Public Health Direction behind 17 December 2021 restrictions finally released

Yesterday, the Queensland Government released the ‘Public Health and Social Measures linked to vaccination status Direction’ (‘Direction’) which will be effective from 5am (AEST) Friday, 17 December 2021.  This is the direction that underpins the Queensland Government’s announcement of restrictions for unvaccinated persons on 9 November 2021.

A link to the Direction can be found here.

The Direction confirms that from 17 December 2021, unvaccinated persons will not be able to attend particular venues, including:

  • Hospitality venues (as defined in the Direction);
  • Indoor entertainment venues (as defined);
  • Outdoor entertainment activities (as defined);
  • Festivals (as defined);
  • Government owned Galleries, Museums and Libraries (as defined); and
  • Prison and youth detention centres (as defined).

The most significant takeaway from the Direction appears to be that where a person is able to provide the necessary evidence of a medical contraindication, they will effectively be treated the same as if they were vaccinated (and so will be able to enter relevant premises).  This is a departure from the stricter restrictions imposed on unvaccinated persons in other health directions.

It is also relevant to note that from 17 December 2021, affected businesses must:

  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that staff and visitors aged 16 years and over comply with vaccination entry requirements;
  • Clearly display vaccination entry requirements;
  • Request and sight proof of COVID-19 vaccination (or evidence of medical contraindication);
  • Clearly display the Check in Qld app;
  • Request staff and visitors to provide contact information (through the Check in Qld app);
  • Sight and keep record of their own and each staff member’s vaccination status (proof of COVID-19 vaccination or evidence of medical contraindication);
  • Ensure unvaccinated staff are not permitted to enter, work in or provide services (this excludes staff with evidence of medical contraindication);
  • Comply with density limits (where applicable); and
  • Operate in accordance with a COVID-19 Checklist or COVID safe site plan (as required).

(Note.  This is not an exhaustive list of obligations under the Direction.)

The Direction also outlines requirements for non-restricted businesses, activities and undertakings and venues where unvaccinated persons are permitted, subject to certain requirements (such as compliance with density limits; the collection of contact information and COVID Safe Checklist).

Importantly for employers, the Direction requires that staff who enter, work in or provide services at a business, activity or undertaking where vaccination is a requirement of entry (or affects occupant density requirements) must, before starting their next shift on or after 17 December 2021, provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or of a medical contraindication to their employer.

The Direction provides for a number of other restrictions that businesses must consider and comply with.  A person who fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with the Direction may be fined $13,785 or be imprisoned up to 6 months.

Aitken Legal recommends that employers review the Direction carefully and seek proper legal advice where they are unsure as to their obligations under the Direction.

Disclaimer: The information contained this article is general and intended as a guide only. Professional advice should be sought before applying any of the information to particular circumstances. While every reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this update, Aitken Legal does not accept liability for any errors it may contain. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.