Queensland's borders to stay closed until 90 per cent vaccination rate

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Queensland is set to follow in Western Australia‘s footsteps by refusing to open its borders until Australia hits a 90 per cent double-dose Covid vaccination rate. 

Annastacia Palasczczuk has become the second premier, after Mark McGowan, who has refused to sign up to the national cabinet plan to reopen state borders once 80 per cent of Australia’s population is fully vaccinated.

It is understood Cabinet will support the 90 per cent threshold after the two state leaders rejected the deal, the Courier Mail reports. 

Under the federal government’s four-phase plan, Covid restrictions will be relaxed once 70 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, a milestone expected to be hit by November 2. 

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By December 5, when the Covid vaccination rate is forecast to reach 80 per cent, state border restrictions will be eased to allow interstate travel for vaccinated Australians. 

But the national plan is in jeopardy as the premiers of Queensland and WA remain reluctant to shift from their hard border stance while case numbers in other states remain high.

Ms Palaszczuk and Mr McGowan have both disputed the accuracy of the Doherty Institute’s modelling used to devise the national recovery plan and called for further research.

They both argued the initial findings were based on small daily case numbers, and do not reflect the implications of borders reopening while some states, such as Victoria and NSW, continue to grapple with a large number of cases.  

The Doherty Institute was asked to undertake additional ‘sensitivity analyses’ of the scenarios presented in its initial report.

It was asked to test the robustness of the recommendation to transition to Phases B and C of the national plan at 70 and 80 per cent vaccination coverage if COVID-19 infection was already established in the community. 

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‘These findings confirm our earlier strategic advice that even high levels of vaccination will not be sufficient to stop COVID-19 in its tracks,’ the institute said in a statement.  

Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has released his long -awaited road map out of lockdown as the state recorded 507 new cases and another death, bringing its toll from the latest outbreak to 11.

The road map includes scrapping the nightly curfew once 70 per cent of Victorians are fully vaccinated.

But substantial changes will not be made until 80 per cent of people are immunised, which is forecast to occur around November 5.

‘We are opening up, no doubt about that, and there will be no turning back,’ Mr Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.

‘If you care about nurses, doctors, ambos, cooks and cleaners, everyone in our health system, if they’re important to you, then get vaccinated.’

NSW reported 1083 new virus cases on Sunday and 13 deaths, bringing its toll to 231 since its Delta variant outbreak began on June 16.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced recreation rules will be relaxed for 12 LGAs from Monday and they’ll enjoy extra freedoms, a week after they were granted to the rest of the state.

These include fully vaccinated adults being able to exercise outdoors with no time limits and gather in groups of five for outdoor recreation within five kilometres from home.

But the premier warned the state is still in a ‘precarious’ situation and case numbers will increase when it reopens at the 70 per cent double vaccination target.

‘We are anticipating our worst weeks in ICU and hospitals will be in October,’ she said.

The ACT, the third jurisdiction currently under lockdown, reported 17 new virus cases.

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