Millions of Queensland residents in 11 local government areas (LGA) have been forced into a snap three-day lockdown after six new locally acquired cases of the CCP virus were confirmed in the Australian state.
“We must go hard and go fast,” QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a statement on Saturday. “I know this will impact on many families but there is no alternative.”
The snap lockdown begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 31, and encompasses Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan City, Moreton Bay, Redlands, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Noosa, Somerset, Lockyer Valley, and Scenic Rim.
The lockdown is due to end at 4 p.m. next Tuesday. “This will be the strictest lockdown that we have had,” QLD Deputy Premier Steven Miles told reporters on Saturday morning.
The premier’s statement said that the strong measures announced on Saturday go further than previous lockdowns because the Delta strain was “more dangerous.”
Residents in the affected lockdown areas can only leave home for essential work, study or child care, to exercise, buy food and supplies, and to receive healthcare, including being tested for COVID-19 or vaccinated against it.
Even so, residents are restricted to travelling within a 10km radius of their home even for the essential purposes of buying foods and medications.
Any non-essential travel must be within 10km from home and everyone must wear a mask when they are outside their home.
People doing exercise can do so with one person who does not live with them.
Funerals and weddings in the lockdown zone will be limited to 10 people and hospitality will go to takeaway only. Non-essential businesses and venues such as cinemas, hairdressers, gyms, and places of worship have to close.
The lockdown also extends to anyone who was in one of the 11 LGAs as of 1 a.m. Saturday, so even if they are in another part of Queensland they must abide by the same restrictions.
All schools in the lockdown zone will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, while all staff and students of Indooroopilly High School and Ironside State School are in quarantine for two weeks.
Schools will be open on Monday and Tuesday for the children of essential workers and for children who are vulnerable.
The six new cases are linked to a 17-year-old Indooroopilly High School student who contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
The six new community-acquired cases are made up of the 17-year-old’s tutor, her two parents and two siblings, as well as a staff member at Ironside State School, which the family’s youngest child attends.
They all have the CCP virus Delta strain.
Miles said the Queensland government would work through the details of a compensation package on Saturday, given that the new lockdown was coming so soon after the last.
QLD Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young suspects the 17-year-old female high school student’s tutor, a medical student, was the index case of the outbreak, and had likely brought the virus into the student’s home and high school.
The medical student had been at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, the University of Queensland, and the Translational Research Institute at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Young said.
The young woman, who Young said had visited a lot of locations, also has a sibling who works in a hospital.
“I expect there are going to be an enormous number of exposure sites all through Brisbane and probably as well through the Sunshine Coast and further,” Young said.
She urged residents in the southeast region to change their social plans and start abiding by the lockdown immediately rather than waiting until 4 p.m.
Queensland police reminded the community that failure to comply could incur a $1,378 fine.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Sydney radio station 2GB on Saturday the Queensland outbreak of the CCP virus Delta strain is concerning and required a fast response.
“Once it gets going it is very hard to get back in the box as we are seeing in NSW,” he said.
The snap lockdown has thrown the NRL into chaos, prompting urgent talks with the Queensland government to seek an exemption to play a remaining five matches in the state this weekend.
Queensland Health has confirmed the lockdown includes professional sports matches, meaning the NRL will not be able to go on without another exemption.
Exposure sites can be viewed at qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19/current-status/contact-tracing
Australian Associated Press contributed to this report.