Queensland prisons lock down against COVID-19
The COVID-19 response is a rapidly evolving environment, and in accordance with advice from Queensland Health and the Chief Health Officer, and with their support I will be further restricting access to Correctional Centres in Queensland.
I have made the decision that the time has come to close Queensland’s adult prisons to all visitors, effective from tomorrow, Friday 27 March 2020, with all prisons moving to Stage 3 Restrictions.
These further restrictions will apply to all but essential QCS personnel and approved Queensland Health officers and others (such as vital contractors required for business critical operations) subject to the appropriate approvals.
Wolston Correctional Centre:
The only exception is Wolston Correctional Centre, which will move to Stage 4 Restrictions, and remain in lockdown to allow continued contact tracing following an officer testing positive for COVID-19 yesterday.
This lockdown will allow prisoner isolation, the ability to further clean the centre and the chance to closely monitor prisoners for signs of infection.
Introduction of health screening for staff:
QCS is committed to protecting officer safety, and the safety of the prisoners in our care, and we are in daily contact with the Chief Health Officer to ensure we are responding with an evidence-based approach to managing the risks associated with this pandemic.
Consequently, officers and other essential staff entering Queensland prisons, will undergo medical screening, including temperature checks before entering our centres from tomorrow March 27. People exhibiting a temperature over 38 degrees or flu symptoms will not be permitted access to our prisons, but instead will be referred to a fever clinic or emergency room.
These decisions have not been taken lightly, and I am aware that this will have significant impacts on our prisons, and may further heighten tensions amongst the prisoner groups, however my absolute priority is to do everything in my power to prevent the introduction of the pandemic into our centres.
Due to the nature of prisons, including the limitations of our built environment and the prisoner group, which as a whole has poorer health than the general community, it is necessary to restrict access to our prisons to only prison employees at this time.
We will provide information to prisoners and their families about this step, and how they can access necessary legal and other official information, as well as keep in touch with their families.
I’d like to acknowledge the work of our officers at this incredibly uncertain and challenging time. Working in correctional centres has always been complex and dynamic, and this pandemic has magnified the difficulty significantly.
The health and safety of our officers, their families and the people in our care is an absolute priority, and we are doing everything in our power to keep everyone safe.
Peter Martin APM
Commissioner Queensland Corrective Services