‘Easter is good to go’: Brisbane lockdown to lift within hours

Testing has been boosted on the Gold Coast this week.

Testing has been boosted on the Gold Coast this week. Photo: AAP

The lockdown of greater Brisbane will end within hours, after just one more COVID case in the community on Thursday.

“That is good news for Queensland and Easter is good to go,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

From midday on Thursday (AEDT), more than 2.5 million residents in five of the city’s local government areas will be able to return to more normal life. However, some restrictions will remain for a further fortnight.

They include mandatory masks in shopping centres and supermarkets, indoor workplaces, public transport, seated service only in restaurants,  cafe and pubs.

“This is really important that we are doing this for the next two weeks because we are not out of the woods yet,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Home gatherings will be restricted to 30 people across Queensland while venues will also have restricted numbers – and dancing is banned.

“There are a lot of big events planned over Easter. They can still proceed if they have a COVID-safe plan in place, but if you are outdoors and you cannot socially distance, put a mask on. It’s as simple as that,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Thursday’s decision came after 34,711 COVID tests across Queensland on Monday. Chief health officer Jeannette Young described testing numbers as “astronomical”, and said they were a primary reason she could feel confident the state had its latest outbreak under control.

Queensland had 10 more virus infections on Thursday, nine of them in returned overseas travellers.

The lone community case is linked to one of the two virus clusters that sparked this week’s snap lockdown.

Dr Young said the latest patient had attended the hen’s party in Byron Bay that has been the source of 11 infections. They went into quarantine on their return to Queensland.

“They have been in quarantine during their infectious period – so, no risk at all,” she said.

“Definitely a linked case, but also that additional bonus that they’re in quarantine. And that was our one community-acquired case.”

Visitors to Queensland aged-care facilities, disability care facilities, hospitals and prisons will also remain severely restricted for at least the next fortnight, amid concerns about the vaccine rollout in the state.

“We need to keep our most vulnerable safe. The vaccine has not yet been rolled out for long enough to our aged care facilities and we know to not enough of them,” Dr Young said.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said only a third of the state’s aged-care
residents had been vaccinated so far, and almost no aged-care workers.

“Similarly, very, very few residents of support disability accommodation have been vaccinated and for those reasons, we need to maintain those lockdowns for 14 more days until those vaccination levels are increased,” he said.

Ms Palaszczuk said Queensland authorities had given 7596 coronavirus vaccines on Wednesday, and 79,534 since the program started. But she repeated the concerns of her NSW colleague, Gladys Berejiklian, in calling for the federal government to offer more information about how many shots it is giving.

“We give out our figures every day and it would be great to see the Commonwealth do exactly the same – transparency here,” she said.

There has been a roiling stoush between the states and the federal government about the glacial pace of Australia’s COVID vaccination program. On Wednesday, Ms Palaszczuk and other state officials denied federal government claims that Queensland had been slow with jabs because it was stockpiling doses for second shots.

Elsewhere, Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital remains at the centre of dramatic efforts to ensure the coronavirus does not spread further.

Staff who have worked in its coronavirus ward 5D are being tested.

Any workers who set foot inside the ward from March 23-26 have also been ordered to enter two weeks of quarantine, even if they weren’t directly involved in patient care.

The quarantine directive is expected to affect large numbers of hospital staff, and further disrupt clinical services.

No fresh cases for New South Wales

NSW Health has added one new locally acquired case of coronavirus to its daily tally. 

The positive case, a man in his 20s, had already been reported on Wednesday

There have been no additional cases of COVID-19 recorded in the NSW community overnight.

Virus restrictions remain in place for four local government areas, those are Tweed, Ballina, Byron and Lismore.

Under the newly introduced rules, masks are mandatory in shops and all public indoor settings as well as on public transport. 

-with AAP

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