City streets deserted as Brisbane officially enters lockdown
Greater Brisbane is now in lockdown for three days and masks are mandatory for the entire state after 10 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Queensland overnight.
The lockdown includes the council areas of Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Logan, Redlands and Ipswich but the state government on Monday afternoon confirmed the newly announced mask mandate will be in place in all areas across the state.
SCROLL DOWN FOR QLD HEALTH MASK MANDATE
It will mean every Queenslander will have to carry a mask with them when they leave the home and will have to wear them in indoor environments, such as shopping centres and workplaces.
The mandate is different from the one that was in place during the January lockdown, when mask wearing was only a requirement in the Greater Brisbane region.
Those who refuse a police direction to wear a mask can be given an on-the-spot fine of $200 by police, an infringement notice or a notice to appear in court.
😷 Mask requirements across Queensland are coming into effect from 5pm today (Monday 29 March).— Queensland Health (@qldhealthnews) March 29, 2021
You must carry a face mask with you at all times when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to.
For information about mask requirements visit: https://t.co/P6cgMiMn9S pic.twitter.com/cEqdPlF7bp
The mask requirement will kick in from 5pm today, and comes as health officials grapple with a new COVID cluster - with four new community-acquired cases announced today. Another six cases were confirmed as being acquired in hotel quarantine.
The six hotel quarantine-acquired cases prompted the Premier to cut international arrivals.
Masks will not need to be worn while driving in private motor vehicles and won't be a requirement for children under the age of 12.
Health officials are recommending Queenslanders wear their mask while they are outside if they are unable to stay 1.5m away from people - such as on a busy footpath.
Mask wearing will be mandatory on public transport, taxis, rideshare vehicles, in places of worship, hospitality venues, libraries and indoor recreational facilities that remain open outside the Greater Brisbane region.
The four new locally acquired cases are part of the latest cluster of the highly contagious UK strain that re-emerged late last week.
One of the new cases had travelled to Gladstone from March 25 to 28, putting Central Queensland on alert.
One of the local cases is believed to be a nurse from the PA Hospital who had worked in the COVID ward. She has been on leave and had not received a COVID-19 vaccination.
The Greater Brisbane lockdown means schools will close, except to vulnerable children, or the children of essential workers.
"There's been more community transmission and these people have been out and about in the community," said Ms Palaszczuk who warned a large number of venues had been visited by the infected people.
"Our schools will close from tomorrow.
"It will enable our health authorities to get on top of the contact tracing.
"I know this will mean some disruption to people's lives. But we've done this before.
"Let's do it now and let's do it right."
Ms Palaszczuk said she was very worried.
"I didn't sleep last night, I am very worried, very concerned," she said.
Ms Palaszczuk said it was a tough decision with Easter and the school holidays on the horizon.
People can leave home for essential work, to look after a vulnerable person, for exercise and to buy food. They have been urged not to panic buy.
Jury trials will be suspended and defendants in magistrates court matters will not have to appear in person during this week's lockdown.
Magistrates courts in Brisbane, Beenleigh, Cleveland, Holland Park, Ipswich, Pine Rivers, Redcliffe, Richlands, Sandgate, Wynnum, Caboolture will close their registries to the public from this afternoon.
During the three-day lockdown, physical appearances will not be required and all matters will be heard via telephone or video conference and all hearings will be adjourned.
The District and Supreme courts in Brisbane, Beenleigh and Ipswich will cease empanelling new juries and only one current active trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court will continue during lockdown.
Sentences in these courts will proceed by video link if prisons do not move into stage four lockdowns.
Masks must be worn at all times in court buildings, except for at the direction of a judge when a proceeding is under way.
Ms Palaszczuk confirmed Queensland's latest cluster was the highly contagious UK variant and said the lockdown was the "right thing to do based on the health advice".
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the sister of the Princess Alexandra Hospital nurse had also acquired the infection.
"We now have significant community transmission," she said.
"This is happening very, very quickly, it's evolving."
Queensland has 73 active cases of the COVID-19 virus.
The Princess Alexandra Hospital nurse working in a COVID-19 ward and her sister are among the four new cases.
They had recently travelled to Byron Bay in Northern NSW while unknowingly infectious with the virus.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young is awaiting genomic sequencing results to be able to link them to a PA Hospital doctor who tested positive on March 12 to the highly contagious UK variant.
The doctor had assessed a COVID-19 case detected in quarantine at the Hotel Grand Chancellor.
The two other new cases are linked to a Stafford landscaper, his brother and a friend from Strathpine, who have also tested positive as part of Queensland's latest cluster. They are understood to be colleagues of one of the infected men.
Their cases have been connected to the PA doctor through genomic sequencing.
One of the four new cases had travelled to Gladstone in Central Queensland, where he spent the past three days.
Of Queensland's 73 active cases, two are receiving intensive care.
It means the new Brisbane cluster has grown to seven people.
Dr Young said anyone who has been in the Greater Brisbane area since March 20 was urged to follow the lock down restrictions, even if they are outside the region.
Greater Brisbane 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.
Gathering numbers at homes will be slashed to 30 people in all areas of Queensland outside of Greater Brisbane.
Everyone outside of the Greater Brisbane area is being urged to wear a mask when they cannot socially distance.
There have been more than 11,000 tests in the 24 hours to this morning.
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said mask wearing in the Greater Brisbane area would be mandatory, but has urged people not to confront people who are not wearing one, saying that should be left to the compliance officers.
"We want everyone to do their part. It is mandatory unless you have a health reason to not wear that mask," she said.
Ms D'Ath said contract tracers were working hard to get information about where the latest cases may have visited while unknowingly infectious with the virus.
Ms Palaszczuk said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had accepted her request to halve the numbers of international arrivals into Queensland, based on the cluster.
She said lockdowns would continue to be a part of the Australian way of life until the population was vaccinated.
"Hopefully, fingers crossed, like our last three-day lockdown, it gave our contract tracers the ability to get on top of everything," she said.
The latest outbreak has increased the number of people getting tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in Queensland.
In the past 24 hours, Queensland pathology laboratories performed 11,626 tests for SARS-CoV-2, taking the total number since the pandemic began to more than 2.14 million.
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath thanked people for continuing to come forward for testing.
"Can I just remind people again, no matter where you are in Queensland, or if you have been travelling in Queensland since Saturday, March 20, and you have been in Greater Brisbane, if you have any symptoms whatsoever, please get tested," Mr D'Ath said.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 1456 cases of SARS-CoV-2 have been confirmed in Queensland, including 1140 that were acquired overseas.
The lockdown announcement, just days out from the Easter break, has come as a blow to business owners.
Gold Coast Tourism CEO Patricia O'Callaghan said the lockdown was a 'heartbreaking and devastating' blow for local tourism operators and pleaded with interstate holidaymakers not to cancel their bookings.
Ms O'Callaghan said the Easter holidays were shaping as 'critical' for the industry's recovery from COVID-19 and operators now feared another hit if the lockdown is extended.
"Obviously this is heartbreaking for our industry and a devastating time," she said.
"But we've been down this path before and we're putting our confidence behind the Queensland health system and their contact tracing.
"We're hoping to get through this swiftly and that the lockdown will only last three days and travel restrictions will be lifted in time for Easter.
"We're pleading with all of our visitors to keep their bookings at this stage."
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel said his region faced a 'significant impact' from the lockdown.
He said the Coast was enjoying more direct flights than it had pre-pandemic - thanks in part to the Federal Government's recent half-price airfare deal - but the lockdown threatened to smash traveller confidence.
Mr Stoeckel said most of the North Coast's visitors also came from the Brisbane region.
"The Brisbane lockdown will have a significant impact on the Sunshine Coast's tourism industry, as its timing comes in the lead up to our peak Easter holiday period," he said.
"Operators across the Sunshine Coast had secured strong bookings for this period, with the majority of bookings from the Greater Brisbane market.
"The announcement may also impact visitor confidence from interstate markets for the upcoming break as well."
MASK CLARIFICATION FROM QUEENSLAND HEALTH: FOR ALL OF QUEENSLAND
Masks for Queensland (all of Queensland including Greater Brisbane)
You must carry a face mask with you at all times when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to.
You must wear a mask in indoor spaces, such as:
shopping centres, supermarkets, retail outlets and indoor markets
hospitals and aged care facilities
hospitality venues such as restaurants and cafés (not required for patrons while seated; customer facing staff only)
churches and places of worship
indoor recreational facilities and gyms (except if doing strenuous exercise*)
indoor workplaces (where safe to wear a mask and you can't physically distance)
public transport, taxis and rideshare, including waiting areas and queues for this transport
airports and travelling on planes.
It is strongly recommended you wear a mask when outdoors if you are unable to stay more than 1.5m distance from other people, such as busy walkways and thoroughfares.
Masks do not need to be worn in some circumstances, including children under 12 years, where people have certain medical conditions, and in workplaces where it is not safe to do so.
You can remove your masks to consume food or drink.
*Strenuous exercise is exercise in or above the aerobic zone including high-intensity interval training, cycling, running.
GREATER BRISBANE LOCKDOWN
From 5pm 29 March 2021, people who have been in the greater Brisbane region since the 20 March 2021 will be subject to home confinement restrictions. The impacted Local Government Areas are:
City of Brisbane
City of Ipswich
Moreton Bay Region
Anyone who has been in these areas on or since 20 March must follow the restrictions listed below.
Originally published as WATCH LIVE: Premier, CHO to provide COVID update