Planning for COVID-19 in our prisons
We’re sure that you are aware that COVID-19 is spreading in communities across Queensland, and we are beginning to see cases of COVID-19 in our correctional centres amongst officers and prisoners.
This was expected and planned-for long before the border restrictions eased on December 13.
Queensland Corrective Services has worked hard to plan and prepare for increased COVID-19 cases in the community, and the possible effects on our correctional centres and offices.
We have robust, staged plans in place to allow our correctional centres manage outbreaks as safely as possible.
We thought you’d be interested in knowing what to expect in coming weeks.
What we’ve done so far:
There are a number of things that have been put in place in preparation of COVID-19, including:
- A Chief Health Officer directive that all personal visitors 16 years and older be fully vaccinated from December, 2021.
- Another directive that all officers who work in correctional centres be fully vaccinated.
- A directive that all QCS officers who escort prisoners to hospitals be fully vaccinated.
These directives come on top of the extensive planning and operational processes which have been in place since March 2020, including the use of masks and social distancing for visits.
Additionally, all prisoners in Queensland correctional facilities have either been fully vaccinated or offered vaccination. New receptions are encouraged to get vaccinated as a part of their health assessment, and boosters are provided in the appropriate timeframe.
Prisoners who are not yet vaccinated can ask to be vaccinated at any time.
Previously we have relied on restricting visits and health checking everyone who entered our centres. As COVID-19 becomes more prevalent, we will be taking a different approach to managing the risks associated with the virus, and you will see a more agile approach taken by centres.
How we are managing risks now?
You may have noticed that the past few weeks, there have been some correctional centres which have cancelled visits and restricted internal movements.
This has happened to take additional steps where needed to support the health and safety of prisoners and staff. It doesn’t necessarily mean there has been an outbreak in the centre.
This means visits may be cancelled at short notice, and reinstated as quickly as possible. You can keep an eye on our website and Facebook page to hear about visits being restricted.
*TIP* It is always a good idea to confirm with the centre the day before you are due to visit to make sure they are going ahead, as many centres have activated their COVID response plans, which include day-by-day consideration of staffing requirements.
What about when there is a positive case within a prison?