As COVID-19 hospitalisation rates continue to decline in Queensland, the state's government has decided to remove mask mandates from 6pm on 4 March in all indoor areas except vulnerable settings and public transport.
The announcement comes after the state recorded 5,583 new cases overnight; a figure that represents a daily increase of more than 1,400, although Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard believes this is partly due to the wider availability of rapid antigen tests (RATs).
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath noted today's announcement comes on the anniversary of Queensland's first COVID-19 vaccination on the Gold Coast at the Gold Coast University Hospital.
"Queensland has done such a great job of managing this virus for over two years now, and particularly the wave of Omicron that we've faced since we started opening the borders last year," she said.
"We believe that we can now make that decision that we can lift these measures, both in our schools and our communities at the same time.
"That will mean that mask will not have to be worn indoors in schools, shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants, shopping centers - that includes staff and patrons, but we still will require masks to be worn in vulnerable settings, so in hospitals, disability aged care settings, in corrective facilities and youth detention, and in high-risk settings such as public transport, in airports, and on planes."
D'Ath urged people to carry masks with them in situations where they believe they might find themselves in crowded areas where they can't socially distance.
"Anyone can wear masks anytime, anywhere, and as a community I hope that we respect the right of people to still wear masks, even though the mandate has been lifted," she said.
"We also reserve the powers to implement the mask wearing again if we see a significant spike, and that includes as we go into our flu season.
"We are lifting density limits in relation to funerals, and there'll be no limits in the number of people who can gather in your homes as well."
The announcement coincides with a lifting of restrictions for schools, and according to the health minister means school excursions and assemblies can start again, as well as school visits and parent-teacher interviews.
"Our schools will continue to have rapid induction tests available for students or staff who become unwell during the day and need to be tested," D'Ath said.
"Of course, all the other COVID-Safe measures as far as cleaning, workforce planning, good hygiene will continue to be operational at our schools."
Updated at 2:23pm AEST on 22 February 2022.
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