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Qld mulls isolation rules for vaccinated

The Queensland government is considering cutting self-isolation to seven days for vaccinated close contacts of COVID-19 cases, but insists it won’t rush the decision.

The state will scrap quarantine for fully vaccinated domestic travellers from virus hotspots who test negative on Monday.

The easing is expected to lead to the rise in cases, with close contacts, even those fully vaccinated, expected to self-isolate for 14 days.

Queensland Deputy Chief Health Officer Peter Aitken says the plan is to stick with that duration. However, it could be halved depending on what happens with the Omicron variant.

“We are looking at reducing quarantine for close contacts under certain conditions that fully vaccinated to seven days, but we don’t want to jump out and do that yet,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“We’ve got the planning arrangements for that but we need to see what Omicron does as well.

“Omicron may change that and the worst possible thing for our community is to put that plan out and its current form, change it back to seven days, and find Omicron changes that.”

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the state wouldn’t rush into easing isolation requirements, unlike NSW and Victoria.

She said those states were “not leading the way on managing the virus” and she would take advice from Queensland’s experts who are following Australian Health Protection Principal Committee guidelines.

The new Omicron cases announced in Queensland on Wednesday, the minister said, tested positive on day 12.

“So let’s not be too quick to say are we you should be able to go out after seven days,” Ms D’Ath said.

“Let’s take the advice, let’s do this properly, let’s make sure we can do it in a responsible way.”

Meanwhile, vaccine mandates for hospitals, schools, childcare centres, prisons and venues begin statewide on December 17.

People will need to be fully vaccinated to work at those sites and to enter venues or visit hospitals, unless they’re a parent accompanying a child to a hospital admission or appointment.

The mandate won’t apply in supermarkets, pharmacies, post offices and newsagents, where social-distancing rules will be in force.

Small Business Minister Di Farmer says even essential businesses could opt to only allow fully vaccinated customers and exclude the unvaccinated if they want to trade without restrictions.

“The essential services are the things that really remained open during lockdown,” she told 4BC radio on Wednesday.

“There will also be a range of other businesses who may make the choice just to only have their vaccinated staff and patrons using their business.”

The minister also confirmed hairdressers and gyms would be allowed to have unvaccinated customers, with social-distancing rules applying.

Unvaccinated people can also order and pick up takeaway food from restaurants and other venues, but Dr Aitken said they shouldn’t be sitting down inside.

“Ideally, that would be lovely if they worn a mask,” he said.

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