Greater Brisbane has been battling with a small cluster of the virus for the past few weeks and now to stop any potential further spreading, the authorities have declared a snap three-day lockdown.
Greater Brisbane will enter a three-day lockdown from 5pm this afternoon after recording four new locally acquired infections in the past 24 hours. Schools will shut and people will only be able to go out for four essential reasons.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today said the new cases included six cases acquired overseas and four cases via community transmission.
“What this means for Greater Brisbane is that we will have to go into a three-day lockdown,” the Premier told reporters on Monday.
“This is the UK strain. It is highly infectious. Now we need to do this now to avoid a longer lockdown.”
The lockdown will affect Greater Brisbane, which includes Brisbane, Logan, Moreton Bay, Ipswich and Redlands
Schools will close from Tuesday to enable health authorities to get on top of contact tracing efforts, the premier said.
People will only be allowed to leave home for four essential purposes: for food, for exercise, essential work and for medical reasons.
Residents can have up to two visitors to their home and can go out and exercise in a family group or if they’re solo, with one other person from a different family group.
Anyone who has been in the Greater Brisbane area since Saturday, March 20 must now follow those same requirements.
One of the cases had travelled to Gladstone, and two had been in Byron Bay while infectious, sparking concerns about wider transmission.
As a result, masks will be compulsory for Greater Brisbane and the rest of Queensland. They must be worn indoors, on public transport, in ride-sharing vehicles and where physical distancing is not possible.
Home gatherings outside of Brisbane will also be limited to 30 people.
“This is a huge job now that we have to do because we’ve got more of this community transmission,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“I know this will mean some disruption to people’s lives, but 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 we will be able to get through it again.”
The premier said the move was essential to prevent further transmission.
“We‘ve seen what’s happened in other countries. I don’t want to see that happen to Queensland. I don’t want to see that happen to Australia. I know it is a really big call. I know it is really tough,” she said.
“We have Easter coming up, we have school holidays coming up but let‘s do it now and let’s do it right and let’s see if we can come through it at the other end.
“This is a protective measure but it’s absolutely the right thing to do based on the health advice.”
The restrictions will be reviewed on Wednesday night and hopefully, the lockdown will not be extended, else there is a risk of disrupting the upcoming Easter holidays for many Australians.
By Joe Cusmano