Queensland hotels prepare to lock down unvaccinated people as December deadline approaches

Unvaccinated Queenslanders could find themselves barred from vacation destinations this summer, with some major hotels saying they will deny reservations rather than navigate the state’s impending COVID-19 restrictions.

From December 17, when the state is expected to meet its 80% vaccination target, Queensland will open its border to interstate travelers – but only if they are fully vaccinated.

The new rules will usher in a series of restrictions for Queenslanders who have not yet been vaccinated, banning them from cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs and tourist experiences.

Under the rules, these people will still be able to access hotels for accommodation, but will be banned from parts of the site that may offer food or drink.

But the prospect of staff having to monitor the behavior of unvaccinated clients worries operators.

Unvaccinated visitors will not be able to stay at the Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser K’gari Island after December 17th.(ABC News: Elaine Ford)

“Impossible to the police”

Kingfisher Bay and Eurong Bay resorts in K’gari (Fraser Island) have confirmed that they will not accept bookings from unvaccinated guests.

David Hay of Kingfisher Bay Resort said he disagreed with tour operators being the ones to implement government guidelines and said it was a “pragmatic” move.

“It’s not reasonable to expect our staff to control these things – it’s not their job,” he said.

“Everyone is there to take care of everyone’s health, and it is our duty of care to our staff and customers that [led to] this decision.

A gray-haired man in a uniform smiles for the camera on a clear day with a block of resort units in the background.
Kingfisher Bay Resort General Manager David Hay.(ABC Wide Bay: Nicole Hegarty)

A ban and a bind

Steve Knight of Fraser Island Retreat may also lock out unvaccinated customers from his general store despite the grocery store being classified as an “essential service” because the store has a bar and a bistro.

Under government rules, the unvaccinated should just stay away from certain areas, but at this hotel the front desk doubles as a cafe.

“It’s the same counter where you order coffees and sandwiches,” Mr. Knight said.

The blue vehicle ferry approaches the pier on Fraser Island, with the Kingfisher Bay Resort in the bush in the background.
The new rules take effect on December 17, but business owners and potential travelers are unsure of what they will mean to them.(ABC News: Elaine Ford)

Even though he has found a way to allow unvaccinated guests to stay, the retreat does not offer room service and there is no other food available in the area.

Mr Knight said guests were now told the law required the retreat to only allow fully vaccinated people on the premises, but he hoped for government intervention.

“If we can get an exemption that would be the ideal result,” he said.

The safety of guests is a “priority”

Earlier this year, the Paradise Resort on the Gold Coast made the staff double punch mandatory.

Director David Brooks has made it clear that when state borders open, the resort will also require guests to be fully immunized.

“We believe that they are the most important and that the protection and safety of their stay is of the utmost importance.”

Children play in a brightly colored water park.
Paradise Resort says it will not accept bookings from guests who are not fully vaccinated.(Provided: Paradise Resort)

Mr Brooks said his 25-year-old daughter was “bedridden for three months” after contracting COVID early last year.

“It can take anyone, from any creed or from any background,” he said.

Those who stay at the resort have access to all of its facilities, including the water park, ice rink, climbing walls and restaurants.

Mr Brooks said it would be “impossible to work with” allowing some but not others to enter attractions “.

“Having unvaccinated guests walking around the property using all facilities puts the majority at risk, as well as our staff who have already achieved the 99% vaccination rate,” he said.

The Queensland Hotels Association (QHA) on Thursday released a member statement on its website thanking members for their patience as they work to clarify the rules with the government.

He said he still did not know what “reasonable measures” hotels should take against unvaccinated guests, or whether they could order take out food and coffee.

“The QHA is aware that there are still many areas requiring clarification,” he wrote.

Even campers will have to check

Those planning to hit the sand or the bush for a camping trip to avoid vaccination rules will also need to read the fine print.

Stays in Moreton Bay and North Stradbroke Island will be banned after the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation announced that those wishing to stay with Minjerribah or Mulgumpin Camping should provide a vaccination certificate seven days in advance.

He said the well-being of members of his indigenous community, especially vulnerable elders, was the reason for the decision.

State-run campgrounds do not require vaccinations to visit, although the Department of the Environment has said it is still working with Queensland Health regarding the rules.

Ferries carrying cars to Fraser Island will accept unvaccinated travelers, but they must book in advance, pay in advance, and stay in their cars during the trip.

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