Everything you need to know about Queensland’s international border reopening
Queensland airports have provided plenty of emotional footage during the past couple of months as families and friends reunite following the easing of domestic borders.
And, as Saturday morning dawns, there’ll be a whole new wave of tears and warm embraces.
The Sunshine State is mere hours away from welcoming international travellers directly for the first time since the pandemic slammed the borders shut two years ago.
From 1am on Saturday, fully vaccinated overseas arrivals will be able to land in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, and the Gold Coast without the need to quarantine, following in the footsteps of NSW and Victoria in November.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the move this week as the state edges closer to the 90 per cent double vaccination trigger.
She said it was important to provide certainty for the battered airline industry, and for international travellers to be able lock in their plans for the coming months.
“Everyone knows someone overseas and some haven’t seen each other for a couple of years, it’s time to reunite those families,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Wednesday.
“I know a lot of people have sons and daughters overseas or parents or brothers and sisters overseas – you can come into Queensland and you will no longer have to quarantine,” she said.
“You are free to come in.”
So what exactly are the new rules?
Fully vaccinated overseas arrivals
If you have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, you will be allowed to fly into Queensland airports without having to quarantine.
This change comes into effect at 1am on Saturday January 22.
Arrivals are, however, being asked to take a rapid antigen test within 24 hours of their landing.
This is more a precautionary measure and is not being strictly policed, with positive tests encouraged to isolate and contact health authorities.
Federal rules also state evidence is needed that a negative PCR test has been obtained within 72 hours of boarding the flight.
Vaccinated airline staff are already allowed to skip quarantine in Queensland, but are still required to undergo a rapid antigen test.
Unvaccinated overseas arrivals
If you are arriving from overseas and are not fully vaccinated, you will need to head into quarantine and meet existing testing requirements.
If you can’t quarantine at a home that meets Queensland Health criteria you will have to complete your isolation in a government-nominated facility.
Unvaccinated people in Queensland are not allowed to visit vulnerable settings such as aged care, hospitals or prisons, while hospitality venues, tourism experiences, festivals and cinemas are also off limits.
How bad is the Covid spread in Qld?
Queensland is still moving towards its peak Covid caseload, with infections hovering around 20,000 a day.
There were last 850 people in Queensland hospitals with Covid, and more than 90,000 active cases in the state.
The Gold Coast has been the epicentre of the Omicron spread and is expected to hit its Covid peak before other metro areas.
This is expected within the next fortnight or so, with 70 per cent of tests in the region coming back positive.
There have been 72 Covid deaths in the state as of Wednesday night, mostly elderly people and patients with significant underlying conditions.
What is going on with the Wellcamp facility at Toowoomba?
Deputy Premier Steven Miles announced on Thursday the Wellcamp quarantine facility at Toowoomba would soon be up and running, with 500 beds to become available in February to ease pressure on the state’s quarantine system.
State government announced the regional facility last August after striking a deal with the landowner, the Wagner Corporation, with Mr Miles declaring the project “incredible value for money, even as the state prepares to ease international travel rules.
The first 250-bed pod at Wellcamp will be used for travellers who need to quarantine, and the second is for Queenslanders whose accommodation is not suitable for isolation.
Originally published as Everything you need to know about Queensland’s international border reopening
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