Queensland has taken another huge leap to return to life as normal after Covid-19 with vaccine mandates for Hospitality and entertainment Venues scrapped as jab rates climb and authorities feel more at ease about the recent wave of the virus.
Vaccine mandates for Hospitality and entertainment Venues will be scrapped in a major win for businesses that have been hailed as the “final hurdle” in a return to normal.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the latest easing of Covid restrictions on Monday, saying the move would reunite Queenslanders as she conceded the mandates had hit businesses hard.
The chief health officer also declared Queensland had passed the Peak of the second wave of Covid cases that has recently gripped the state and forced thousands of health staff into isolation.
The Mandate shake up means that from next Thursday, staff and customers won’t have to be vaccinated when entering restaurants, cafes, pubs, casinos, theme parks, libraries, showgrounds, stadiums, and cinemas.
Ms Palaszczuk said the onus was now on individuals and families to ensure they were vaccinated, as she urged Queenslanders to get the jab if they hadn’t already.
The vaccine mandates will remain in place at Hospitals, schools, aged care centers, and prisons.
“It’s time to reunite Queensland,” the Premier said.
“The trigger point is our levels of vaccinations. As of Yesterday (Sunday), 90.5 per cent of Queenslanders 12 years and over have received at least two doses of the vaccine.
“The restrictions we had in place did their job: keeping our community safe and encouraging vaccinations.”
Ms Palaszczuk acknowledged the restrictions had taken a “heavy pen” on families and businesses.
Queensland recorded another 9946 Covid cases on Monday, while another eight people lost their lives with the virus and 479 patients were being treated in hospital.
Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said there was “clear evidence from multiple sources” that Queensland has passed the Peak of transmission in the latest Covid wave.
“Hospital Admissions we know will lag a bit, but I would expect it to be people in the hospital to start to fall sometime in the next seven days,” Dr Gerrard said.
“It is clearly because of the vaccination the impact of this virus on the Queensland community has been relatively mild.”
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Queensland’s Amanda Rohan said the announcement on the vaccine Mandate removal was essentially the “final hurdle” in returning businesses to normal operating conditions.
She said the move – which she described as a long overdue – would provide businesses with some long-term certainty and renewed confidence in their future.
“Across the state, businesses can restaff where they haven’t been able to employ staff who were unvaccinated status,” Ms Rohan said.
“This really should assist businesses in freeing their staff back up.”
Ms Rohan pointed to CCIQ’s latest survey that showed the majority of businesses were only at about 85 per cent of their operating capacity in revenues.
“So we do hope that this (the vaccine Mandate removal) will give that little final boost to get them back up to where they should be, while we’re still obviously looking at our tourism market to reactivate,” she said.
Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive Wes Lambert said the industry was “jumping up and down” with the excitement following the announcement.
“Ultimately mandates typically affected staff for Hospitality businesses that are already in a critical workforce shortage,” he said.
“Many staff will now be able to return for work that for several reasons had not been vaccinated.
“And this will also continue to remove fear a fear of going out as we learn to live with Covid.”
Nathan Schokker, president of the Queensland Junior Chamber of Commerce, said the vaccine Mandate removal would hopefully mean a return to normal.
“It’s going to take a lot of pressure off businesses, on the staff within those businesses that have had to go through the process of checking everyone that comes into their businesses,” he said.
“And hopefully it brings a little bit of cheer and a bit of confidence back to everyone as well.”
Infectious diseases expert Dr Paul Griffin said the vaccine rate meant there was a very high level of protection within the community.
“It just means there may be a little more responsibility on those people who do remain vulnerable to make sure they take appropriate steps to protect themselves,” he said.
Steve Edgar, general manager of the Coolangatta Surf Club, said his staff was “really pleased” to see the Mandate lift.
“It’s just taking away a lot of stress at the front door. Particularly because we’re so close to the border where there hasn’t been a Mandate in a while, we get a lot of confusion from people, ”they said.
While the surf club has fortunately remained busy with customers since the start of the year, having the Mandate lifted before Easter would mean extra hands back on the deck.
“We’ll also get back some quality staff. We lost about seven staff under the Mandate, and we’ll get back almost half of that so we’re really pleased to see it lifted. ”
Weddings have been one of Queensland’s most heavily affected industries with non-stop restrictions since March 2020.
For general manager of the Sunshine Coast wedding venue in Maleny Manors, Felicity Sharwood said seeing that the last restriction lifted was “exciting”.
“We sometimes felt like the bouncer at the door checking vaccination rates. It just alleviates that awkwardness of us having to check, ”she said.
Not only were wedding Venues now able to return to business as usual, lifting the Mandate would also see more revenue flow through.
“We’ve had customers not book because of the Mandate, so it’s definitely staggered the inquiry rate,” she said.
“It’s also going to help boost consumer confidence. It just means we can go back to doing what we do best. ”