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Friday, January 21, 2022

Premier announces COVID border reopening on state’s deadliest day so far

Queensland Premier, Annastascia Palaszczuk has announced she will lift the state’s domestic COVID-19 border restrictions from 1am on Saturday, January 15.

She said the changes were in line with the expectation that Queensland will reach the 90% double dose vaccination target around the end of next week.

The news came as Queensland recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic, with the deaths of six people with COVID-19. The state also recorded 14,914 new COVID-19 cases today.

“Now is the time for the barricades to come down and for the police to come home and to continue their normal operational duties on the frontline as they are needed as we face this Omicron wave,” the Premier said.

“I’ve taken the advice from the Chief Health Officer about the spread of Omicron across the east coast and the Police Commissioner has also spoken to me about operational requirements needed for police and that is why we’ve made this announcement today.

“I want to thank the men and women of the police and emergency services and anyone else who has worked on our borders, they have done a mighty job during the two years of the pandemic.

“Their job has kept Queenslanders safe.

“We know this has been particularly tough on our border communities and we thank them for their patience as we got Queenslanders vaccinated.”

Chief Health Officer, Dr John Gerrard said the border restrictions had done their job.

“The border restrictions have served their purpose which is to allow every Queenslander access to the vaccine, they have achieved that,” he said.

“Every Queenslander has had access to the vaccine, and now the virus, as was always expected, is spreading through Queensland but with a vaccinated population.

“The job has been done and the borders are no longer required.”

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll welcomed the announcement.

“Since the establishment of the first border checkpoint in March 2020, this has been a significant operation for the Queensland Police Service to protect the community,” Commissioner Carroll said.

“I want to sincerely thank the community for their compliance and patience in working with us over this time to ensure we had the proper safeguards in place to keep our community safe.

“Most importantly I want to thank all the police service and also our partner agencies who have been working so hard on the border operations over the past nearly two years.

“This change from 1am Saturday will enable us to re-prioritise, get back to business-as-usual and make sure we now prepare for the peak over the coming weeks.”

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the changes reflect the changing nature of the cases across Australia.

“It was important that throughout 2021 that we controlled people coming from hotspots and have restrictions around that,” Minister D’Ath said.

“That is becoming less important by the day because this virus could be in any jurisdiction with anyone travelling whether they are coming from a hotspot or not.

“We don’t want to spend our time whether we need to be declaring or changing hotspots, we should assume that anyone travelling around Australia could have the virus.

“This will alleviate many pressures off police who have done an incredible job with our borders.

“It is a lot less important to focus on where people are coming from around Australia and much more important to focus on where they are going.

“That’s why our restrictions on who can access certain venues and events remain.”

Minister D’Ath said restrictions on vaccinated international arrivals will remain until Queensland hits the 90% double dose milestone.

“Our international arrivals are the ones that will bring in new variants, we have to consider that carefully and we need a bit more time to make sure we get the settings right,” Minister D’Ath said.

“Over the next few days we’ll also be looking at airline and maritime crews to look at what arrangements should happen with them particularly when it comes to vaccinated versus unvaccinated.”

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