“We are cautiously optimistic that the number of hospitalizations and infections has peaked.”
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said people would still be asked to wear a mask if they were unable to socially distance.
A total of 380 people were hospitalized with the virus statewide as of Tuesday, including 30 in intensive care and 11 on ventilators. More than 63% of those eligible for a booster shot received one, while 90.61% received their second dose.
Authorities began reporting the rollback of restrictions when the state appeared to surpass Omicron’s recent spike.
But Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said he expected a ‘secondary wave’ towards winter.
“How big will be, we don’t know,” he said on Tuesday. “There’s a good chance we’ll have to reintroduce mandatory mask-wearing at some point for a limited period.”
As a result, Ms D’Ath introduced a bill in parliament on Tuesday giving Dr Gerrard the ability to issue instructions, and the government the power to sanction those who fail to comply, for a further six months until October.
The move is one of the clearest signs yet that authorities are wary of a possible spike in cases during the winter months or due to new variants of the virus, which they have warned could still to be around the corner, despite the declaration of Omicron’s peak.
Legislative powers were last extended in September, before the state’s single major virus wave drove infections past 530,000 and claimed the lives of 456 people, half of them in elderly care.
The powers were due to expire under sunset clauses in several related pieces of legislation by the end of April.
The broader public health emergency declaration is also “very likely” to be extended beyond its current expiry date at the end of March, Ms D’Ath said.
The remaining restrictions after March 4 – including the vaccination location mandate and the requirements for isolation and quarantine – will be reviewed on a weekly basis to assess the impact of the reopening of international borders and the removal of the mandates. of mask.
“We believe, again based on health advice, that it would be irresponsible to lift all remaining restrictions at once,” Ms D’Ath said. “We need to see what trends are happening in particular over the next two to four weeks.”
Brisbane Mayor Adrian Schrinner welcomed the mask changes, saying people in Queensland and the capital had done the right thing.
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