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Queensland restrictions from 17 December 2021

From 17 December 2021, restrictions on businesses will be further eased. Many businesses and venues will be able to return to operating at full capacity.

However, there will be restrictions on people who are not fully vaccinated.

When we ease border restrictions, COVID-19 will start to circulate in our community. To ensure we don’t overwhelm our hospital system when we have outbreaks, some restrictions on unvaccinated people are necessary.

These changes will commence on 17 December 2021, regardless of when 80% of Queenslanders aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated.

Eased restrictions for businesses

From 17 December 2021, there will be no capacity restrictions on businesses that are only permitted to allow fully vaccinated people to attend, including:

  • hospitality venues such as hotels, pubs, clubs, taverns, bars, restaurants or cafes
  • indoor entertainment venues such as nightclubs, live music venues, karaoke bars, concerts, theatres or cinemas
  • outdoor entertainment activities such as sporting stadiums or theme parks
  • festivals – either indoor or outdoor – such as musical festivals, folk festivals or arts festivals
  • Queensland Government owned galleries, museums or libraries.

Weddings will have no capacity limit if only fully vaccinated people attend.

Restrictions for unvaccinated people

From 17 December 2021, unvaccinated people will be unable to:

  • visit vulnerable settings, including hospitals, residential aged care, disability accommodation services, and prisons. This does not apply to residents and patients of these facilities, and there will be some exceptions for medical treatment, end-of-life visits, childbirth and emergency situations
  • attend hospitality venues such as hotels, pubs, clubs, taverns, bars, restaurants or cafes
  • attend indoor entertainment venues such as nightclubs, live music venues, karaoke bars, concerts, theatres or cinemas
  • attend outdoor entertainment activities such as sporting stadiums, theme parks or tourism experience like reef excursions
  • attend festivals – either indoor or outdoor – such as musical festivals, folk festivals or arts festivals
  • attend Queensland Government owned galleries, museums or libraries.

If anyone attending a wedding is unvaccinated, it is restricted to a maximum of 20 people.

Funerals will not be limited to only vaccinated people. This is because funeral sometimes occur at short notice and often under difficult circumstances making it hard to ensure all attendees are vaccinated. However, funerals will still be required to comply with occupant density limits and caps on attendees to minimise the risk of transmission.

These restrictions target non-essential leisure activities which are not essential for people to meet their basic needs, but present a considerable risk to contributing to an outbreak in our community when our borders reopen.

Visitor restrictions to paediatric healthcare settings

There will be visitor restrictions for unvaccinated people in vulnerable facilities including hospitals and healthcare facilities.

These restrictions will not apply to:

  • patients
  • vaccinated parents, carers or guardians
  • families accessing emergency or end of life care for a child or young person.

No child or young person or their parent, carer or guardian will be denied access to care or treatment based on their vaccination status.

We recognise that children and young people generally present to hospital and other healthcare services with a parent, carer or guardian and will ensure that family support is continued in a COVID-safe way.

There will be some restrictions for unvaccinated parents, carers and guardians accompanying a child or young person to healthcare facilities. These include:

  • Only one unvaccinated parent, carer or guardian can accompany a child or young person to an appointment or admission.
  • An accompanying unvaccinated parent, carer or guardian must wear a single-use surgical face mask and will be required to limit their movements to areas where they can safely physically distance from others.
  • The unvaccinated accompanying parent, carer or guardian must have a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of entering the hospital for all admissions.

There may be situations that require special consideration which will be worked through on a case-by-case basis as required. This includes an exemption request for a second parent, carer or guardian to attend an appointment or admission.

There are no restrictions for unvaccinated siblings and other visitors under 16 years of age.

The safety of patients, families and staff is a priority, and ongoing infection control measures will ensure safe, timely and consistent access to healthcare for children and young people throughout the next stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Essential services and activities

Both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people will be able to access essential services and activities.

This means unvaccinated people will still be able to go to grocery stores, pharmacies, post offices, newsagents and clothing stores, and participate in activities like going to the gym for exercise.

Capacity restrictions may still be in place at these types of businesses.

People will still need to check-in to venues. This is important to support contact tracing if there is a case at a venue. Vaccinated people can still carry the virus, although the risk is reduced.

Proof of vaccination

Questions and answers about upcoming changes to restrictions in Queensland

What does ‘fully vaccinated’ mean?

For the purposes of Queensland’s Public Health Measures linked to vaccination status – a plan for 80% and beyond, a person is considered fully vaccinated when they have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine recognised by the Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA).

How will these mandates be given effect?

They will be brought into force by a Chief Health Officer public health direction.

Who do these restrictions apply to?

They apply to everyone in Queensland—residents and visitors—16 years of age and older, who is not fully vaccinated.

There will be a very small cohort of people who have genuine medical reasons for not being vaccinated.

Why is this necessary?

These measures are about keeping Queenslanders safe.

As we’ve done all the way through the pandemic, we’re taking a cautious and measured approach.

We’ve been saying for months now that there will be consequences for choosing not to be vaccinated – beyond the risk of serious illness and death if you contract COVID-19.

Getting vaccinated is not just about protecting yourself, it’s about protecting those around you.

There has been ample opportunity to be vaccinated. We understand that everyone needs to make their own decision, but the vaccine is safe, effective and free—and it’s easy and convenient to access in Queensland.

What services and activities are going to be restricted for unvaccinated people, and why?

These restrictions target non-essential leisure activities, including attending:

  • hospitality venues such as hotels, pubs, clubs, taverns, bars, restaurants or cafes
  • indoor entertainment venues such as nightclubs, live music venues, karaoke bars, concerts, theatres or cinemas
  • outdoor entertainment activities such as sporting stadiums, theme parks or tourism experience like reef excursions
  • festivals – either indoor or outdoor – such as musical festivals, folk festivals or arts festivals
  • Queensland Government owned galleries, museums or libraries.

These activities are not essential for people to meet their basic needs, but present a considerable risk to contributing to an outbreak in our community when our borders reopen.

Unvaccinated people also won’t be able to visit vulnerable settings, including hospitals, residential aged care, disability care accommodation, and prisons. There will be some exceptions for medical treatment, end-of-life visits, childbirth and emergency situations.

Will unvaccinated people still be able to access essential services?

Yes. Unvaccinated people will be able to access essential services and activities.

This includes going to grocery stores, pharmacies, post offices, newsagents and clothing stores, and being able to participate in activities like going to the gym for exercise.

Capacity restrictions may still be in place at these types of businesses.

Are you penalising unvaccinated people?

No. This isn’t about penalising unvaccinated people.

This is the best way to make sure we can open our borders, not overwhelm our hospital system, and not penalise vaccinated people for the choices of others to remain unvaccinated – all at the same time.

We do need to acknowledge that Queenslanders have had every opportunity to be vaccinated by now.

What we’re doing here is by no means unique to Queensland. New South Wales and Victoria both have quite strict restrictions on what unvaccinated people can do as well.

When will the restrictions for unvaccinated people start?

These restrictions are scheduled to start on 17 December 2021 regardless of how early Queensland may hit the 80% double dose vaccination rate. This provides important certainty so businesses and staff can plan accordingly.

Make vaccination your priority today. You can walk into any of our clinics and get vaccinated.

How have you chosen the venues and activities that will be restricted to unvaccinated people?

They’re all venues or activities where there is a higher risk of transmission, where there are people at higher risk if they contract COVID-19, or settings where contact tracing can be difficult.

Do I need to show my vaccination status when entering a business?

Yes. The owner or staff of a non-essential business (i.e. one to which restrictions for unvaccinated persons applies) may ask to see your vaccination status. The onus will be on the person entering to show proof of their vaccination status.

We ask that everyone respects the staff at businesses. If they ask to verify your vaccination status, they are only doing their job and taking reasonable steps to enforce the restrictions.

For more information see:

Do these restrictions apply to both staff and patrons?

Yes. Both staff and patrons must be fully vaccinated to work in or visit any of the venues where restrictions will be in place.

Will I still need to check-in at venues?

Yes, you will still need to use the Check-In Qld app at these venues.

It is important for our Public Health officials to still be able to make contact with people who may have been at an exposure site, and the Check-In Qld app is the quickest and easiest way to do this.

What can I use to show proof that I’m vaccinated?

The easiest way to do this is to use the Check In Qld app, by linking your COVID-19 digital vaccination certificate to the app. Make sure you upgrade to the latest version of the app.

Alternatively, you can access your COVID-19 digital vaccination certificate through the Medicare app, from your Medicare-linked MyGov account, or My Health Record.

You can also use a printed copy of your COVID-19 digital vaccination certificate, your immunisation history statement, or your international COVID-19 vaccination certificate.

For more information see How to get proof of COVID-19 vaccination. If you need help accessing these documents, you can contact your vaccination provider or the Australian Immunisation Register.

Does it count if I’ve only had one dose of vaccine?

No. You must have had two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

Can I be vaccinated with any vaccine internationally?

You must have received two doses of a vaccine that is recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). These vaccines have been rigorously assessed for safety, quality and effectiveness.

Vaccines recognised by the TGA, including international vaccines not registered in Australia, are listed on the TGA website.

Can I still visit a residential aged care facility if I am unvaccinated?

Only in very limited circumstances, such as for an end-of-life visit.

What if I can’t get a vaccination for medical reasons? Can I still attend some of these restricted venues and activities?

There are a very small number of people who have genuine medical reasons for not being vaccinated.

We are currently working through the details of the arrangements that will apply in those circumstances, including what special arrangements would need to be made to accommodate these people in in specific settings (i.e. cafes, vulnerable settings).

You will need to be able to show proof of your exemption from vaccination on genuine medical grounds. We are doing further work on how this will operate.

Can I take my unvaccinated children to a restaurant or a stadium?

We encourage every person 12 years of age or older to get the vaccine.

If your child is less than 16 years of age, yes. These restrictions only apply to those aged 16 and over.

What if I’m not vaccinated – can I use a negative test instead?

No. These measures are about people being vaccinated, to ensure their safety and the safety of others.

Will things change if there is an outbreak?

We expect some localised restrictions may still be required if there’s an outbreak.

But vaccination coverage in the area will be a big factor in what restrictions need to be imposed in the event of an outbreak.

Further lockdowns and restrictions are not the future we want for Queensland—so the message remains clear, get vaccinated now.

If I am unvaccinated, can I still get groceries?

Yes. Unvaccinated people will still be able to access essential services such as grocery stores.

If I am unvaccinated, can I still go to a food court?

Yes. Unvaccinated people can go to a food court.

If I am unvaccinated, can I still go to a shopping centre?

Yes. People who are unvaccinated can go into a shopping centre. However, if there’s a restricted venue inside the shopping centre, such as a cafe and cinema, it is still restricted to fully vaccinated people only.

If I’m unvaccinated, can I go into a bottle shop?

Yes. Bottle shops are considered retail, rather than a hospitality venue.

If I’m unvaccinated, can I attend a Christmas Carols or New Year’s fireworks events?

Yes. Unticketed, outdoor, community events (e.g. movie in the park, carols in the park, new year fireworks on the beach) are not in scope for the rules around events and entertainment.

If I’m unvaccinated, can I attend a farmer’s market?

Yes, you can attend farmers, craft, Christmas and other community based markets.

If I am unvaccinated, can I go to a fast food (quick service) restaurant?

Yes. Unvaccinated people can enter, and order take away. Unvaccinated people can also use drive-through. Only fully vaccinated people can dine-in.

If I am unvaccinated, can I stay at a hotel for accommodation purposes?

Yes. Unvaccinated people can stay in hotels for accommodation purposes, for work or leisure.

However, if there is a pub, restaurant or nightclub within the hotel, only fully vaccinated people can go into those parts of the hotel.

If I am unvaccinated, can I go into a local government facility such as a library or community hall?

We are currently working with local governments to establish what restrictions may need to be placed on local government facilities.

Private hire of venues, if occurring with unvaccinated people, can have a maximum of 20 people or 1 per 4 square metres.

If I am unvaccinated, can I go into a restaurant attached to a sporting club?

No. If a club has both sporting facilities and restaurant/bar facilities, unvaccinated people can only access the sporting or exercise facilities. For example, if an unvaccinated person attends a golf club, they can play a round of golf, but not enter the clubhouse for a meal.

Clubs and other venues can also self-impose rules. For example, a golf club may also choose to deny an unvaccinated person admission to play golf.

If I’m vaccinated, do I still need to wear a mask?

Currently, mask wearing rules are not tied to vaccination status.

You’ll need to follow the mask wearing rules as they are relevant to your local area at any given time.

Everyone is encouraged to wear a mask in crowded spaces or where physical distancing is not possible.

What happens after 90% vaccination / when will life be entirely back to pre-pandemic times?

Vaccination is our pathway out of this pandemic. Once very high vaccination rates are achieved, it’s expected that minimal restrictions will be required.

COVID-19 will become endemic – that means having settled to a relatively constant rate of occurrence. With all infectious diseases that are endemic, like the flu, there may be a need for localised public health measures, so it doesn’t evolve into a pandemic again.

Visitor restrictions to paediatric healthcare settings

What happens if a child has been admitted and a vaccinated parent, carer or guardian staying with them has to swap with an unvaccinated parent, carer or guardian?

The unvaccinated parent, carer or guardian will be able to enter the hospital if they wear a single-use surgical face mask at all times, limit their movements to areas where they can safely physically distance from others, and undergo a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of entering the hospital. A COVID-19 test will be required each time an unvaccinated parent, carer or guardian swaps with a vaccinated parent, carer or guardian.

Can unvaccinated siblings attend their brother or sister’s appointment or visit them in hospital with an accompanying parent, carer or guardian?

Yes, if they are under 16 years of age.

The visitor restrictions do not apply to children under 16 years of age.

Can an unvaccinated parent, carer or guardian use communal areas of a hospital or facility such as a family lounge, kitchen or cafeteria?

No. Unvaccinated parents, carers or guardians must limit their movements and avoid situations where they cannot maintain a safe physical distance from other patients.

Can an unvaccinated parent, carer or guardian attend a group therapy program or participate in group activities with their child or young person?

No. Unvaccinated parents, carers or guardians must limit their movements and avoid situations where they cannot maintain a safe physical distance from other patients, visitors or staff.

Can an unvaccinated parent, carer or guardian participate in family therapy sessions?

Yes. Unvaccinated parents, carers and guardians from the same household can participate in family therapy sessions as therapy sessions are treatment and therefore excluded from the visitor restrictions.

Questions about business and industry

Can unvaccinated service providers or contractors go into a restricted business?

Unvaccinated service providers, that provide a contactless service, can do so for a restricted business. For example, an unvaccinated delivery driver can pick up food from a restaurant and then make a contactless delivery.

Service providers must be fully vaccinated if they need to conduct work inside a restricted business premises. For example, a security guard must be fully vaccinated to work at a pub or nightclub.

There are exceptions for emergency maintenance work. For example, an unvaccinated plumber could enter a restricted business to fix a burst pipe.

I am the owner of a non-essential business (i.e. one to which restrictions for unvaccinated persons applies). How can I enforce these restrictions?

You need to take reasonable steps to enforce these restrictions.

This means:

  • display the vaccination rules at your business premises
  • ask for evidence of vaccination from your customers at the time of check-in
  • if a customer cannot or refuses to provide evidence, ask the person to leave the premises
  • if the person refuses to the leave the premises, call the police.

The onus will be on the person entering to show proof of their vaccination status.

We don’t expect business owners or staff to be the police. If there are customers refusing to comply, call the police.

Penalties for people refusing to comply are $1378.50 for an individual.

Do staff under the age of 16 need to be vaccinated to work in non-essential leisure businesses from December 17 2021?

No, the restrictions do not apply to people aged under 16. However, vaccination is strongly encouraged to ensure the person is protecting themselves, their colleagues and their customers.

Can the owner of an essential business decide not to permit entry to unvaccinated patrons or staff?

Essential businesses can self-impose rules for patrons and can decide to refuse entry to unvaccinated patrons.

In relation to staff, business owners are encouraged to seek their own legal advice.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has released detailed advice for employers about mandating vaccination of workers. This information can be found at Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws

Will support be provided to businesses to introduce extra security and safety measures to protect staff from abusive customers?

The Queensland Government will continue to work closely with stakeholders to ensure workers are protected and will provide support where needed.

Work is underway to provide access to online training resources for staff of non-essential leisure businesses to help them manage entry of patrons including checking of vaccination status.

Aggressive and abusive behaviour of business owners or staff will not be tolerated. Contact the Queensland Police Service if you, your staff or your business is threatened.

Can non-essential leisure businesses opt to continue with density restrictions and stay open for unvaccinated staff and customers?

No.

Non-essential leisure businesses need to take reasonable steps to follow the public health measures as the activity of these businesses presents a higher risk of contributing to an outbreak in our community.

If a business chooses not to follow the public health measures penalties may apply.

Fair Work states that employers cannot ask/force employees to vaccinate. What remedial action can employers take if employees refuse to vaccinate?

The Fair Work Ombudsman has released detailed advice for employers about mandating vaccination of workers. This information can be found at Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws

Business owners are encouraged to seek their own legal advice.

How are catered events affected by the new vaccination requirements?

Private events that only permit vaccinated people can go ahead with no restrictions.

Private events, if occurring with unvaccinated people, can have a maximum of 20 people or 1 per 4 square metres.

Who is to take responsibility for unvaccinated guests at an offsite event? For example, the event organiser, bride, caterer?

If anyone attending a wedding is unvaccinated, it is restricted to a maximum of 20 people.

The owner of the venue will need to take reasonable steps to enforce these restrictions.

When will the public health direction be available?

The public health direction is being finalised. In the interim, information about these restrictions is also available from Public Health and Social Measures linked to vaccination status – a plan for 80% and beyond

Will business be shut down if they are exposure sites? Will close contacts still have to quarantine for 14 days?

When a contact tracing alert is issued, a venue may have to close for cleaning, and some staff may need to quarantine, but once that cleaning is complete they are able to re-open. A Public Health Unit will undertake a risk assessment to determine what level of local response is required.

If a business is open and trading it is safe to visit.

Is it compulsory to be vaccinated in Queensland if I want to work as a chef?

The new public health measures apply to both staff and patrons at any of the venues where restrictions will be in place.

If you work as a chef in a non-essential leisure business such as a hotel, pub, club, tavern, bar, restaurant or café, or indoor or outdoor entertainment venue or a Queensland Government owned gallery or museum you must be vaccinated.

Chefs who work in hospitals, residential aged care, disability care accommodation, and prisons must also be vaccinated.

Do the new measures apply to resorts and hotels?

Unvaccinated people can stay in hotels or resorts for accommodation purposes.

However, if there is a pub, restaurant or nightclub within the hotel or resort, only fully vaccinated people can go into these areas.

Will gyms (and yoga studios) be required to ensure members are vaccinated?

Gyms and fitness services can continue to provide services to customers who are unvaccinated.

However, these businesses are strongly encouraged to continue to ensure patrons have checked in using the Check In App, adhere to density restrictions and maintain high personal hygiene standards to protect both staff and patrons.

Is the mandatory requirement for staff to be fully vaccinated by 17 December 2021?

Staff who work in businesses delivering non-essential leisure services must be fully vaccinated by 17 December.

If a staff member has had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine they will not be able to return to work until they have had their second dose.