South-east Queensland will enter its strictest lockdown of the pandemic for three days, starting at 4pm on Saturday, after the state recorded six new locally acquired cases of Covid-19.
The stay-at-home orders will apply across 11 local government in the south-east, including Brisbane City, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
The deputy premier, Steven Miles, said the lockdown was necessary due to the transmissibility of the Delta strain, with authorities warning there would be an “enormous number” of exposure sites from the current outbreak.
It is believed the outbreak is linked to a leak from hotel quarantine.
“We received the advice of the chief health officer, and the premier has ordered that we move strongly and implement all of the restrictions advised by the chief health officer,” Miles said. “We must go hard and go early.
“This will be the strictest lockdown that we have had.”
Under the lockdown, people in the affected LGAs will not be permitted to have visitors to their homes and non-essential businesses will close. Hospitality venues will be restricted to takeaway only.
A 10km radius limit will apply for people leaving home for shopping or exercise and for the first time in Queensland masks have been mandated for students and staff at high school.
Those under lockdown can only leave home:
to obtain essential goods such as groceries and medications
for essential work, school or childcare
to exercise with a maximum of one other person from another household
to get health care or provide care to another person
or get vaccinated or tested.
The six new cases recorded on Saturday take the current outbreak in Queensland to nine cases of the Delta strain.
The new cases reported on Saturday are linked to a 17-year-old female Indooroopilly State High School student who tested positive on Thursday.
The student’s parents and two siblings have also contracted the virus, as has a medical student who tutors her. The sixth new case is a staff member at Ironside state school, where one of the siblings is a student.
The chief health officer, Jeannette Young, said she expected “an enormous number of exposure sites all through Brisbane and probably as well through the Sunshine Coast and further”.
Young said the medical student had attended Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, at the University of Queensland, and the the Translational Research Institute at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.
“And also she has a sibling who works in a hospital so we are urgently working through all of those,” Young said.
Schools, as well as childcare, will only be open for the parents of essential workers during the lockdown.
Young said genome sequencing pointed to a leak from hotel quarantine.
“I still don’t have the direct link from one of those two cases through to these new seven cases, but I know through whole genome sequencing that that is where the transmission has occurred,” she said.
Miles flagged the government would provide further support for businesses, but said the lockdown was necessary to avoid broader damage to the economy.
“We know that that’s the best way for businesses to recover, the best way to keep people in work, the best way to keep our economy going,” he said.
“But we also acknowledge that this lockdown has come not long after the last one, and that’s why for this lockdown we will seek to have a compensation package in place. We will work through the details of that today.”
Brisbane only ended its last lockdown at the start of July.
Saturdays’s lockdown came only a day after national cabinet agreed that short, sharp lockdowns would be required to combat the Delta strain.
“We have seen from the experience in other states that the only way to beat the Delta strain is to move quickly, to be fast, and to be strong,” Miles said. “That is now the nationally agreed approach.”
Miles said he hoped the lockdown would be short.
“It is our intention that this is a short lockdown and that we can deal with this outbreak within days,” he said.
He also urged residents against panic buying.
“Grocery stores will stay open throughout the lockdown,” he said. “So, please don’t think that you need to rush to get essential items. You will be permitted to leave your homes for essential items. Please don’t rush out to grocery stores.”
Those who do not live within 10km of a supermarket will be able to travel beyond the travel limit to go shopping.
The 11 LGAs affected by the lockdown are: Brisbane City; Moreton Bay; Gold Coast; Ipswich; Lockyer Valley; Logan City; Noosa Shire; Redland City; Scenic Rim; Somerset and Sunshine Coast.
Three AFL games that were scheduled in Queensland this weekend have been postponed following the lockdown announcement. St George Illawarra’s NRL clash with South Sydney, which was to have been played in Rockhampton on Saturday at 3pm, will also be rescheduled.
The Super Netball competition is also facing issues with three games scheduled for Monday and Tuesday that will have to be rescheduled.