Queensland to ease Covid restrictions


As the Covid-19 vaccination rollout in the Australian state of Queensland is fast approaching a milestone, health authorities are easing some restrictions while also seeking ways to persuade even more residents to get fully inoculated.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Tuesday that masks would no longer be required indoors once 80 per cent of eligible residents receive at least one of their two required vaccine doses, reports Xinhua news agency.

According to the latest figure updated on Tuesday, 79.6 per cent of Queensland residents aged over 16 have received their first shots, while 67.4 per cent were fully immunized.

“This is another small step back towards life as normal,” Palaszczuk said.

“Queenslanders have done an incredible job all through the pandemic and this is their reward.”

Her announcement coincides with new rollout modelling showing that at the state’s present jab uptake, it should reach its 80 per cent double-dose milestone about 10 days ahead of the previous estimation of December 17.

Palaszczuk has said if that target is reached early, she would not hesitate to reopen the southern border to the neighbouring state of New South Wales (NSW), which is still recovering from an outbreak of the Delta variant of the virus that began in mid-June.

That imminent border opening, however, is causing some concerns among health authorities who fear certain regions in Queensland are lagging behind in their rollouts and could therefore soon be at more risk from NSW visitors.

A report by the national broadcaster ABC on Tuesday quoted a consumer behaviour expert as saying that more is needed to be done to win over vaccine-hesitant Queenslanders.

“There’s always a certain part of the population who are really hard to get to — to change their behaviours,” Joy Parkinson from Griffith University told ABC News.

“Family is really important to most people, so if we talk about them being able to see their family, spend time with their family… I think really focusing on those good things is important.”

Parkinson also suggested engaging community leaders to prevent the spread of vaccine misinformation.

“In those regional communities, a lot of people really look up to community leaders, for example, mayors, the local footy club captain,” she said.

“So getting them out there and promoting getting vaccinated is really important.”