Prisons in virus lockdown: Strict new access rules

EVERY prison across the state has been shut to all visitors, unless they are staff, health officers or vital contractors, to stop the spread of coronavirus.

All people entering Queensland jails will also undergo medical screening and temperature checks from today and anyone with a temperature over 38 degrees or exhibiting flu symptoms will not be allowed in.

Commissioner Peter Martin has made the restrictions effective from today, with prisons moving to "Stage 3" response to COVID-19.



Family and friends had already been banned but under the new guidelines corrective services staff, approved Queensland Health officers and vital contractors will be the only people allowed into jails.

The Commissioner has also declared an emergency at Wolston after an officer tested positive to coronavirus, with the jail still locked down.

All activities have been suspended, prisoner privileges withheld and any access other than staff is prohibited unless approved by Mr Martin.



The prison is undergoing a forensic clean after a prison officer tested positive after borrowing a trailer from a holidaying colleague who had just returned from the highly-infected Ruby Princess cruise.

"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," he wrote about the latest stage of response.



"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.

Stage 3 Declaration

Originally published as Prisons in virus lockdown: Strict new access rules

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