Fixed date confirmed for businesses to "prepare" for Covid freedoms
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles has confirmed restrictions on unvaccinated people will come into effect on December 17, even if the state's borders reopen sooner than that date.
It comes as the state records no new local cases of coronavirus but one overseas case in hotel quarantine, bringing Queensland's total active cases to just three - the lowest that number has been all year.
At today's daily press conference, Mr Miles explains businesses can prepare for the new vaccination rules to come into effect next month, rather than if Queensland reaches 80 per cent fully vaccinated beforehand.
"While we have said that the date for the border opening will be floating and will be based upon the point in which we do achieve 80 per cent, we've had significant feedback from the business community ... it would be much simpler for them if that was a fixed date," he says.
"We are confirming that will be the 17th of December, this will allow businesses to prepare for the implementation of those new rules."
Queensland has passed the 85 per cent first dose mark for vaccinations, while 74.07 per cent have had both jabs.
Wednesday 24 November – coronavirus cases in Queensland:— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) November 23, 2021
No new locally acquired cases detected in Queensland overnight.
One new overseas acquired case, detected in hotel quarantine.#covid19 pic.twitter.com/dteTBexfSZ
"Orchestrated campaign to confuse people"
Mr Miles has also commented on the Federal Government's confirmation it will be covering the cost of PCR Covid tests, following a war of words between the two governments over the $150 border 'toll'.
He says the Queensland Government is welcoming the news, calling the confusion an "orchestrated campaign to confuse people" by the Federal Government.
Fired-up Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt took to Twitter last night, reiterating the tests were "always covered under the existing system that is already in place".
The claim is false.— Greg Hunt (@GregHuntMP) November 23, 2021
The Commonwealth has always funded 50 per cent of the cost of the PCR tests, as outlined in the Agreement the Premier signed on 13 March 2020. https://t.co/RRoFiu0rgQ
"I note that Greg Hunt had said that had always been the case," Mr Miles says.
"Of course, it would have been nice if he had clarified that sooner."
However, Mr Hunt is urging Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to apologise "for the unnecessary stress she has caused to Queenslanders and those planning to travel there".
When asked why Ms Palaszczuk was absent from today's press conference, Mr Miles says it is not unusual for the Deputy Premier to address the media.
"I was always scheduled to make a really important announcement here about Caboolture, I was scheduled to meet with the council - it was my turn to do the press conference."
Miles blasts media, addresses day trips to hotspots
Asked by a reporter whether he thinks an apology should be given to businesses losing bookings over the PCR test confusion, Mr Miles says the government "weren't writing those stories".
"You all were," he says.
"We were asked to comment on the requirement for a PCR test and we said people would require a PCR test ... we called on the Commonwealth to set the record straight."
The Deputy Premier has clarified travellers wanting to take day trips to Covid hotspots will require a negative test upon returning to Queensland.
"If you get a test, and you get a negative result, you can return - it's really about the turnaround," he says.
"It's just the practicalities of needing a negative test before you can return here, the testing turnaround times vary from state-to-state, clinic-to-clinic but the requirement is that you have a negative test before returning."