Qld could scrap quarantine for green zones

Dr Jeannette Young says it's safe to welcome South Islanders to Queensland without quarantine.
Dr Jeannette Young says it's safe to welcome South Islanders to Queensland without quarantine.

Queensland will look at scrapping quarantine for international travellers entering the state from green zones after it reopened to flights from New Zealand's South Island.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says there's no evidence the ongoing outbreak in Auckland on the North Island has spread south so it was safe to welcome travellers again without making them quarantine on arrival.

"So any of you who have relatives there will be able to travel without quarantining, as they have got an outbreak in Auckland that's been going for quite a while now, but there's been no transmission to the South Island," she told reporters on Wednesday.

"As long as you don't go into the North Island in the 14 days before you travel to Queensland, you'll be able to travel directly to Queensland."

The chief health officer said that other international travellers would still be ordered into mandatory 14-day quarantine until 90 per cent of Queenslanders were fully vaccinated.

However, she said Queensland would consider dropping quarantine requirements for any countries or regions classified as COVID-19 green zones by the Commonwealth, as the South Island had been.

"So we assess that all the time, and the Commonwealth is responsible for doing that," Dr Young said.

Meanwhile, Dr Young confirmed that fully vaccinated people would still have to go into 14 days' self-isolation if they tested positive for COVID-19 under the state's reopening roadmap.

However, they will be able to isolate at home rather than being transferred to hospital, which is the current process. Any primary household contacts will also have to isolate.

"We'll assess the home, we'll assess the other people who are in that home and what the risks are, and they'll probably be able to be managed in one of our virtual wards to make sure that they're OK," Dr Young said.

"Everyone else in that home will then be, of course, a primary contact, and they'll have to quarantine for 14 days, but the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 if you're fully vaccinated is much less."

The Queensland government is also in talks with the Commonwealth regarding booster shots, given waning immunity is a potential problem identified in the government's own roadmap.

Dr Young says the government began administering booster shots to immunocompromised people in the state last week to be followed by early receivers of the vaccine.

"And then we're waiting on the ATAGI advice about booster shots for everyone, because we're seeing from overseas that it looks like people actually do need three doses to get that full immunity," she said.

"That probably will last several years, so we're just waiting for that formal advice, but we're ready to go."

The state government on Monday released its plan to reopen the borders to interstate hotspots in time for Christmas.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles says work is under way on a second roadmap that will explain how life will differ for those who are vaccinated and those who are not.

The government will open up the state in three stages.

The first stage, when 70 per cent of eligible Queenslanders are double-dosed, a mark expected by November 19, will allow fully vaccinated people who test negative to do home quarantine.

On December 17, or earlier if Queensland hits 80 per cent before then, fully vaccinated travellers can come without having to quarantine, although they must still return a negative PCR test before arrival.

At 90 per cent, the state will scrap quarantine for all fully vaccinated overseas arrivals.

Australian Associated Press