said otherwise eligible residents must also have a negative Covid test less than 72 hours before they travel. 

Penalties would apply for breaches of the quarantine rules, and people may be ordered into hotel quarantine at their own expenses.

The trial would be re-evaluated in two weeks to assess its success, Ms D’Ath said. 

Queensland had recorded no new community cases of Covid. Six additional cases were detected, one in hotel quarantine and five on board a commercial bulk carrier off Cape York.  

Currently, exemptions for home quarantine are only granted to certain students attending boarding schools in interstate hotspots, disabled people and people recovering from medical procedures.

The trial participants must have a home address in Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Ipswich, Logan, Gold Coast and Redland.  

‘We ask that those Queenslanders taking part in the trial take the requirements of quarantining at home very seriously, to give the trial the best chance of success and possible future expansion,’ a Queensland Health spokesperson said.

The home quarantine trial has been welcomed by thousands of Queenslanders stuck interstate and people from other states who are trying to move to Queensland.  

Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young explained the rationale for restricting home quarantine to the Brisbane area.

‘The thing I’m looking at is not just that the person coming from interstate is vaccinated, but that the community around them is vaccinated … and we know at this point in time we have higher vaccination rates in Brisbane.

‘We also have hospitals with more experience of Covid cases in Brisbane, so at the moment we’re restricting it to those LGAs in Brisbane.’ 

Queensland's home quarantine trial would be re-evaluated in two weeks to assess its success, Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said.

Queensland’s home quarantine trial would be re-evaluated in two weeks to assess its success, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

Pictured: Brisbane residents line up at a mass vaccination hub at South Bank. Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said whether Queensland borders would re-open once Australia reached the 80 per cent full vaccination target would depend on Queenslanders improving the state's vaccination rate

Pictured: Brisbane residents line up at a mass vaccination hub at South Bank. Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said whether Queensland borders would re-open once Australia reached the 80 per cent full vaccination target would depend on Queenslanders improving the state’s vaccination rate

Ms D’Ath said whether Queensland borders would re-open once Australia reached the 80 per cent full vaccination target would depend on Queenslanders improving the state’s vaccination rate.  

‘It’s up to you,’ she said. ‘You get to decide how quickly we get to those targets.

‘The quicker you get vaccinated, the quicker you can get back to enjoying our lifestyle and opening our economy fully up.’  

Ms D’Ath repeated the claims by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Dr Young yesterday that the spread of Delta was a matter of time in Queensland.

‘Don’t wait, this virus will come, it will absolutely come, it will come to Mackay, it will come to Rockhampton, it will come to Airlie Beach and Proserpine and Bowen,’ she said. 

‘It will come to every town and city across Queensland and across Australia. The question is how prepared are you for that, [so we] need to get vaccinated now.’ 

Ms Palaszczuk snapped at reporters yesterday when asked whether Queensland was still following the national plan to end border controls once the 80 percent target was reached.  

‘That’s not correct, no, don’t put words in my mouth. That’s not exactly what I was saying, though, I said very clearly, we’re in stage A of the national plan. We are following that national plan,’ the premier said.

‘Part of that national plan is booster shots, so ask the prime minister the plan for the booster shots, because that’s in the plan as well.

‘So, you know, don’t just cherry pick parts of the national plan, when you’re not cherry picking other parts of the national plan.’   

Queensland’s borders are set to stay closed to interstate virus hotspots until 80 per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

Currently, 68.3 per cent have had one dose of a vaccine and 49.5 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young is considering rolling out COVID-19 vaccines in schools.

‘We’ve definitely been looking at that,’ she told ABC radio on Thursday.

‘At this stage I want … them (eligible children) to come forward with their parents and their grandparents, get the whole family out and get everyone vaccinated.

‘Then we are going to later on … look at schools because we have really good vaccine programs in our schools.’

School children are already vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella.

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