Brisbane under lockdown from 5pm today as COVID cluster grows

Brisbane under lockdown from 5pm today as COVID cluster grows

UPDATE: Queensland Health continues to provide updates on locations where COVID-19 cases visited. Early this evening, locations were added in the Brisbane CBD, while NSW Health has also put out an extended list of venues concerned in Byron Bay.

Those living in Greater Brisbane will be placed into lockdown from 5pm today for three days after a cluster of COVID-19 cases grew by four overnight.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urged anyone who has been in Greater Brisbane since 20 March to stay at home, and in declaring the area a hotspot has asked all other states and territories to do the same.

In addition, because one of the new COVID-19 cases travelled to Gladstone while infectious, the rest of Queensland will be subject to new restrictions including compulsory mask wearing and gathering limits.

Two of the new cases - a nurse and her sister - were both recently in Byron Bay. How they caught the virus is still under investigation.

This latest lockdown comes as a cluster of the UK variant of COVID-19 grew to seven overnight after four new positive infections were detected on Sunday.

Queensland Health reported six other cases of COVID-19 today too, however they are all overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.

As such, from 5pm today for three days, those in Greater Brisbane will need to stay home except for four purposes: to buy food and medicine, to exercise, to conduct essential work, or to receive medical care.

Schools will close in the Greater Brisbane region which includes five local government areas: Brisbane, Logan, Moreton Bay, Redlands, and Ipswich.

Masks will be compulsory everywhere, except for in the home. For the rest of the state, people will need to wear a mask if they cannot physically distance, are inside, or are on public transport.

Those in Brisbane will still be allowed to have up to two visitors in the home and will be permitted to exercise in a family group.

Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young also outlined new requirements for the rest of the state.

"We will also be limiting visits to aged care, to disability accommodation services, to hospitals, and to prisons, because they are the most vulnerable in our society, plus people can only have gatherings in their own home of up to 30 people in total," Young said, with regards to areas outside of Greater Brisbane.

"Anyone who is going out to dine or to go to pubs needs to be seated, so the one per two-square-metre requirement remains with that additional requirement that people must be seated. And that's very important because we know that reduces mingling."

The lockdown will be reviewed again on Wednesday night, ahead of the busy Easter long weekend.

The Premier understands the Prime Minister has agreed to halve international arrivals in Queensland as the state grapples with the highest rates of COVID-19 positive arrivals in hotel quarantine, particularly due to an influx of travellers from Papua New Guinea. 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says this lockdown is a protective measure and the right thing to do based on health advice.

"I do not take these measures lightly," says the Premier.

"This is the UK strain. It is highly infectious. We need to do this to avoid a longer lockdown.

"We've done this before, and we've got through it over those three days in the past, and if everyone does the right thing I'm sure that we will be able to get through it again."

Of the 10 new cases detected in Queensland overnight, six are overseas arrivals in hotel quarantine, while four are cases of community transmission.

Out of those four, two are known contacts to the previously identified 26-year-old man from the northern Brisbane suburb of Stafford who was infectious in the community from 19 May.

The remaining two cases are under investigation, but authorities believe one to be a nurse from the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane who worked in the COVID-19 ward. 

"What this says to us is the fact that there is now more community transmission, and these people have been out and about in the community," says the Premier.

"I didn't sleep last night, so I'm very worried."

Premier Palaszczuk has also urged people in Brisbane not to panic buy, noting the supermarkets will be loaded with supplies and will remain open as usual.

She has also encouraged employers to let staff go home early today if possible.

States and territories respond to the outbreak

Over the weekend Australian states and territories took different approaches to the COVID-19 outbreak in Brisbane, with some closing borders and others applying lighter restrictions.

More than 20,000 arrivals into New South Wales from QLD are being contacted, with authorities telling them to undergo a COVID-19 test and to self-isolate for 14 days if they have been to a venue of concern.

These venues are the locations identified by Queensland Health, which can be accessed via the state's dedicated portal, and include Black Hops Brewery in East Brisbane and Eatons Hill Hotel in Eatons Hill.

Victoria has deployed its traffic light permit system, labelling the local government areas (LGAs) of Brisbane and Moreton Bay as orange zones. This means travellers from those LGAs must apply for a permit to enter VIC.

In order to enter VIC, travellers must agree to the requirement of self-quarantine, get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival and remain isolated until a negative test result is received.

South Australia is requiring those who visited Brisbane in the past week to seek an urgent COVID-19 test and to isolate while awaiting results.

Any arrival from QLD into Western Australia must get tested for COVID-19 and self-quarantine for 14 days.

The Northern Territory is asking all arrivals who visited Brisbane or Moreton Bay to get tested. Those who have been told they are close contacts of a positive case must self-quarantine for 14 days.

All travellers into the Australian Capital Territory from Greater Brisbane since March 11 must self-isolate until a negative COVID-19 test is received.

While in Tasmania, anyone who has been in one of the designated locations by QLD Health cannot enter the state. Anyone currently in TAS that has been in any of the specified locations must self-isolate.

Further, anyone in TAS who has been in Brisbane or Moreton Bay on or after 8 March is asked to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

Updated at 9.56am AEDT on 29 March 2021.

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