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Queensland hints at pre-Christmas reopening for domestic borders

The Queensland government has hinted at its plans for re-opening the state's borders, indicating "the next five to six weeks" are crucial for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Queensland government has hinted at its plans for re-opening the state’s borders, indicating “the next five to six weeks” are crucial for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The state’s government has hinted that it could open before Christmas, depending on how many Queenslanders roll up their sleeves.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says unvaccinated Queenslanders need to get the jab, with 70 per cent of eligible people in the state having had one dose by Sunday.

Ms D’Ath hinted at a timeline when asked the vaccine target for reopening the borders to NSW, Victoria and the ACT.

“The target is getting yourself protected in the next five to six weeks. That is your mission,” she said.

“Get yourself protected and that helps protect our whole community and allows us to open up.”

Brisbane Airport
Brisbane Airport (BNE) in Queensland.

However, the government has not recommitted to opening the borders once vaccination coverage reaches 80 per cent.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the state has modelled reopening at 80 per cent, but she would prefer if vaccine coverage reached 95 per cent.

“It shows that we would be stretched, of course, we would be, which is why I don’t want to stop at 80 per cent,” she said.

“I would like to see every single Queenslander, 12 years of age or older, vaccinated. I think that’s absolutely critical. 

“The more Queenslanders who are vaccinated, the less the impact will be on our health system.”

Australia Vaccine Pfizer
Pfizer Vaccine

But Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the state government should provide certainty to businesses, particularly those in the tourism sector, and Queenslanders wanting to travel interstate.

She said tourism operators could lose tourists and skilled workers to the southern states when the international borders open.

“It means that visitors will come into NSW, not into Queensland. Queenslanders – if they want to catch up with people – will need to leave the state and that’s not a good outcome for us,” Ms Andrews told reporters on Monday.

“Then, of course, they face the risk that they won’t be able to get back in when they leave; they will be shut out of their own state. So businesses and people, families, all need certainty.

“They need to know what the commitments are from this government here in Queensland.”

When asked when the state government should make an announcement about when the borders will open, Ms Andrews said: “They should make it today.”

Gold Coast
Family on the Gold Coast

Queensland has also kicked off a trial of home quarantine for 1000 residents, some of whom have been struck in interstate hotspots for months.

Participants must be fully vaccinated and test negative within three days of travelling to the state.

The government says home quarantine will be expanded if the trial is successful.

Source: AAP