COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Workers in a high-risk setting Direction
Effective from: 8:30am AEST 11 December 2021
Posted: 11 December 2021
Direction from Chief Health Officer in accordance with emergency powers arising from the declared public health emergency
Public Health Act 2005 (Qld)
On 29 January 2020, under the Public Health Act 2005, the Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services made an order declaring a public health emergency in relation to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The public health emergency area specified in the order is for ‘all of Queensland’. Its duration has been extended by regulation to 26 March 2022 and may be further extended.
Further to this declaration, l, Dr Peter Aitken, Chief Health Officer, reasonably believe it is necessary to give the following directions pursuant to s362B of the Public Health Act 2005 to assist in containing, or to respond to, the spread of COVID-19 within the community.
This public health direction applies to workers who enter, work in, or provide services in a high-risk setting. The direction defines how a high-risk setting is identified by the Chief Health Officer and specifies the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and related obligations for workers and employers operating in a high-risk setting. The direction recognises that an employer may mandate vaccination for employees, where otherwise permitted at law, based on the requirements of a role.
This Public Health Direction applies to workers in settings where there is:
a high risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus; or
the setting is used by a large number of vulnerable persons; or
a sudden reduction in available workforce due to COVID-19 cases or quarantine would significantly affect the continuity of critical services resulting in potential consequential public health and safety risks to the community.
This Public Health Direction supplements existing public health directions already made to contain or respond to the spread of COVID-19 by mandating vaccination of workers in healthcare settings, in quarantine facilities and in vulnerable facilities. Nothing in this public health direction reduces the requirements of those public health directions.
Separately from the requirements of Public Health Directions, under sections 362G and 362H of the Public Health Act 2005, an emergency officer (public health) can require a person to comply with additional directions if the emergency officer believes it is reasonably necessary to assist in containing, or to respond to, the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
This Public Health Direction may be referred to as the COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Workers in a High-Risk Setting Direction.
This Public Health Direction applies from time of publication commences until the end of the declared public health emergency, unless it is revoked or replaced.
This Public Health Direction applies to workers in a high-risk setting in the public, private and non-government sectors, and identifies the COVID-19 vaccination and related requirements for workers, employers and responsible persons in high risk settings.
This Public Health Direction does not apply to people who visit the high-risk setting to access or use its services, either for themselves or as a support person for someone else.
The requirements of this public health direction prevail where a worker is required to be vaccinated under this direction, and another public health direction also applies to the worker but does not require the worker to be vaccinated. The worker must comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements for workers in a high-risk setting.
PART 1 – WORKERS IN A HIGH-RISK SETTING
A worker must not enter and remain in, work in, or provide services in a high-risk setting unless the worker complies with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements in paragraph 17.
Examples: a contractor, union official, regulator, auditor, courier, performer, or sales representative must comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements to work in a high-risk setting even though they may only occasionally enter the setting as part of their work duties.
An employer whose employees or contractors work in a high-risk setting must notify workers of the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and take all reasonable steps to ensure that a worker does not enter and remain in, work in, provide services or volunteer in a high-risk setting if the person does not meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirements or have a medical contraindication for COVID-19 vaccines.
A high-risk setting is a service, business or activity declared to be a high-risk setting by the Chief Health Officer in Schedule 2.
Despite paragraph 11, if part of a high-risk setting is not co-located and meets the requirements in paragraph 13, a person engaged or employed to undertake work in that part of the high-risk setting is not subject to COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
For paragraph 12 to apply, the part of a high-risk setting must:
be unoccupied by users and workers of the high-risk setting; and
be physically separate from the occupied part of the high-risk setting or be secured and delineated so that users and workers of the high-risk setting cannot enter; and
not have shared points of access with the users and workers of the high-risk setting; and
not be accessed by a person who uses the facilities (for example, toilets or lunchroom) in the high-risk setting.
Examples: Construction works on a free standing building not connected to an occupied high risk setting (new build or refurbishment) or installation of a modular building at a school or health campus
In addition to paragraph 13, if a person engaged or employed to undertake work in that part of the high-risk setting enters the occupied high-risk setting, the person must comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
Despite paragraph 11, when a high-risk setting is not occupied by users and workers of the high-risk setting, the COVID- 19 vaccination requirements do not apply.
Example: If a school hall which is hired out on the weekends for taekwondo lessons, the taekwondo instructor does not need to meet the COVID- 19 vaccination requirements.
The responsible person for a high-risk setting must take reasonable steps to notify employers and workers in the high-risk setting of the COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
Note: a sole trader may be a responsible person, an employer and a worker.
PART 2 – COVID-19 VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS
The COVID-19 vaccination requirements are that:
by 17 December 2021, a worker in a high-risk setting has received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine; and
by 11.59pm AEST on 23 January 2022, a worker in a high-risk setting has received the prescribed number of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine; and
as soon as reasonably practicable after each dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the worker must show evidence of having received the COVID-19 vaccine dose as provided in paragraph 19.
A worker in a high-risk setting must show evidence of having received the COVID-19 vaccine:
to their employer - where the worker is employed or engaged by, or volunteers for, a person who operates a business, activity or undertaking within a high-risk setting or who provides services or workers to the responsible person to work in the high-risk setting; or
to the responsible person - where the worker is employed or engaged by, or volunteers for, the responsible person for the high-risk setting; or
to the responsible person for the high-risk setting - where the worker is engaged directly or indirectly, including as a volunteer, to provide support or assistance to a student or to a prisoner or detainee at a high-risk setting.
Employees who work at an airport must be vaccinated and show evidence of their vaccination to their employer, for example an operator of a car rental agency.
A volunteer at an independent school must be vaccinated and must show evidence of their vaccination to the school Principal.
Evidence of COVID-19 vaccination (printed or electronic) includes:
written confirmation of COVID-19 vaccination provided to the person as part of the vaccination process, such as a record of vaccine card; or
vaccination information displayed on the Check in Qld app; or
a COVID-19 digital certificate or printed vaccination certificate from the Australian Immunisation Register; or
an online or printed immunisation history statement for COVID-19 vaccination, including confirmation of a medical contraindication; or
Note: A visitor’s immunisation history statement can be obtained from the Australian Government using myGov, the Medicare mobile app or by calling the Australian Immunisation Register and requesting a statement to be posted.
Note: If a person is unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of a medical contraindication, they must provide evidence of a medical contraindication.
an International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate:
in a printed or electronic form from the Department of Home Affairs that confirms completion of an Australia Travel Declaration and vaccination against COVID-19 overseas; or
through Medicare online account through myGov or the Medicare mobile app; or
an official record of vaccination provided to the person when vaccinated against COVID-19 overseas.
PART 3 – EXCEPTIONS
Paragraph 9 does not apply to a worker who is unable to be vaccinated due to a medical contraindication where the responsible person for the high-risk setting:
assesses the risk to other staff, clients and other persons at the high-risk setting; and
the worker undertakes a COVID-19 PCR test before starting work each day and provides a negative test result to the responsible person for the high-risk setting as soon as reasonably practicable after the result is received; and
the worker uses personal protective equipment as required by the responsible person for the high-risk setting.
Note: results of the daily PCR test may not be available before the worker’s shift starts and can be provided to the employer on a rolling basis when the results are received.
A worker in a high-risk setting to whom paragraph 20 applies must provide evidence of the medical contraindication.
Note: evidence of medical contraindication is a digital or paper COVID- 19 vaccine medical exemption recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register, or an Australian Immunisation Register immunisation medical exemptions form completed and signed by an eligible health professional for the COVID- 19 vaccine .
Where the person has a temporary medical contraindication for being unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, paragraph 20 only applies for the period specified. If the medical contraindication continues beyond the specified period, the person must provide new evidence of a continuing medical contraindication or of their COVID-19 vaccination to comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
Paragraph 9 does not apply to a worker in a high-risk setting where:
the worker is a participant in a COVID-19 vaccine trial; and
the responsible person for the high-risk setting assesses the risk to other staff, users, clients and other persons in the high-risk setting and determines that the worker may continue to work in the high-risk setting.
A worker in a high-risk setting to whom paragraph 23 applies must notify the responsible person for the high-risk setting as soon as reasonably practicable upon completion of their participation in a COVID-19 vaccine trial.
The exception provided in paragraph 23 ceases to apply upon the earlier of:
the trial COVID-19 vaccine being recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration; or
the trial COVID-19 vaccine being approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration; or
the trial COVID-19 vaccine being rejected for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Responding to Critical Workforce Shortages
The responsible person for a high-risk setting may permit an unvaccinated worker to enter, work in, or provide services in the high-risk setting, for a maximum period of one month until the critical workforce issue can be resolved, if:
the responsible person has assessed the risk to other persons accessing the high-risk setting; and
the responsible person reasonably believes it is necessary to respond to a critical workforce shortage; and
personal protective equipment is used by the worker in the high-risk setting as required by the responsible person or the employer; and
the unvaccinated worker in the high-risk setting undertakes a COVID- 19 PCR test before starting work each day, and the test results are provided to the employer as soon as reasonably practicable after the worker receives the test result.
Note: An unvaccinated worker in a high-risk setting may enter, work in, or provide services in a high-risk setting to respond to a critical workforce shortage while workers who meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirements are recruited or alternative arrangements are made to respond to the critical workforce shortage.
Responding to Critical Support Needs
An unvaccinated worker is permitted to enter, work in, or provide services in the high-risk setting, to provide support to a client or user of the high-risk setting, for mental health or well-being and for legal or advocacy services, if:
the responsible person has assessed the risk to other persons in the high-risk setting; and
the responsible person reasonably believes it is necessary to provide health, wellbeing, legal or advocacy support to a vulnerable person at the high-risk setting; and
personal protective equipment is used by the unvaccinated worker in the high-risk setting ; and
where the worker enters the high-risk setting for a single visit, a COVID-19 PCR test is undertaken by the unvaccinated worker within 24 hours of entry, and
where the worker enters the high-risk setting on multiple consecutive days, a COVID-19 PCR test is undertaken by the unvaccinated worker before entering the high-risk setting each day, and the test results provided to the responsible person for the high-risk setting as soon as reasonably practicable when received.
Example: an unvaccinated mental health support worker regularly provides support to a prisoner in a corrective services facility. The prisoner relies on continuity and face to face contact for their mental health and wellbeing and their health outcomes would be adversely impacted by a change in support arrangements.
Emergency entry to high risk settings
An unvaccinated worker may enter a high-risk setting for any of the following purposes, and paragraph 9 does not apply:
to respond to an emergency or provide an emergency service; or
to undertake a legislated regulatory or compliance function; or
as part of official union duties in response to an emergent need.
Examples: a contractor, who is not vaccinated, enters a school during school hours to fix flooding in the toilet block.
There is a salmonella outbreak at a high-risk setting and an environmental health officer may investigate the setting, regardless of whether the person meets the COVID-19 vaccination requirements or is unvaccinated.
An unvaccinated worker must advise the responsible person for the high-risk setting of the emergency entry and of their vaccination status as soon as is reasonably practicable. Use of the Check In Qld app will satisfy the requirements of this paragraph.
Example: an unvaccinated firefighter enters a school on a weekend, when the school is empty and locked up, in response to a fire alarm. The fire alarm is a false alert and the firefighter checks in to the school using their Check In Qld app. No further notification is required for the purposes of this public health direction (although other notifications to the school may be required).
Entry to high risk settings for law enforcement
Where the responsible person for a high-risk setting is satisfied that a worker is entering for the purposes of law enforcement and disclosure of their compliance with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements is inconsistent with the law enforcement function, the responsible person may permit the worker to enter and remain in the high-risk setting without showing evidence of COVID-19 vaccination, medical contraindication, or of being a COVID-19 vaccine trial participant and the responsible person is not required to record details in relation to the worker.
PART 4 – RECORD KEEPING REQUIREMENTS
An employer must:
keep a record of the COVID-19 vaccination status, the type of proof of COVID-19 vaccination, evidence of a medical contraindication, or evidence of being a COVID-19 vaccine trial participant for each worker; and
if requested, provide the information collected under paragraph 31(a) to a public health officer.
PART 5 — OTHER MATTERS
Nothing in this public health direction prevents an employer from making a lawful direction requiring an employee to be vaccinated for COVID-19 where the employer has determined it is a requirement of the employee’s role.
Nothing in this Public Health Direction prevents a worker who does not meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirements from entering or using the services of a high-risk setting as a client, or visitor or to accompany a person who uses the services of a high-risk setting.
Example: an unvaccinated plumber can only work on a school premises in an emergency, but can attend parent activities at the school. A relief teacher must meet the vaccination requirements to continue to work at a school, but may attend parent teacher interviews as a parent if unvaccinated, or other parental responsibilities.
PART 6 — DEFINITIONS
Definitions used in this Direction are in Schedule 1.
PART 7 — PENALTIES
A person to whom the direction applies commits an offence if the person fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with the direction.
Section 362D of the Public Health Act 2005 provides:
Failure to comply with public health directions
A person to whom a public health direction applies must comply with the direction unless the person has a reasonable excuse.
Maximum penalty—100 penalty units or 6 months imprisonment.
Dr Peter Aitken
Chief Health Officer
11 December 2021
Published on the Queensland Health website at 8:30 am
SCHEDULE 1 – DEFINITIONS
For the purposes of this Public Health Direction:
Airport precinct means the:
airport terminals; and
outdoor passenger areas such as passenger transport areas including terminal car parks and taxi ranks; and
areas where interstate or international freight or goods are unloaded, screened, processed or transferred.
Co-located means using shared facilities and staff and users of the high-risk setting move freely between the co-located functions or settings.
Example: a regional high school and a TAFE are co-located in a regional town. TAFE educators attend the high school to deliver some classes and high school students attend the TAFE facilities for some of their training. The educational settings share workshops and common areas. Workers in the TAFE that is co-located with the high school must comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
Example: part of a school’s grounds are fenced off while construction of a gym is undertaken. While the construction work progresses, school staff and students are excluded from the construction site and the construction company has control of the site. The construction site is not co-located with the school and is not subject to the COVID-19 vaccination requirements that apply to the high-risk setting.
Corrective services facilities visitor means any visitor to a corrective services facility other than a personal visitor as defined In the Corrective Services Act 2006.
COVID-19 PCR test means tested for COVID-19 with an oropharyngeal and deep nasal swab for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, but does not include a self-test.
COVID-19 vaccination requirements see paragraph 17.
COVID-19 vaccine is a vaccine for COVID-19 that is approved for use in Australia or recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
COVID-19 vaccine trial means a medical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine under either the Clinical Trial Notification or Clinical Trial Approval schemes regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
COVID-19 vaccine trial participant means a person who:
is an active participant in a COVID-19 vaccine trial; and
provides a medical certificate or letter from a medical practitioner, registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Queensland) associated with the COVID-19 vaccine trial confirming that:
the worker is participating in a Phase 3 or 4 COVID-19 vaccine trial; and
the worker has received at least one active dose of the COVID-19 vaccine being trialled.
Critical workforce shortage means a sustained workforce shortage in a high-risk setting that the responsible person for the high-risk setting considers may directly and significantly compromise the health or safety of other persons within the high-risk setting or the delivery of essential services to users of the high-risk setting.
Example: A critical workforce shortage may be a shortage of more than 10 per cent of staff for a sustained period of 7 days or more, however this will depend on the size of the high-risk setting, baseline staffing levels (including rostering arrangements and relief pool arrangements), and will depend on the nature and extent of the operational impacts on a vulnerable cohort.
Eligible health professionals means any of the following:
fellows of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (as defined by the Health Insurance Act 1973 Cth); or
fellows of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (as defined by the Health Insurance Act 1973 Cth); or
on Medicare’s Vocation Register of General Practitioners (as defined by the Health Insurance Act 1973 Cth); or
practice registrar on an approved 3GA training placement; or
public health physician; or
infectious diseases physician; or
Emergency officer (public health) means an emergency officer appointed under the Public Health Act 2005.
Note: Emergency officers appointed under the Public Health Act 2005 include public health officers and police.
Employer means a person, or other legal entity that employs or otherwise engages a worker.
High-risk setting is a type of service, business or activity declared to be a high-risk setting by the Chief Health Officer in Schedule 2.
Medical contraindication means a temporary or permanent contraindication that is notified to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) by an eligible health professional completing an Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) immunisation medical exemptions form in relation to a person, and recorded on the person’s Immunisation History Statement (IHS).
Note: a temporary vaccine exemption may apply until a specified date due to acute major illness, significant immunocompromise of short duration and recognised overseas vaccination.
Responsible person for a high-risk setting means the person who is legally responsible for the setting, including in relation to compliance with regulatory and other requirements for the setting.
Example: the Principal of a school may be the responsible person; the Director General is the responsible person for a government department; a chief executive or Board Chair is the responsible person for a not for profit organisation. The responsible person may also be the employer.
Unvaccinated worker means a person who does not meet the COVID- 19 vaccination requirements.
Visitor means any person who enters a high-risk setting other than a worker and does not include a corrective services facility visitor.
Vulnerable person means a person who is ineligible or unable to be vaccinated for COVID-19 because of their age or a medical contraindication, or a person with underlying medical conditions that place them at greater risk of adverse impacts from COVID-19 even if they are vaccinated.
Example: children under the eligible age limit for COVID-19 vaccination; children who are immunocompromised or undergoing treatment that affects the efficacy of the vaccine; residents in residential aged care facilities; people with disabilities; patients in hospitals.
Worker includes a person who:
is employed at a high-risk setting on a part-time, casual or full-time basis; or
is a government employee whose duties involve attendance at a high-risk setting; or
undertakes work, whether paid or unpaid, at the high-risk setting; or
is a contractor providing services to or at the high-risk setting; or
is a corrective services facility visitor; or
is attending the high-risk setting in the context of duties relating to the administration, regulation, governance, managerial oversight, or legal framework relating to the high-risk setting; or
is a performer, presenter or other specialist entering the high risk setting as part of delivering an activity, function or event; or
is a volunteer delivering a service in the high-risk setting; or
is undertaking a work placement related to an enrolled course of study
Examples: a contractor, union official, regulator, auditor, courier, performer, school crossing person, or sales representative must comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements to work in a high risk setting even though they may only occasionally enter the setting as part of their work duties.
Note: A worker who visits a high-risk setting as an incidental part of their duties but is not providing services within the high-risk setting, such as a delivery driver or taxi driver is not a worker at a high-risk setting.
SCHEDULE 2 – HIGH-RISK SETTINGS
Early childhood, primary and secondary educational settings including:
A corrective services facility listed in Schedule 4 of the Corrective Services Act 2006, specifically:
|Police watch houses|
The youth detention centres listed in Schedule 1 of the Youth Justice Regulation 2016:
The following areas of an airport that receives interstate or overseas flights:
For example: At Brisbane airport, Skygate is not within the airport precinct.