Queensland will begin to shift its reliance on health orders to manage its COVID-19 response and drop vaccine requirements for staff in private healthcare settings, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath has announced.
Speaking in parliament on Thursday, D’Ath said now the state’s third – and largest – wave had subsided after a peak of 1123 people in hospitals with the virus on July 26, it was time to shift the government’s response.
The changes come after national cabinet agreed to reduce the virus isolation period to five days for those without symptoms from September 9, along with an end to mask mandates on domestic flights.
“Given that we will be living with this virus for years to come, we need to transition away from managing via Chief Health Officer public health directions unless it is absolutely necessary,” D’Ath said.
In light of this, D’Ath said Chief Health Officer John Gerrard had told her he intended to revoke elements of the health care worker vaccine direction from Friday covering workers in private hospitals and other non-government settings such as GP clinics.
“Whether vaccination is required for these individuals is now a matter for individual employers as part of normal workplace health and safety obligations,” she said. “This revocation will not impact Queensland Health facilities.”
Noting the national cabinet endorsed changes, which have been questioned by the Australian Medical Association, D’Ath said these reflected the “changing approach to managing the pandemic”.
“This changing environment is recognised here in Queensland. I can advise the House that today I will be introducing a bill that will adjust Queensland’s pandemic management approach post 31 October.”