Queensland goes against National Cabinet advice to relax aged care visits and allow children and family gatherings of up to 20 people – $13,000 fines for non-compliance

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has lifted restrictions on visitors to aged care homes – directly undermining the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice on residential care.

Under the AHPPC advice, visits are limited to a maximum of two visitors at one time per day with children under 16 only permitted in limited circumstances, such as palliative care.

But under the Queensland changes announced yesterday, aged care residents can have two visitors at a time – including children – for as often and as long as they like.

The updated public health direction also allows residents to leave their homes for specific reasons such as exercise, health appointments, end of life or palliative care, to visit another aged care home and attend funerals and family gatherings of up to 20 people.

Service providers, such as allied health, legal advisors, music and diversional therapists and hairdressers, are also now allowed to visit.

However, visitors must have had their 2020 flu vaccination – required under both Federal and State legislation.

Group outings are also not allowed.

Ms Palaszczuk said: “Now that we are in a safer position, we can afford to ease some of these restrictions to allow residents to receive visits from more of their loved ones.”

The Premier added that her own grandmother who lives in residential care has had limited contact with family and friends this year because of the restrictions.

Queensland has had fewer new coronavirus cases with just five in the past week – but as Victoria has shown, community transmission is still a real risk.

The restrictions have also been lifted immediately – meaning providers must change their visiting arrangements straightaway to meet the new requirements including extra staffing and screening from the expected increase in visitors.

Providers must comply too – the maximum penalty for non-compliance is 100 penalty units or $13,345 in Queensland.