Queensland mandates truck driver Covid vax for entry

October 15 deadline requirements also put companies in the frame

Queensland mandates truck driver Covid vax for entry
Annastacia Palaszczuk

With virulent Covid Delta strain examples to the south and a number of truck drivers testing positive, Queensland has tightened up freight border rules in line with Western Australia.

Speaking publically today, premier Annastacia Palaszczuk noted that seven truck drivers crossing into the state since August 24 has tested positive to the virus.

One case of concern had seen community exposure for eight days while the truck driver involved had been infectious when staying in shared accommodation.

That case had attracted police attention.

It will be of some solace to the industry that it has more than two weeks to adjust before the October 15 deadline but the new rules will put the onus on fleet owners and other employers to have their Covid rules in place.

The Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) boiled the announcement into six points:

  • evidence of first Covid vaccination dose by Friday Octoer 15
  • evidence of a second dose by Friday November 15 or evidence of an appointment for one
  • evidence of a negative result from a test in the previous seven days
  • valid freight and logistics F pass
  • Covid safe plan
  • close-contact record sheet.

"From today we're starting roadside vaccinations for truckies, there's going to be a special clinic set up at John Flynn Hospital at Boyd Street, Tugun," Palaszczuk said.

In a statement, she also said: "Freight workers and truck drivers are absolutely essential to keeping food on the table and rebuilding our economy.

"Regular testing has meant cases have been picked up quickly. But due to the nature of their work, we know that many freight workers and truck drivers are at greater risk of contracting Covid-19.

"That’s why we’re ramping up our vaccination rollout and making it quicker and easier for truck drivers crossing through the Gold Coast border to get vaccinated.

"Many drivers are already vaccinated – but for those that aren’t, we want to make it as easy as possible for them to get the jab." 

Read how WA announced mandatory jabs at the border for truck drivers, here

Transport and main roads minister Mark Bailey addressed the changes in similar terms to WA premier Mark McGowan, praising the "magnificent job" truck drivers had done during the pandemic but underlining the increased risk, particularly posed by those travelling from hotspots.

"I think today's positive case does show that there is a need to increase those provisions in terms of safety for truckies themselves and also the safety of the community in Queensland," Bailey told the state news media.

"We know that freight workers have lower fully vaccinated rates than the general population, so we need to get that up.

"If you're a truckie, now is the time to get vaccinated, you will need it to operate in and out of Queensland.

"You'll also need, as a third provision, a negative test within seven days prior to entering Queensland … the current provisions in terms of 72 hours will be redundant."

In a statement, Bailey added: "The freight industry has continued to step up to meet the additional requirements that have been asked of them since the pandemic began, and we know we’re asking more of them again to help us stop Delta from coming to Queensland," Mr Bailey said.

"Our big rig Covid-19 testing clinics at Boondall and Goondiwindi have worked really well so adding a pop-up vaccination clinic for truckies further strengthens our health response.

"We have been working with industry to get the balance of these new regulations right, so I thank them for their efforts and ongoing support through these challenging times.

"I encourage all drivers to take advantage of this and get vaccinated."

Meanwhile, in Melbourne, ABC News reports police applying 16 fines to truck drivers during a slow drive disruption by nine trucks on Melbourne’s freeways, according to news.com.au.

The protest, involving heavy rigid tippers and truck and dogs were against lockdowns and mandatory vaccinations, likely involving the building industry.

Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO Peter Anderson took to ABC News to condemn the action.

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