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Qld mask mandates likely if virus spreads

Queensland has not recorded any new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases since reopening its border, but the chief health officer says an indoor mask mandate is likely if there is sustained and widespread community transmission.

Four new cases – including one Omicron – emerged after 10,657 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Tuesday, but all were in home or hotel quarantine.

Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said it is too early for the expected rise in cases after quarantine was scrapped for vaccinated travellers from domestic hotspots.

“At this stage we have not seen any impact from the opening of the border, it is a little bit early to see something like that,” he told reporters.

“But we are expecting that it (outbreak) is inevitable and something we have planned for for two years.”

Deputy Premier Steven Miles was confident cases would remain manageable over Christmas.

Mr Miles said it would be unlikely that restrictions such as localised lockdowns would be needed for the next few months, let alone over Christmas.

“The timing of this border opening has been planned to ensure that we can get through Christmas get through the Christmas break,” he said.

“The modelling suggests that even as cases start to arrive, they won’t be reaching peak kind of levels until into March next year.”

But Dr Gerrard said indoor mask mandates were being discussed every day, but they would only ordered if there was evidence of widespread and sustained community transmission.

“It’s probably a little warm in Queensland for outdoor mask mandates and they’re probably not so critical,” he said.

With a vaccine mandate coming into effect for Queensland’s private hospitals, aged and disability care facilities on Wednesday, Dr Gerrard expected all health care workers to be double dosed.

He said any remaining vaccine hesitancy among health workers had been “melting away” in recent days.

“It is likely that all of them will get vaccinated,” the CHO said.

“There have been very few health care workers that have not been vaccinated.”

Mr Miles said health care providers would only have to check if people entering had a green tick on their check apps from Wednesday.

He warned people visiting private health facilities to ensure they complied with the vaccine mandate.

“Any enforcement beyond that, that is the job of police and police have said that they take that job very seriously,” Mr Miles told reporters in Brisbane.

Meanwhile, unvaccinated people will be banned from attending most Queensland venues, including cafes, restaurants, nightclubs, stadiums and theme parks from Friday.

Dr Gerrard warned the venue mandate was here to stay, and it would be a longstanding policy.

“We are not even looking at removing the mandate. It is not even something that is on the agenda,” he said.

“It’s not fair on the vaccinated to ask them to make sacrifices for the very small number of people who have not become vaccinated.”

Overall 81.29 per cent of eligible Queenslanders are double-dosed and 88.35 per cent have had one jab.

Dr Gerrard also said there had been a significant increase in vaccination rates since the border reopened, particularly on Gold Coast where jab uptake had doubled in the recent days.

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