Greater Brisbane will go into to a three-day snap lockdown from 5pm Monday, after authorities detected four new locally acquired coronavirus cases.
The state’s chief health officer, Jeannette Young, described the growing cluster of seven cases as “significant community transmission” of the UK variant of the virus and warned people to stay at home in the coming days.
Of the four cases announced on Monday morning, two are colleagues of a 26-year-old landscaper from Stafford in Brisbane’s north who tested positive on Thursday night.
One is a nurse, who worked at the Covid-19 ward at the Princess Alexandra Hospital at South Brisbane, but she has been on leave and not received a vaccination. Authorities are “not sure” whether that is how she was infected. The final new case is the nurse’s sister.
The lockdown will reinstate provisions that only allow people to leave their home for essential reasons, such as grocery shopping, work if they cannot work from home or medical care.
Schools will be closed. Masks will be mandatory outside of the home.
It is the second time this year greater Brisbane – which includes the Logan, Ipswich, Redlands and Moreton Bay council areas – has been subject to a snap lockdown.
The announcement of measures five days after the detection of the first case, and communication bungles by Queensland Health – who wrongly claimed that a man held a house party after being told to isolate – appear out of step with previous, decisive moves by state authorities to close borders and introduce restrictions.
Authorities said one of the newly acquired cases visited the central Queensland city of Gladstone from 25 March to 28 March. Two of the cases – the nurse and her sister – are understood to have visited Byron Bay while contagious. They attended a number of venues in the Byron Bay area – including the Byron Beach Hotel and The Farm Byron Bay – from Friday 26 March to Sunday 28 March before returning to Queensland.
“This is going to be part of the Australian way of life until everyone is vaccinated,” the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“So by today declaring that greater Brisbane a hotspot, I’m asking all other state and territory leaders to do exactly the same and hopefully, fingers crossed, like our last three-day lockdown it [will give] our contact tracers the opportunity to get on top of everything.
“This is a huge job now that we have to do because we’ve got more of this community transmission. 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 that we will be able to get through it again.
“Can I also please put out to everybody, please do not go and panic buy.
“The supermarkets, the shops, are full of supplies and you will still be able to go out and get food as part of this lockdown. So please don’t go out and panic buy today. The food shops will operate as per usual.”
Young said anyone who has been in the Brisbane region since 20 March – nine days ago – should follow the same protocols as residents.