Queenslanders Told To Vote Despite Social Distancing Warnings
Long lines of voters waiting at pre-polling booths in Queensland has caused concern over social distancing and the spread of coronavirus.
Queenslanders are set to hit the polling booths on Saturday to decide on all 77 local governments as well as the state government seats of Bundamba and Currumbin.
About 45 percent of voters had either cast their ballot early or applied for a postal vote as of Wednesday night.
More than 120,000 voters took advantage of extended voting hours on Wednesday. The hours were extended in an effort to encourage early voting, to limit the amount of people voting on Saturday amid the coronavirus outbreak.
It was a similar story on Friday, with lines snaking their way around polling centres, with few people wearing protective equipment and standing less the the required 1.5 metres apart.
With Queenslanders, along with all Australians, being told to self-isolate and not leave the house, the decision to hold an election during the pandemic has been slammed on social media.
Dr Jeannette Young, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, has defended the decision for the election to go ahead, saying there have not yet been any community transmissions in the state.
Young urged voters to take extra precautions when voting and to maintain a 1.5-metre distance while queuing.
“Make sure you've got a pen of your own, take in your card, do it quickly and efficiently, then move to the booth,” she said on Friday.
“Already have made your mind up who you're going to vote for, vote for whoever you have chosen, put the slip of paper into the box and leave. Don’t stay around to talk to people.”
Those who are sick have been told to stay at home.
“If everyone does that… then it will be perfectly safe,” said Young.
Ballot boxes will open at 8 am on Saturday, with polls closing at 6pm. There is a $133 fine for not voting.