"Queenslanders have achieved something quite incredible in containing the Indooroopilly Delta outbreak. I don't know of anywhere else in the world that have succeeded in this way, and as a reward for our efforts we're now able to ease some restrictions," says Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles.
Residents of Southeast Queensland (SEQ) will have more freedoms starting two days earlier than planned as the state records another day of zero community cases, with a few relaxataions of the rules starting from 4pm on Friday, 20 August.
This means that 30 people will be allowed to visit the home or gather in public places, wedding and funeral numbers will go up to 100, a capacity of 75 per cent will be allowed at indoor events and stadiums, and community sport will return on Sunday.
Masks will still be required in indoor settings but will no longer be required outside, however Queenslanders will need to have a mask on them at all times when leaving the home.
However, as border rules tighten to only allow essential, vaccinated workers to cross into the Sunshine State and the COVID-19 situation worsens in regional NSW, Queensland authorities will be taking further precautions by keeping density restrictions at venues in place for another week.
"We will review it at the end of the week if we can continue to get those zero cases so it's all contingent on what happens over the next week, but hopefully in a week's time we'll be able to stand here before you and say that there's going to be more capacity in our cafes and our restaurants and pubs," Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
"In Cairns and Yarrabah they'll go back to the restrictions for the rest of Queensland, but it's the 11 LGAs (local government areas) in SEQ where these restrictions for that additional week will apply.
"That's because of what's happening across our border in New South Wales is a real and present threat to Queensland, so we are monitoring it incredibly closely."
Authorities are now reviewing classifications of essential workers as "there are too many people crossing the border", according to the Premier.
"That means we want to put even tighter restrictions on our border. It only takes one person crossing the border with Delta, and we're into a lockdown. Now I don't want that. I know Queenslanders don't want that," she said.
Here's what you need to know about the easing of restrictions in some parts of Queensland from 4pm Friday 20 August pic.twitter.com/XeoAE7otTgAnnastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) August 18, 2021
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young described NSW's latest daily numbers of 633 community transmission cases as "extraordinarily sad" and very difficult for the state's southern neighbour.
"We already have that requirement that any of those very few essential workers who are going to be able to cross the border must have had at least one dose of vaccine by Friday," Dr Young said,
"We already had that in place, but we're now going through just to make sure that every single person coming across their border is genuinely necessary to the functioning of Queensland, because the NSW Premier has put in place stay-at-home requirements for everyone living in NSW. That's how concerned she is.
"We're seeing cases in Broken Hill, in Bourke, in Dubbo, in Walgett, in Yamba, in Ballina, in Byron Bay, we're just seeing them coming closer, so we have the next few days to really get that tightened up and sorted so that we minimise movements."
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D'Ath said South-East Queensland had done well to prevent a COVID-19 crisis.
"The Indooroopilly cluster has reached 144 cases but it could have been far worse had we not taken such swift, decisive action," Minister D'Ath said.
"Instead of introducing more drastic measures, we are able to resume community sport, allow more people at weddings and host more people at home - all because Queenslanders have responded so responsibly."
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said it would need to be proven over the coming week that the Delta virus can be contained south of the QLD-NSW border.
"If we can do that then we'll be able to return to a bit more normality here in Queensland," Miles said.
"Queenslanders have achieved something quite incredible in containing the Indooroopilly Delta outbreak. I don't know of anywhere else in the world that have succeeded in this way, and as a reward for our efforts we're now able to ease some restrictions.
"What we're saying to folks who might have saved up some coins during lockdown is now's a great time to get out and support our hospitality industry. This weekend or even Friday night, book a table at a local restaurant, a pub, a club, a café, get out and have a steak, maybe a beer or two."
Updated at 12:27pm AEST on 18 August 2021.
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