More Travel Bans on NSW Virus Hotspots

By AAP
July 23, 2020 Updated: July 23, 2020

The Sydney suburb of Fairfield has been added to Queensland’s list of COVID-19 hotspots while the Northern Territory government has added Port Stephens as coronavirus cases continue to rise in NSW.

People from Fairfield, along with those from Liverpool, Campbelltown and the state of Victoria who travel into Queensland from Monday will be directed to hotel quarantine for 14 days at their own expense.

This include those who have spent any time in the suburbs, not just those who live in them. 

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner declared Port Stephens a coronavirus hotspot on Thursday, meaning anyone who has been there in the past 14 days must undergo two weeks of supervised quarantine upon arrival in the NT at their own cost, or return home.

An aged care facility in Sydney’s inner west has been closed to visitors after a staff member tested positive to COVID-19, with NSW reporting 19 new cases of the virus.

Two NSW Hunter schools, a childcare centre and a supermarket and cafe have also undergone deep cleaning after being exposed to a person with the coronavirus.

NSW Health began testing staff and residents at Ashfield Baptist Homes on Wednesday and the aged care facility is expected to remain closed until at least July 31.

The staff member dined on July 12 at Thai Rock restaurant at Stockland Mall Wetherill Park—a cluster associated with 46 cases to date.

“The risk to other staff and residents is considered to be very low as the staff member wore masks, gloves and gowns when working with residents and did not work while symptomatic,” a NSW Health spokeswoman said in a statement on Wednesday. 

An Ashfield Baptist Homes spokeswoman on Wednesday confirmed the staff member worked three shifts after visiting the restaurant, and residents’ families were able to arrange access to loved ones “on a case by case compassionate basis”.

In the NSW Hunter, Tomaree Public School and High School and Goodstart childcare centre at Anna Bay will be closed for contact tracing and cleaning after three new COVID-19 cases in the area were linked to a 60-year-old man connected to Thai Rock.

Virus-positive cases also attended the Woolworths supermarket at Salamander Bay Village and Fingal Bay Cafe and Takeaway, with both venues undergoing cleaning.

“I understand all three new cases are connected with our first case, the 60-year-old man who was in contact with a visitor from Sydney,” Port Stephens state MP Kate Washington posted on her Facebook page on Wednesday.

NSW recorded 19 new cases in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, including three in hotel quarantine, with almost 25,000 COVID-19 tests conducted.

A cluster associated with the Crossroads Hotel in Casula has grown to 56 after three new cases were reported on Thursday.

Three other cases recorded on Thursday remain under investigation by NSW Health.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian this week implored residents to avoid crowds and limit non-essential travel over the coming weeks, but said mask use in public would not yet be mandated.

She also said NSW businesses are on notice as a new suite of COVID-19 measures come into place for hospitality venues from Friday.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Thursday told reporters that businesses had been given plenty of time to adjust to the new changes, which include mandatory sign-ins and COVID-safe plans, a cap of 300 people and maximum group bookings of 10.

Caps for private indoor and outdoor gatherings in NSW remain at 20.

“The advice we took from health indicated people needed a little time to work through that,” Hazzard said.

“I would say to hotels, clubs and restaurants and cafes, please adhere to the rules, they’re very clear. You each have COVID-safe plans, stick to it.”

Australian Medical Association NSW president Danielle McMullen said the next two weeks would be pivotal in NSW’s attempts to halt the virus’ spread.

“Everyone is feeling the fatigue from this pandemic, but we’ve got to keep our guard up,” McMullen said in a statement on Thursday.

By Angelo Risso and Ashlea Witoslawski