World news – AU – From borders to dance floors: When will Queensland relax restrictions?


While Queenslanders settle into « COVID-normal » freedoms, the Chief Health Officer has indicated restrictions could be eased further on Friday.

And today she announced Byron Bay, Lismore, Richmond Valley, Glen Innes and Ballina local government areas would be added to the border bubble from October 1 at 1:00am.

Inside parts of Queensland, some rules on public gatherings could also be eased within days.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said if there was no more community transmission from South East Queensland clusters, it could be by the end of the week.

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« Thursday would be 14 days after the last case thought to be infectious in the community so that’s an appropriate review point, » Mr Miles said.

A trial at the Gabba last night, which tested for how people responded to a 75 per cent capacity scenario while seated, could also pave the way for further easing of restrictions in outdoor venues.

If the trial proves successful, Dr Young will grant the AFL permission to host 30,000 spectators for the code’s Gabba grand final.

That means COVID-safe plans that allow a similar density of people in other settings could be on the horizon.

But when asked if the same rule might apply to homes or private gatherings, Dr Young made no indication of any future changes.

« We can’t go and dictate what people do in their own homes other than the size of the gatherings, and that’s why that’s in place. »

« Dancing is difficult because — no matter how you manage it — you don’t socially distance when you dance, and we know that is a high risk, » Dr Young said.

« So I think we just need to methodically manage this going forward so we don’t get transmission. »

At every media conference, Queensland authorities are quizzed on when, and under what circumstances, various borders will reopen.

Dr Young and Mr Miles have repeatedly said that until there are 28 consecutive days of no community transmission in New South Wales, border restrictions will remain in place.

« At this point in time that’s a rule for Queensland — that is what we’ve been using right from the start, » Dr Young said yesterday.

But the Queensland Government has already announced that residents of the ACT will be permitted entry to Queensland (by air only) from this Friday.

When Queensland reopened its borders to all states and territories except Victoria following Australia’s first wave, there were still cases of community transmission in New South Wales.

NSW Health Department records show that in the weeks prior to the border opening on July 10, there were at least five cases of community transmission where the source of the infection was unknown.

« The Chief Health Officer [of NSW] was quite comfortable with what was happening, and I was quite comfortable with what was happening, » Dr Young said.

She argued that because NSW had relatively low case numbers, it gave authorities the opportunity to risk-assess every case.

« So that’s what I mean — we make decisions based on every single case, and what the ongoing risk to the community is from that case. »

There was also the Crossroads Hotel cluster, with the first two cases confirmed on July 10 and the infectious period traced back to July 3.

« NSW seems to be getting on top of their cases, although they still have some where there is reason to be concerned that people have been infectious in the community, » Mr Miles said.

He said there would be a « major review » of the border restrictions at the end of this month.

« What we would look at is whether the case is linked to a known cluster, whether the case was in quarantine, whether the case was community transmission but in quarantine — and they are different levels of risk of course, » Mr Miles said.

At the moment, authorities remain concerned about a taxi driver in Sydney who drove dozens of people while infectious with the virus.

This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.

AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)


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