‘No one will trust Qld’: Warning as new hot spot declared
Queensland has declared Sydney's Northern Beaches a hotspot, forcing anyone who has travelled there in the past week into quarantine as the latest coronavirus cluster in the Harbour City threatens to spiral out of control.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young last night applied restrictions to the area effective immediately, instructing any Queenslanders who had been there since December 11 to isolate at home for 14 days from the date they left there and come forward for testing.
And anyone who was in the Northern Beaches since December 11 and arrives in Queensland on a flight from Sydney from after 1am Saturday will have to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days at their own expense and get tested.
The number of infections linked to the Sydney cluster yesterday rose to 17. With 250,000 residents of Sydney advised to stay at home, Queensland police last night were preparing to re-establish border blockades at a moment's notice.
There are growing concerns that NSW case numbers could rise sharply as some of the infected patients could have come into close contact with dozens of people.
That could lead to further hard decisions on the status of Queensland's borders, which reopened to Sydney and Victoria only 18 days ago.
The move to declare the Northern Beaches a hot spot will throw Christmas holiday plans into turmoil for thousands of travellers, with other states also considering whether to impose new restrictions.
WA has already called for any arrivals from Sydney since December 11 to isolate until they return a negative test for COVID-19.
The Northern Territory CHO also declared the Northern Beaches a hot spot last night, instructing anyone arriving in the state from midnight to enter two weeks' mandatory quarantine. And the Victorian government will not rule out closing the border with NSW before Christmas.
It comes as Queensland tourism leaders had warned another border closure would destroy the industry for years, having urged the state government to hold its nerve.
Earlier, the Queensland CHO said it was an evolving situation, warning the next 24 hours would be critical in suppressing the risk of an outbreak.
Dr Young had urged anyone who has plans to visit Greater Sydney, in particular the Northern Beaches region, to consider the risk of those areas becoming a hotspot.
"NSW has issued a number of public health alerts, where the recently confirmed cases have been while infectious," she said. "It's vital that anyone who has been in the Northern Beaches region, especially in any of the venues listed in the NSW public health alerts, follows the health advice issued by NSW."
For the next three days, Northern Beaches locals have been asked to work from home and stay at home as much as possible.
After dismantling border checkpoints on December 1, police were prepared to put the barriers straight back up with 24 hours' notice.
Accommodation Association of Australia chief executive Dean Long said border closures would be "another, if not the final, blow to at least 3000-5000 jobs in Queensland".
"If the border closes, those bookings don't come back," he said.
"It will have a long-term impact on people's decision-making for winter because there won't be any confidence left in the consumer or corporate market to book ahead for more than 24 hours in advance.
"No one will holiday in Queensland because no one will trust the Government to hold the border open.
"The decision they're going to make (about the borders) will have ramifications for the next 12 to 24 months."
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham urged against knee-jerk reaction from states.
"Nobody wants to take any chances with the safety of Australians and the suppression of COVID, (but) we equally don't want to see huge jolts of uncertainty come across the economy by reactions … taken before all the facts are available," he said.
"I would urge caution, follow the facts, follow the evidence.
"It is still very early days in NSW and they have demonstrated time and time again that they have the capabilities to get on top of outbreaks."
Originally published as 'No one will trust Qld': Warning as new hot spot declared