Queensland mandates jab for school workers

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has mandated vaccines for all school workers.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has mandated vaccines for all school workers.

Queensland will mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone aged over 16 who enters a school, childcare centre, prison or airport for work.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says teachers, guards, volunteers, cleaners, maintenance and other workers must have had one dose by December 17 and be fully vaccinated by January 23 to enter any "high-risk settings".

She says the measures are aimed at protecting children aged under 12 who aren't yet eligible for vaccines from the virus as the state eases restrictions later this year.

"We are taking the strong action to protect the vulnerable in Queensland," Ms Palaszczuk told parliament on Tuesday morning.

"If you can't be vaccinated, we want to make sure those around you are vaccinated. If you are in a high-risk group, we also want to make sure those around you are vaccinated."

Education Minister Grace Grace says the mandate will also apply to anyone over the age of 16 entering any school site, unless they have a medical exemption.

The mandate in schools was the same as in other states and territories, and will apply to public, independent and Catholic schools, she said.

"This action will ensure we keep our children and our education workforce safe and keep our schools and early education centres open," Ms Grace told parliament.

But there is concern the new requirement could mean a shortage of workers in rural and remote schools around the state.

Katter's Australia Party leader Robbie Katter fears "thousands" of staff would be lost as a result of the decision, and called for all governments to "respect individual choice when it comes to vaccines".

Queensland has already mandated vaccines for health and police services workers, with Police Minister Mark Ryan confirming more than 99 per cent of serving police officers are fully vaccinated and some are already getting boosters.

Mr Ryan says Surf Life Saving Queensland has also mandated that all volunteers and staff over the age of 16 must be fully vaccinated by March 2022.

The state government will also ban unvaccinated people from all venues in the state from December 17.

People who have not had the jab won't be allowed to work in or enter restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, theatres, cinemas, sports stadiums, galleries, museums or libraries from that date.

Figures show 86.46 per cent of Queenslanders have had one dose and 76.44 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Ms Palaszczuk also affirmed plans to scrap quarantine for vaccinated domestic arrivals once Queensland hits its 80 per cent vaccination target.

"Our plans to allow for guaranteed free interstate travel for fully vaccinated people have not been affected," she said.

"Queensland is in such a strong position because we still require 14-days hotel quarantine for international arrivals.

No new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the community on Tuesday, and there were two additional interstate-acquired cases in hotel quarantine.

Australian Associated Press