Queensland hotels prepare to lock out the unvaccinated as December deadline looms

Unvaccinated Queenslanders may find themselves cornered from holiday destinations this summer, as some major hotels say they will decline reservations rather than bypass the state’s impending COVID-19 restrictions.

Starting December 17, when the state is set to reach its 80 percent vaccination target, fully vaccinated travelers from the United States will be able to enter the state without the need for quarantine.

But it will also enter a set of restrictions on those who have not yet been vaccinated, preventing them from cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs and tourist experiences.

Under the rules, these people will still be able to get to hotels to stay but will be banned from certain parts of the place that may serve food or drinks.

But the prospect of staff having to monitor the behavior of non-restaurant guests worries operators.

Welcome to log in the bushes near the jetty at Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island off southeast Queensland.
Non-vaccinated visitors will not be able to stay at the Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island as Gary from December 17th.(ABC News: Eileen Ford)

Impossible for the police

The Kingfisher Bay and Eurong Bay Resorts in K’gari (Fraser Island) have confirmed that they will not accept reservations from non-restaurant guests.

David Haye of the Kingfisher Bay resort said he disagreed with tourism operators being the ones to implement government guidelines, and said it was a “workable” decision.

“It’s unreasonable to expect our employees to police these things – that’s not their job,” he said.

“Everyone is there to take care of everyone’s health, and it is our duty to take care of our employees and sponsors [led to] This decision.

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

ban and link

Steve Knight of Fraser Island Retreat may ban unvaccinated customers from his general store even though the groceries are classified as “essential service,” because the store has an attached bar and bistro.

Under government rules, non-vaccinators will simply have to stay away from certain areas, but in this hotel, the reception also serves as a coffee shop.

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

A blue composite ferry approaches a pier on Fraser Island, with Kingfisher Bay Resort in the bushes in the background.
The new rules go into effect on December 17, but business owners and potential travelers are confused about what they will mean for them.(ABC News: Eileen Ford)

Even if he finds some way to allow non-restaurant guests to stay, the resort does not provide room service, and no other food is available in the area.

Mr Knight said guests have now been told the law requires withdrawal to allow only fully vaccinated people to enter the building, but he had hoped for government intervention.

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

Guest safety is paramount

Earlier this year, the Paradise Resort, located on the Gold Coast, made it mandatory for employees to stab twice.

Manager David Brooks explained that when state borders open, the resort will require guests to be fully vaccinated as well.

“We believe they are the most important and that the protection and safety of their residence is paramount.”

Children play in a colorful water park.
Paradise Resort says it will not accept reservations from customers who have not been fully vaccinated.(Supplied: Paradise Resort)

Mr Brooks said his 25-year-old daughter had been “in bed for three months” after contracting COVID early last year.

“It can take anyone, of any creed or any walk in life,” he said.

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

Allowing some but not others to enter the attractions would be “impossible to work with,” Brooks said.

“Not vaccinating guests while walking around the property using all facilities puts the majority at risk, along with our staff who have already reached a 99 per cent vaccination rate,” he said.

The Queensland Hotel Association (QHA) posted a statement to members on its website on Thursday to thank members for their patience as it works to clarify the rules with the government.

She said she still did not know what “reasonable steps” hotels would be expected to take against non-immune customers, or if they could order takeaway food and coffee.

“The Public Health Authority recognizes that there are still many areas that require clarification,” she wrote.

Even campers will need to check

Those considering hitting the sand or bush on a camping trip to avoid vaccination rules will also need to read the finer details.

Stays in Moreton Bay and on North Stradbroke Island will be prohibited after Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation announced that those wishing to stay with Minjerribah or Mulgombin Camping will have to present a vaccination certificate seven days in advance.

She said it was the well-being of her Aboriginal community members, particularly the vulnerable elderly, that prompted the decision.

State-run camps do not require vaccinations to visit, although the environment department said it was still working with Queensland Health on the rules.

Car ferries to Fraser Island will accept unvaccinated travelers, but they must pre-book, prepay, and stay in their vehicles during the trip.

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