The Queensland Government is taking a leaf out of South Australia's playbook in a bid to stamp out a potential COVID-19 outbreak, with a three-day lockdown to start from 6pm today in Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Ipswich, Redlands and Logan.
The announcement follows yesterday's confirmation that a confirmed case of a hotel quarantine cleaner from Brisbane's south has the highly contagious UK strain of the virus.
People in the affected local government areas (LGAs) will be required to stay at home except:
- for education, or work if they can't work from home;
- to buy essentials like groceries and medicine within their local area;
- look after the vulnerable; and
- exercise within their neighbourhood with no more than one person from their household.
Masks will also need to be worn everywhere in those local government areas except if people are at home.
Cafes, pubs and restaurants will be open only for take-away service, and there will be closures for cinemas, entertainment and recreation venues, gyms, and places of worship.
Funerals will be restricted to 20 guests and weddings restricted to 10 guests.
People in Greater Brisbane have been advised not to leave the area during the period, including non-residents. People can choose to enter Brisbane during this period but are bound by the same restrictions and are urged to delay travel, although they can enter Greater Brisbane to attain health care.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was asking people to have a long weekend at home, as "there are no second chances with this pandemic".
"We have learned from Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales that a short, sharp lockdown is better than a long one and this a more contagious strain," she said.
"Three days is better than 30."
The Premier said she once again called on Queenslanders to protect each other.
"All we can do is stay home and stay safe and please get tested," the Premier said.
BREAKING: Following a confirmed case of the highly infections UK coronavirus strain, Greater Brisbane will be entering a three day lockdown.Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) January 7, 2021
These measures are tough, but they are important to keep our community safe.#covid19 pic.twitter.com/o8CfnRraYl
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said extra testing clinics with more staff had been opened.
"We want to see as many people tested as possible and people stay home and stay safe," the Minister said.Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said it was essential to stop people moving through the community.
"We know that to stop the spread of the virus we have to stop the movement of people and test, test, test," Dr Young said.
"Queenslanders have done a tremendous job of containing this virus for so long- we just have to keep it up."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison praised the Queensland Premier on Twitter for her decision, describing it as a "wise call" to have a brief lockdown while authorities get on top of the recent case.
"This will buy much needed time," the Prime Minister said.
Wise call by Qld Premier @AnnastaciaMP to have a brief lockdown to enable Queensland health authorities to get on top of the UK strain case in Brisbane.Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) January 7, 2021
A big thanks in advance to everyone in greater Brisbane for their patience in coming days.
This will buy much needed time.
New strain's spread "out of control" in the UK
The Independent Sage, a group of scientists in the UK, issued a statement last week concluded the new strain of COVID-19 that seems to have emerged in the southeast of England is between 40-80 per cent more transmissible than earlier variants.
The scientists said COVID-19 was "out of control" in the UK with current Tier 4 stay-at-home restrictions now unable to contain its spread, even with closure of schools and universities.
"The pandemic is now out of control, and the NHS is struggling, with some hospitals having to stop non-COVID activities. The NHS (National Health Service) is no longer being protected," the Independent Sage commented.
"For these reasons, there is a strong argument for maximising the coverage of the population with at least one dose of vaccine, even though this requires a change to the dosage schedule.
"The urgency of concerted and effective action to supress the new variant cannot be overstated."
The Independent Sage also called for restricted movement from and to Great Britain with the rest of the world. There are currently at least 40 nations worldwide that have closed their borders to UK arrivals, including Singapore, Spain, Canada and India.
Updated at 8:51am AEST on 8 January 2021.