Many Australians will be able apply for home quarantine in Queensland from Monday afternoon, a day after figures showed more 70 per cent of the sunshine state’s eligible residents were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the long-awaited ramp-up of home quarantine on Monday morning.
But there are rules: Applicants must have a residence within two hours’ drive of an airport, which has direct access from the outside rather than via shared indoor entrances.
Home quarantine is also only available to people flying into Queensland with the premier refusing to explain why people who have a home to quarantine within two hours’ drive from the border are not also eligible.
The automated system will be online from 5 pm on Monday afternoon and the pace of vaccinations may allow the next step in the state’s reopening plan to be brought forward.
“So now we’ll be welcoming people from hotspots who are fully vaccinated to come into Queensland and home quarantine for 14 days if they produce that negative test,” Ms Palaszczuk told reporters on Monday.
“So that will come online at five o’clock this afternoon and the health minister will give out more information about that.
“So can I say that’s come in earlier than expected, and if these rates continue that is good news because it may even see our date in December come a little bit forward as well, but that depends on Queenslanders getting vaccinated.”
The next step in the government’s plan is to scrap quarantine for all fully vaccinated domestic arrivals who test negative once 80 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have been fully vaccinated or December 17 at the latest.
At 80 per cent, people who have been in a hotspot interstate can enter the state by road or by air, provided they are fully vaccinated and have tested negative for the virus (at their own expense) 72 hours before arrival.
Anyone arriving from areas not classified as hotspots will face no restrictions or quarantine requirements — as long as they haven’t been to a hotspot in the 14 days prior to arrival.
Ms Palaszczuk admits people doing home quarantine may still take some time to start arriving as they need to test negative before travelling.
She believes most people will probably wait until the state reaches 80 per cent so they don’t have to quarantine at all, but says the change will allow some people to come home earlier if they want.
Applicants don’t need to be Queensland residents with home quarantine available to anyone, including people moving to the state.
“For those people who have purchased properties to come and live in paradise,” she said.
“I mean have a look how beautiful the Gold Coast is here today.”
Domestic arrivals from states that aren’t COVID-19 hotspots will still be able to enter Queensland without any restrictions or quarantine requirements.
The home quarantine expansion for domestic travellers is also likely to reduce pressure on hotel quarantine places, potentially allowing more international travellers to fly into Queensland.
But the premier is yet to announce any plan to lift Queensland’s weekly international arrivals cap of 500 people, with a surge capacity of an additional 150 people.
The vaccine drive has gathered pace since the state government announced plans to ban unvaccinated people from venues once 80 per cent of residents are fully vaccinated.
Almost 82 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had one jab and 70.25 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Once 90 per cent of eligible Queenslanders are vaccinated, quarantine will be scrapped for fully vaccinated international travellers who test negative.
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