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Qld’s new mask rules come into force

Mask regulations are tightening in Queensland cinemas and hospitality venues as COVID-19 case numbers in the state surge into triple figures for the first time.

Queensland’s reported 186 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, prompting the state government to ramp up the requirement for mask-wearing.

From 5am on Thursday, workers and patrons at theatres and cinemas will be required to wear masks, while staff in hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants will also have to mask up.

Masks are already mandated in supermarkets and shops as well as public transport and rideshares.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk vowed Queensland would stay open despite the rapid increase in Omicron infections.

“We want to keep our restaurants and our cafes and everything operating over Christmas and New Year,” she said.

The new rules come as the state on Wednesday hit the 90 per cent threshold for first-dose vaccinations, according to federal government data.

“We are seeing preliminary advice that the vaccines appear to be working and they are protecting Queenslanders from getting seriously sick,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Now is the time to go and get vaccinated and for those Queenslanders who haven’t had their booster shot (to) please go and get their booster shot when the time arrives because we know the booster is an added layer of protection.”

Chief Health Officer John Gerrard warned infection rates would continue to rise.

“This is a substantial increase from yesterday and not surprising because we have a very contagious virus in Omicron which has become the dominant virus here in Queensland,” Dr Gerrard said.

“This virus is spreading rapidly through the community. We know that it’s happening around the world so we’re certainly not unique.”

Queensland relaxed quarantine requirements for double vaccinated close contacts of COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, halving the isolation period from 14 days to a week.

At least 85.3 per cent of eligible residents aged over 16 are now fully vaccinated with modelling suggesting Queensland will hit 90 per cent double-dosed in early-to-mid January.

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