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Gold Coast Council to mandate COVID vaccines for workers

Gold Coast City Council workers have been informed they have until February 15 next year to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Council announced the proposed vaccination mandate on Thursday, just days after the State Government made the jab mandatory for workers in education, early childhood, corrections, youth justice and airport settings.

City of Gold Coast says the policy position will now be subject to consultation with unions and staff for the next month or so.

The adoption of the policy will then be considered in mid-January based on consideration of the feedback received.

Acting CEO Joe McCabe said the city was required by Queensland’s health and safety laws to ensure the health and safety of its workers, as well as all other members of the community.

“As we know, COVID-19 can be a very serious illness, especially for the vulnerable people in the community,” Mr McCabe said.

“There is no doubt that staff will be at real risk of exposure due to the nature of the work they perform.”

As the borders reopen, Mr McCabe said it was vital that Council’s 4000-strong workforce was protected by being fully vaccinated.

“Vaccination is an important step to help our staff and the broader community to reduce the risk of COVID-19,” he said.

“Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is one of the best ways to protect us from getting very sick or dying and vaccines have also been shown to help reduce the virus spreading.”

Mr McCabe said the City would provide unvaccinated staff with “encouragement” and “every opportunity to get vaccinated by the proposed date of 15 February by offering paid leave and convenient pop-up clinics”.

Staff and unions have been notified of the proposal, with consultation now underway.

Qld could hit 80 per cent vaccine milestone by next week

There’s hope Queensland could hit the much-anticipated 80 per cent double dose target by the end of next week, potentially triggering an early reopening of the border.

The Sunshine State is scheduled to swing open its borders on December 17, however, the Premier has previously indicated the reopening could come sooner if the vaccine target is reached earlier.

According to Queensland’s latest vaccination figures, 86.65 per cent of eligible residents aged over 16 have had at least one dose, while 76.80 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Judging by the numbers, there are now around 131,000 second doses to go before we hit the magical 80 per cent mark.

Currently, there’s around 13,470 second doses being administered on average a day, meaning Queensland is on track to hit the milestone by the end of next week.

There were fears the emergence of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant would derail Queensland’s reopening plans, but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today reaffirmed her commitment to reopening by December 17 at the latest.

It comes after leaders were briefed by health officials at National Cabinet overnight, with states and territories agreeing to not make any changes while more information is gathered on the new variant.

“I’m happy to take the advice of Professor Paul Kelly that more work will be conducted over the next 14 days,” Ms Palaszczuk told State Parliament.

“Queensland’s cautious approach is the right approach… Our cautious border settings have already put us in a good position.

“No changes have been made to our roadmap… Queensland will continue to monitor developments and listen to the expert advice.”

Queensland recorded two new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, but authorities are not concerned.

One was acquired overseas, while the other was acquired interstate.

Both cases are in hotel quarantine so do not pose a risk to the community.

Qld’s vaccine mandate extended to all teachers, childcare workers

The Queensland Premier has announced the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate will soon apply to teachers and childcare workers.

All staff at schools, childcare centres, correctional and youth detention facilities and airports have been included in the “high risk” category.

It means they will need to have at least one dose of a vaccine by December 17 and be fully vaccinated by January 23, 2022.

Annastacia Palaszczuk told state parliament on Tuesday, extending the mandate to school staff was a necessary step.

“We are taking this strong action to protect vulnerable Queenslanders,” she said.

“It is action that is consistent with other states and territories such as New South Wales and Victoria.

“If you can’t be vaccinated we want to make sure those around you are vaccinated.

“We know that children under 12 cannot access the vaccination.

“We want to do everything we can to protect these young people.”

Education Minister Grace Grace said the move would help to keep schools open throughout 2022.

“We take the health of children in our care very seriously indeed,” Ms Grace told parliament.

“We have a responsibility to protect the more than 500,000 children under 12 in Queensland schools and even more in early childhood centres that can’t yet get vaccinated and we have a responsibility to parents and carers who want to know their children and in a safe environment.

“This afternoon, I will be briefing key stakeholders on the announcement including professional associations, unions and representatives from the independent, Catholic and early childhood sectors.

“This action will ensure we keep our children and our education workforce safe and keep our schools and early education centres open.”

Meantime, the Premier insists the plan to reopen the borders on December 17 remains on track despite the new “unknown enemy” that is the Omicron variant.

“Our plans to allow quarantine-free interstate travel for fully vaccinated people have not been affected,” she said.

“Queensland is in such a strong position because we still require 14 days hotel quarantine for international arrivals.

“Our cautious and measures approach means anyone who has recently arrived from countries where it is already circulating is already in hotel quarantine in Queensland.”

There have been no new local COVID-19 cases in Queensland in the last 24 hours.

There were two cases recorded in hotel quarantine, both in travellers from Melbourne.

First look at The Star Gold Coast’s new luxury pool club and event space

A luxurious pool club and skyline party and events space will soon open on level six of The Star Gold Coast’s new $400 million, 53 storey hotel and apartments tower.

Located on the luxe new leisure deck of the new tower, the Isoletto Pool Club and Isoletto Privé events space will welcome guests from mid-December.

The Isoletto Pool Club will be exclusive to all hotel guests within The Star, including The Star Grand, The Darling and Dorsett Gold Coast, and features a stunning pool with an impressive 12m long viewing wall overlooking Broadbeach, plenty of comfortable daybeds as well as ‘wet lounges’ built into the pool itself.

PHOTO: Supplied

There is also a restaurant and lounge that will serve up a range of light dishes full of seasonal, local produce, while guests will be able to order spritzes and cooling cocktails from Isoletto Pool Club’s drinks menu straight to their cabana or daybed.

PHOTO: Supplied

On the southern side of the leisure deck, Isoletto Privé is set to deliver a refined coastal venue for stunning weddings, corporate events and private celebrations.

With a sprawling lawn, deck and terrace, guests will be able to enjoy a seamless indoor or outdoor event at the sunlit filled space, with elegant designs, a sophisticated menu of local dishes, and access to high-end AV.

PHOTO: Supplied

The unveiling of the new venues comes as bookings ‘go-live’ for The Star Residences in readiness for a highly anticipated 2022 return of interstate and international visitors.

“This is an exciting time and a first for The Star, with another phase of our $2 billion extended masterplan about to come to life,” The Star Gold Coast Chief Operating Officer, Jessica Mellor said.

“It’s the biggest expansion of our iconic Gold Coast resort since The Darling opened in 2018,” she said.

PHOTO: Supplied

“We are delighted to debut our brand new one- and two-bedroom apartments in the top levels of the 178m tower for short and long stays, alongside the 594 rooms we have at The Star Grand and the 56 opulent suites at The Darling.

“Visitors to our expanding property will be spoilt for choice, and that includes for those who are looking for a unique rooftop space for weddings, corporate functions and other events,” she said.

For more information and to make a booking at The Star Residences, please visit: star.com.au/goldcoast/hotels-and-spa/the-star-residences

 

 

Gold Coast border changes to begin later this week

Border changes are on the way for this weekend, ahead of Queensland finally reaching the 80 per cent double dose vaccine milestone.

The heavy vehicle checkpoint on the Gold Coast Highway northbound through Bilinga will be dismantled on Thursday and Friday nights.

Contractors will be packing up the four big marquees and the concrete barriers, meaning the Gold Coast Highway will have to be closed between 8.00 pm and 5.00 am on both nights.

Just the northbound lanes will be affected, and police will be diverting that traffic onto the M1.

The heavy vehicle checks will move back to the inspection site on the M1 at Coomera northbound.

Gold Coast Acting Chief Superintendent Rhys Wildman has told the ABC that the heavy vehicles pose a very minor risk to Queensland, but they will continue monitoring them.

“We’ve always had a layered approach on our border operations, we still have that now.

“Anyone who comes through the border there’s still the vehicle monitoring systems we have in place, that’s consistent with the heavy vehicles as well.

“We’ll still be monitoring those vehicles as they cross the border checkpoints but we’ll be doing some randomised intercepts – a risk-based approach – but very much looking at intelligence-based as well.

Since the heavy vehicle checkpoints were installed in Bilinga in July, 126,000 trucks have been stopped.

Acting Chief Superintendent Rhys Wildman says only 2,200 of those had to be turned around, which is less than two per cent.

“When we talk about risk, the risk around heavy vehicles and what that means for us on the Gold Coast and the rest of Queesnland, that risk is diminishing,” Acting Chief Superintendent Wildman told the ABC.

“So we’re actually in a really good place.”