Queenslanders Frolic as Restrictions Ease

By AAP
May 16, 2020 Updated: May 16, 2020

Queensland health officials have breathed a sigh of relief after initial COVID-19 testing at an aged care home, where an infected nurse was working, came back negative.

The good news comes as cafes, public parks and playgrounds buzzed with activity after restrictions were eased across the state.

Restaurants and cafes can now have up to 10 people dining in, while groups of 10 can gather outside for recreation as the state emerges from isolation.

“It is great to see some familiar faces returning,” Coffee Club manager Kaili Yang said as she took orders from a pair of jovial regular customers at their favourite table.

The Brisbane cafe in the leafy inner-city suburb of Ascot was among the many that opened their doors to customers on May 16.

The eased restrictions also saw exercise classes returning to the city’s New Farm Park, where fitness trainer Chris Tuck coached his first group in 10 weeks.

“It’s awesome to be back together again feeding off each other’s energy,” he said of the six people he had just finished training.

Many families were also out and about as children revelled in reopened playgrounds that had been closed to control the spread of the virus.

“She is loving it,” mother-of-two Jo Williams said as she pushed her four-year-old daughter Hannah on a swing in the same park.

“Both the kids have missed the outdoor activity and interacting with children.”

A maximum of 10 people can now also attend a wedding, while up to 20 are permitted at indoor funerals, and 30 at those held outside.

Road trips are also back on the agenda with residents allowed to travel up to 150km from home, increasing to 500km for those in the outback.

Meanwhile, 193 people have been tested for COVID-19 in central Queensland after a nurse working at an aged care facility was diagnosed with the disease on Friday.

All tested negative, including 114 residents at the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre where the nurse worked.

Health minister Steven Miles said low-risk residents would be moved from the home so that residents from the wing where the infected nurse was working could be spread out to further reduce the risk of infection.

“We are taking the risks here very very seriously,” he said.

It comes as Queensland recorded just one new case overnight after a passenger from the Coral Princess cruise ship tested positive. It brings the total number of cases to 1055.

Just 13 remain active, five of which are in hospital with three in intensive care. Six Queenslanders have died from the virus.

Miles said the continued low number of new cases – which were mostly people returning from overseas – suggested the first round of easing on social distancing measures two weeks ago had not led to increased transmission of the virus.

“That gives us great confidence going into today,” he said.

Chief health officer Jeannette Young said the Rockhampton infection highlighted why the community needed to stay vigilant.

She said the eased social distancing restrictions could allow the virus to spread more easily in the community.

“Which is why we – all 5.1 million Queenslanders – must every morning when they get up think, have they got any symptoms,” she said.

“If you do, stay home and go and get tested.”

By Aaron Bunch in Brisbane