What it will take for Qld’s COVID restrictions to be lifted?
THE Queensland Government will consider easing strict COVID-19 restrictions if the state continues recording low numbers of cases in coming weeks.
In an extraordinary development yesterday, zero cases were recorded in Queensland for the first time in 42 days.
This comes after just nine cases were reported on Saturday and five on Sunday.
The positive news was hailed by authorities, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk congratulating Queenslanders on a "tremendous effort".
"If we can keep this up over the coming weeks, I'm sure that that's going to mean that we'll be able to make some changes and ease some of those restrictions on the population," she said.
Queensland's low numbers make the Sunshine State comparable to New Zealand, which the Grattan Institute recently claimed was the envy of the world.
New Zealand, with a similar population to Queensland, has recorded about 1440 cases and 12 deaths. As of yesterday, Queensland had recorded 1019 cases and six deaths.
A spokesman for the Premier said New Zealand had reacted quickly and responsibly, but the country still had about 400 more confirmed cases and double the deaths.
Health Minister Steven Miles said 20 people were being treated in hospitals with seven in intensive care units, on ventilators in the state's southeast.
Meanwhile, Surfers Paradise, Coolangatta and part of the Spit have been reopened to the public after being closed for more than two weeks.
However there are some restrictions on The Spit, and beachside car parks will remain closed to discourage travellers.
Ms Palaszczuk said the Government wanted to see the low figures continue.
"I'm overjoyed today that we've seen this result," she said.
She said nationally the Government was looking at what restrictions could be lifted, recognising that some states would be able to ease measures before others.
"This is the first day of zero, but if we saw a trend of these really low numbers, I think it's only right that people would be saying to government, 'What can you do to make our lives a little bit easier and a little bit less restricted?'," she said.
The Premier said she didn't want to pre-empt what restrictions that may be lifted first.
"I am so encouraged, Queensland is definitely flattening the curve, absolutely, definitely," she said.
Praising residents, Mr Miles said this was exactly where authorities hoped Queensland could get to.
But he cautioned the state's strict approach was still needed.
"But if we can sustain this than the end is in sight," he said.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said it was excellent news.
"So that means that all of the strategies that are in place are working and more importantly than that, Queenslanders have heard the message and are following it," she said.
"Unfortunately they'll need to continue to follow them for a while still to come.
"We know that if we were to significantly release any of those restrictions that we would probably end up like some other countries have."
Mr Miles said the main reason Queensland was doing so well was because people were adhering to restrictions.
"Queenslanders have done the right thing, staying home, protecting their communities and helping one another," he said.
"Of our confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, a very small number are in intensive care units in our hospitals.
"That, along with Queensland's very low transmission rate makes Queensland the envy of the world when it comes to COVID-19 responses."
Mr Miles said more than 2000 tests were being undertaken every day since the testing criteria was expanded.
"Because of our efforts, there might be a peak in six months, it could even be later," he said.
For Surfers Paradise local Tatiana Reyes, the reopening of the beaches would mean she could begin to enjoy exercising again.
"When they closed the beach the footpath became more crowded and there was not much space to exercise," she said.
After falling in love with Gold Coast beaches on her trip to study English in Australia, the 24-year-old made the move from Columbia four years ago.
"The lifestyle here is much better, I like to go for a run or sunbake and would love to learn to surf," she said
While mostly staying home throughout the pandemic, Ms Reyes could not help but make the 10 minute walk from her house to the Surfers Paradise beach as soon as it reopened.
"I'm happy because we can enjoy it now, it's much better for everyone because everyone wants to swim and enjoy the beach."
Originally published as What it will take for Qld's COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted