Travel restrictions for Queensland’s remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will ease further today (June 12), making it easier for residents to travel in and around their districts.
Stage 2 of the three-stage Roadmap to easing access restrictions for Queensland’s remote communities has commenced, where people living in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities — plus the Burke and Cook shires — can easily travel throughout ‘declared travel zones’ set by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer.
Designated communities now fall under the direction of the Chief Health Officer, rather than the emergency provisions of the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cwth) that were put in place by the Australian Government to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The restrictions aim to prevent outbreaks in remote communities, ensuring the safety of Elders and those with existing chronic health conditions who are at a greater risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19.
Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said the Queensland Government worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership including mayors in remote communities to develop the plan to safely ease restrictions in communities.
“The Queensland Government has listened to health experts, local leaders and community advocates and worked with the Federal Government to transition from federal emergency biosecurity restrictions to more flexible state-based arrangements under Queensland’s Chief Health Officer’s public health directions,” Mr Crawford said.
From today (12 June 2020) under Stage 2, residents can move freely through ‘declared travel zones’ that councils and local disaster management groups have negotiated with the Chief Health Officer.
Residents travelling within a ‘Declared Travel Zone’ do not need to go into quarantine when they return home.
The Chief Health Officer will then consider moving communities from 10 July 2020 to Stage 3, which removes all travel restrictions including entry and quarantine requirements and applies the same provisions as all Queenslanders under the Roadmap to Easing Restrictions.
The criteria for Stage 3 includes no confirmed COVID-19 cases in a community, an appropriate testing regime and clear rapid response framework in place for the community.
Mr Crawford said decisions about when to move to Stage 3 would be on the basis of health advice in consultation with local leadership.
“I would like to thank Queenslanders, particularly those living in remote communities, for their patience and we will continue to work closely with communities in the lead up to transitioning to Stage 3,” Mr Crawford said.
“The eased restrictions are for residents and their families, and tourists are not yet able to travel through these remote communities.
Member for Mareeba, Cynthia Lui said there have been zero confirmed COVID-19 cases in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities anywhere in the state and we are counting on Queenslanders to keep these communities COVID-free.
“Local leaders are aware their communities may need to revert to tighter restrictions if there is a COVID-19 outbreak — even a single case could have a devastating impact in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“The same health advice applies anywhere in Queensland to continue social distancing, stay home if unwell and get tested if you have any symptoms,” Ms Lui said.