After 251 days of hard border closures, Queensland will reopen to interstate COVID-19 hotspots from next Monday.
“It will be really different for Queenslanders because we are used to hearing donut days,” Ms Palaszczuk said, referring to long periods of zero cases in the state.
Queenslanders will need to make a significant adjustment to living with coronavirus, Ms Palaszczuk said, because “we are going to see cases” increase.
“We haven’t had the waves that we have seen in Sydney and Victoria,” she said.
“But we do know that there will be cases, that is going to be a reality.
“That comes with opening up.”
During the entire pandemic, which has caused 2056 deaths in Australia, only seven people have died in Queensland.
The premier shrugged off any perceived criticism of her tough stance on border closures, and maintained Queenslanders had been happy to live under tight measures.
And she would not guarantee Queensland borders will not snap shut again, if necessary.
When asked if this was the end of border closures, Ms Palaszczuk said: “We hope so.” Queensland is scheduled to hit 80 per cent of eligible people fully vaccinated this week. The state recorded one new local COVID-19 case today, linked to the Gold Coast cluster.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said one of the COVID-19 cases in the cluster had worked at a private aged care facility.
“The good news is, 89 tests have come back and they have all been negative,” she said.
“I should say there is likely to be more exposure sites on the Gold Coast going up as we interview this gentleman.”
Meanwhile, Ms D’Ath has outlined which businesses and venues will be subject to Queensland’s mandatory vaccination rules from December 17.
Vulnerable settings such as aged care centres, hospitals, prisons and disability services will have the mandate in place for staff and visitors.
“Hospitality venues, hotels, pubs, clubs, taverns, bars, restaurants, cafes will all be required to have their staff vaccinated by December 17, and also patrons have to be vaccinated to enter those sites,” Ms D’Ath said.
The same rules will apply for indoor entertainment venues, nightclubs, indoor live music venues, karaoke bars, concerts, theatres, cinemas, outdoor entertainment activities such as reef excursions, sports stadiums, theme parks and festivals where they are ticketed events, folk, arts and music festivals.
“You can have a wedding and have unvaccinated people attend but the cap is 20 people at that wedding, otherwise if it is vaccinated-only then there is no limit to those attending,” Ms D’Ath said.
“Queensland Government-owned galleries, libraries and museums as well.”
Essential services, supermarkets, retail stores, public transport, places of worship and funerals will have no vaccine mandate but will need COVID-19 safety plans and adhere to density restrictions.
Ms D’Ath clarified that people seeking medical care did not need to be vaccinated in order to attend a hospital.
She also announced another expansion of the state’s anti-coughing law.
In April last year, the Queensland Government extended the offence of spitting, coughing or sneezing deliberately on people, or threatening the same, to protect retail workers.
“We know they saw appalling behaviour while they tried to just get on with doing their job and serving the community,” Ms D’Ath said.
Now, the offence will apply to even more people.
“We will be extending this offence to protect all workers in all businesses that are bound by this public health directive,” Ms D’Ath said.
Offenders would face an on-the-spot fine of $1378.50, or a court-imposed fine of $13,785 or up to six months in jail.