Queensland expands indoor mask mandate

·3-min read

Masks must be worn indoors across Queensland after COVID-19 infections in the state continued to move in an "upward trend" despite fewer cases being reported.

From 1am on Sunday, masks must be worn in "virtually all indoor spaces".

Deputy Premier Steven Miles on Saturday said Queensland had 2266 new COVID-19 cases, down from 3118 the previous day.

However, the lower numbers are due to a change in reporting protocols with the latest case figures taken from a 12-hour period - not the usual 24 hours - from 7am to 7pm on Friday.

Cases will again be reported over a 24-hour period from 7pm on Saturday.

"Reporting numbers from the evening before will allow us to provide more detailed and accurate information ... now that we are dealing with a much larger number of cases," Mr Miles said.

"For comparison the evening before we had 1613 cases for that 12-hour period, the evening before that 1178, so even though the numbers we are reporting today is lower than what we are used to, it does represent a continuing upward trend."

It prompted Chief Health Officer John Gerrard to recommend a mask mandate expansion.

"We felt it was time. People have been wanting this and expecting this," Dr Gerrard said.

Previously masks were only required indoors at supermarkets, shops, on public transport and ride share as well as airports and planes, cinemas and theatres in Queensland.

From Sunday they will also be required at workplaces unless unsafe to do so, pubs, clubs and cafes unless when seated, indoor stadiums and sport arenas, libraries, hair dressers and nail salons and medical centre waiting areas.

Queenslanders were also urged to return to work-from-home arrangements where possible.

"Virtually all indoor spaces except when eating and drinking and when undertaking strenuous activity will now require masks," Mr Miles said.

There were 34,938 tests in the last 24 hours with 16125 total cases in the state, including 13,958 active.

There are 149 cases in hospital with only one patient - a man in his 50s - in intensive care.

Dr Gerrard said the health system was coping despite 285 hospital and health service employees with COVID-19 and 783 in quarantine but would "come under strain" when case numbers inevitably increase.

However, Queensland GPs have called for more resources and better communication.

"GPs need clarity on how the changed definition of a close contact affects health care workers who knowingly come into contact with COVID-positive patients," the Queensland GP Alliance said.

"Queensland GPs have also been advised that Commonwealth vaccines ordered by today may not arrive until January 14.

"The vaccine rollout for 5-11 year olds is scheduled to begin on January 10 ...(so) many GPs are not taking bookings for children's vaccinations until their supplies arrive."

Overall 90.6 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had one vaccine dose and 86.6 per cent are double jabbed.

Meanwhile, Dr Gerrard said 35 cases were connected to Cherbourg after the Aboriginal community north-west of Brisbane detected their first ever infection on Wednesday.

Rapid antigen tests (RAT) are being sent to the community which has a 68 per cent first-dose rate with 57 per cent double-jabbed.

And from Saturday, travellers with a negative PCR or RAT test will be allowed to cross the Queensland border.

They will still need to complete a border declaration confirming they have completed a negative test with heavy fines for those caught making false declarations.

Queensland Police said two men who had tried to enter the state with fake PCR test results at Brisbane airport on Friday had each been fined $4135.

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