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Qld to reopen for Christmas, regardless

Queensland will fully reopen in time for Christmas reunions, even if the state fails to hit a key vaccination target.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has promised Queenslanders a “cautious and measured” path out of the pandemic that will finally end the tyranny of distance for many.

But the government also concedes opening up will mean “the end of zero COVID” in Queensland, vowing to redouble the vaccination drive before Delta becomes entrenched.

The two-stage plan to reopen begins on November 19. New modelling suggests that’s the day 70 per cent of eligible Queenslanders will have had two jabs of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Travellers from interstate will then be allowed to enter the state, as long as they fly. They must be fully vaccinated, have returned a negative test in the previous 72 hours, and spend 14 days in home quarantine.

However, international arrivals will still have to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine despite being fully vaccinated.

The major change will come four weeks later, on December 17, when modelling indicates 80 per cent of Queenslanders will be fully vaccinated.

The premier has said that date is “locked in” and a full reopening will proceed, even if the 80 per cent target isn’t achieved.

Travellers from interstate hotspots will be allowed to arrive by air and road, without having to quarantine. They must be fully vaccinated and return a negative test in the previous 72 hours.

International arrivals will switch from hotel quarantine to two weeks in home quarantine, as long as the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee approves.

Once Queensland’s vaccination rate reaches 90 per cent, there will be no entry restrictions or quarantine requirements for any travellers

Currently 72.5 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had one dose of a vaccine, and 56.9 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Ms Palaszczuk says the full reopening may be brought forward if people do as authorities have been urging for months and get their shots as soon as possible.

“This is your last opportunity to get vaccinated,” she said.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the modelling indicated COVID-19 infections would climb in coming months and remain high for some time, but the health system would cope.

The Australian Medical Association of Queensland has backed the plan and urged the largest remaining unvaccinated cohort – people aged 20 to 39 – to get their jabs.

AMAQ Council of General Practice Maria Bolton is confident the state will hit 80 per cent by December 17.

“Now that the vaccine is more widely available, I don’t know that delaying the opening any further makes much sense when you look at the effect COVID is having on people’s livelihoods,” she told AAP.

Queenslanders have been told they’ll have more freedoms if they are vaccinated.

“We expect that there will be some settings and venues that decide to be vaccinated-only. And in return, they will have eased restrictions,” Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.

“There are venues that you can go to now if you’re unvaccinated that you won’t be able to go to after 17 December. If you want to continue to go to those venues and businesses that may choose to be vaccinated only, then get one now.”

The premier said vaccination rates in regional and remote communities were lagging behind Brisbane, and the challenge was to achieve consistently high levels of protection regardless of geography.

She has ordered her ministers to embark on a statewide blitz to ram home the message, and Education Minister Grace Grace is also looking at getting vaccination teams into schools.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the modelling indicated there could be up to 1200 cases a day after reopening but doubted it would eventuate.

But she said one thing was certain: “This virus will find people who aren’t vaccinated.”

There were no new cases of COVID-19 reported on Monday.

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