Friday 17th, 2021 Update

Masks will be made mandatory in Queensland over the Christmas period as a result of recorded new infections, this is for all industries.

 Here are the key points:

  • A statewide mask mandate comes into effect tomorrow and will be revised when 90 per cent of the population 16 and over is double vaccinated
  • The Premier rules out lockdowns over Christmas and New Year
  • Queensland records 20 new COVID cases, 16 have been “in the community”

Five of the new cases are in Brisbane’s north, eight in Brisbane’s south, one in West Moreton, two on the Sunshine Coast, two on the Gold Coast and two in Cairns.

Seven people acquired the virus interstate, while nine contracted it in Queensland, and the source of infection was unknown for four of those. A further four people picked up the virus overseas and tested positive in quarantine.

The state has now confirmed a total of five cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Two of those were recorded in the 24 hours to Friday morning.

Queensland COVID-19 snapshot

Reported in the past 24 hours:

  • Locally acquired cases: 16
  • Other sources: 4
  • Tests: 14,666

Queensland’s vaccine rollout (percentage of those aged 16+):

  • First dose: 89 per cent
  • Second dose: 83 per cent

Latest Case Information from QLD health

Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said one of those was in Brisbane and the other on the Gold Coast, both have been directly linked to the large Newcastle cluster.

“Both of these individuals were vaccinated and neither had symptoms,” Dr Gerrard said.

Initial tests of all residents at an aged care home in the Brisbane suburb of Holland Park, which was visited by a COVID-positive person this week, have all returned negative results.

The facility, where 83 percent of residents are fully vaccinated, was placed into lockdown yesterday and further tests will be done. 

Ms. D’Ath said since the borders reopened on Monday, there had been 105,000 applications for people to enter the state from interstate hotspots.

“With thousands and thousands of people moving around the state over Christmas to visit loved ones and to holiday, we know this virus could pop up anywhere,” she said.

Queensland-wide mask mandate announced

Ms. D’Ath said because the virus was being detected in the community, masks would become mandatory in shops, hospitals, aged care, public transport, and rideshare vehicles across Queensland from 1:00 am tomorrow. Salons and clinics must ensure all staff is wearing masks as a mandatory requirement.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the statewide mandate this morning but stopped short of extending it to cover workplaces, bars, and clubs. She said because bars, clubs, and hospitality venues became open to only vaccinated patrons from today, she did not need to extend the mandate there.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said masks will be required at shops, hospitals, on public transport and at airports. (ABC News: Stephen Cavenagh)

However Ms. Palaszczuk “strongly advised” patrons to wear masks if they cannot socially distance themselves.

“We’re not expecting lockdown over the Christmas and New Year, by wearing these masks we’re hoping to slow the spread of this virus,” she said.

The Premier said the mandate will be reviewed when Queensland reaches the 90 percent full vaccination mark.

New South Wales today recorded its highest COVID-19 daily cases with 2,213 infections, Victoria’s cases have also consistently been above 1,000 in recent days.

“That’s a lot of people coming into our state, seeing family and their loved ones, but we just need that protection so we can enjoy our freedoms,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“We are seeing more cases and we definitely don’t want to see a massive escalation over Christmas-New Year.”

Businesses bound to enforce restrictions on unvaccinated

Queensland brought in restrictions today on unvaccinated people, who will no longer be allowed to enter certain venues such as coffee shops and pubs unless they have a legally approved medical exemption.

Ms D’Ath said she had heard erroneous reports of businesses claiming they could choose whether they would abide by the new rules. “Can I make it clear, this is mandatory,” she said. “You don’t have the choice to opt-out as a business.”

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said patrols were being increased today and there would be compliance checks.

She said on Friday morning there had already been eight “business-related jobs in relation to the new rules”.

“If businesses are experiencing difficulties and concerns, do not hesitate to call the police,” she said.

“If there is a blatant disregard for the rules for the law, there are fines for individuals, $1,378, and local businesses, $6,892.”

More details to come.