Annastacia Palaszczuk has given Queenslanders a 12-day deadline to get vaccinated or risk missing out on freedoms.
The Queensland government has given 400,000 unvaccinated Queenslanders just 12 days to get jabbed if they want to avoid catching the coronavirus from an influx of Christmas visitors and risk losing their freedoms.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Tuesday said a final vaccination push was needed if the state was to achieve the 80 per cent double-dose target it expects to hit for the reopening on December 17.
She is particularly concerned about the vaccine rates in regional Queensland, which are lagging those in state’s southeast corner and mean there are thousands of people vulnerable to Covid-carrying visitors when the border opens up.
“People will be travelling. Now, what that means is we put in a very strict criteria that people have to be fully vaccinated to come here, but I can‘t tell you when the next Delta outbreak is going to happen,” Ms Palaszczuk said at a press conference in Rockhampton.
“And the last thing you want to see is that outbreak happening here on your doorstep. If it comes through this region, with your vaccination rates at the moment, it will cause a lot of damage, and a lot of heartache”
Her message comes after the mayor of the Gold Coast “analysed the statistics” and demanded Queensland accelerate its border reopening plan by three weeks.
Mayor Tom Tate on Tuesday released figures he says justify a November 25 reopening of the state’s borders – and not the December 17 as announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday.
Mr Tate said Queensland’s accelerating vaccination rates meant the border fencing between NSW and Queensland should be “ripped up and thrown in the bin” three weeks before the state government intended to do so.
“The current suggested date (December 17) is too close to Christmas and families will likely make other choices which is something we don’t want,” he said.
“My message is: that businesses are going broke and tourism is on its knees.”
Mr Tate cited the Gold Coast-specific vaccination rates – which are slightly down on the state average of 56.9 per cent double dose – and added it was realistic to expect that both the Gold Coast and state average would reach the magic 80 per cent figure much sooner than expected.
However, what Mr Tate’s figures do not show are the vulnerable areas of regional Queensland – including Indigenous communities – that have full vaccination rates lagging below 30 per cent.
Ms Palaszczuk has often cited a need to protect regional Queenslanders for as long as needed until their vaccination rates can match the levels seen in state’s south east corner.
Queensland on Monday finally ditched its zero-Covid mindset and released a reopening road map with a December 17 reopening date for fully vaccinated visitors. Based on modelling from QIMR Berghofer, this is when the state will reach the 80 per cent vax target.
Ms Palaszczuk insisted this date had been ‘locked in’ after facing months of questions around how and when Queensland was planning to welcome people back in.
Border restrictions will also ease somewhat for visitors when the state reaches 70 per cent double-dose coverage – tipped to be November 19.
Mr Tate slammed the reopening plan but Ms Palaszczuk hit back on breakfast TV on Tuesday morning, declaring she “doesn’t know what planet he’s living on”.
“He needs to be on board and driving vaccinations so the businesses will be able to do even better in the Christmas and new year period,” she said.
Ms Palaszczuk on Monday said the government reserved the right to implement regionalised lockdowns in the event of a severe outbreak once the borders opened, while unvaccinated Queenslanders could soon be prevented from entering certain businesses.
On Tuesday she would not rule out slamming the borders shut again after December 17.
“We hope there’s not, but, you know, we have to work to the national plan and that is exactly our intention,” Ms Palaszczuk said.