A mandate preventing people unvaccinated against COVID-19 from visiting many public venues in Queensland will be eased from next Thursday.
- The Chief Health Officer said the mandate for those venues no longer had a public health benefit
- However, health authorities still warn people will be exposed to the virus this year
- Queensland recorded eight new deaths and 9,946 cases in the latest reporting period
People will no longer need to prove they have had two doses of a vaccine before heading into cafes, pubs and clubs from 1:00am on April 14.
This also includes theme parks, casinos, cinemas, weddings, showgrounds, stadiums, galleries, libraries and museums.
The mandate will still apply for vulnerable settings including schools, hospitals, correctional and aged care facilities.
It comes after the state recorded eight deaths and 9,946 new cases in the latest reporting period.
There are 479 people being treated in hospital, including 15 people in intensive care.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 90.5 per cent of Queenslanders aged 12 years and over have received at least two doses of a COVID vaccine.
“The restrictions we had in place did their job, keeping our community safe and encouraging vaccination,” she said.
“We were one of the first jurisdictions in the world to offer our people the chance to be vaccinated before our first wave arrived, and I have no doubt that this saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives.”
Since December, the state required people entering hospitality and entertainment venues to be fully vaccinated and check in with a mobile app.
It was a part of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 as the state opened its borders to then-hotspots like New South Wales and Victoria.
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said the state has passed the peak of transmission in its secondary Omicron wave, which was fuelled by the BA.2 sub-variant, and backed the easing of the mandate.
“What we are saying is this particular measure has no public health benefit now because of the proportion of people that are vaccinated,” he said.
“I cannot overstress this, vaccination will remain the key going forward as our restrictions are gradually lifted. It will be the vaccination that will be protecting us all from this disease.
Dr Gerrard said the proportion of people that had been vaccinated no longer made the mandate worthwhile.
“To put this burden on a lot of these facilities — pubs, clubs, cafes, showgrounds — for the sake of this small group of [unvaccinated] people, the public health benefit is just not there,” he said.
However, Dr Gerrard said people over the age of 65, Indigenous people over 50 and the immunosuppressed should come forward in the coming months for a fourth dose of the vaccine.
Restrictions unlikely to be reimposed
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the government waited to reduce the restrictions until it was confident the restrictions would be rolled back for good.
“We didn’t want these restrictions coming and going … we wanted to give business certainty and we want to give business notice and that’s why we’re announcing this today,” Ms D’Ath said.
“These restrictions have done their job for what we needed them to do over December, January and February, but now we can move forward and ease some of those restrictions even further.”
Dr Gerrard said it was unlikely restrictions would need to be reimposed in the future, despite outbreaks expected.
“It really would depend on if there was an unexpected virulent strain appearing, but that’s very, very hypothetical,” he said.
“I really must emphasise this virus is going to come and go it’s not going to go away. We’re going to have waves coming and going.”
The Chief Health Officer said hospital numbers are projected to fall just before the Easter break.