Easter holiday plans in chaos after Qld COVID outbreak
Queensland's growing COVID cluster has thrown holiday plans into chaos with NSW residents urged not to go to Brisbane for the Easter long weekend.
The Sunshine State's capital was thrown into a three-day-lockdown yesterday afternoon to control a growing COVID cluster which increased by four on Monday.
Health alerts were issued for two Byron Bay venues visited by two positive COVID cases from the Brisbane cluster.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said would-be holiday-makers "shouldn't go to Greater Brisbane," while telling people to "reconsider" travel to other parts of the Sunshine State.
"Our message to everybody in New South Wales who was considering going to greater Brisbane over Easter is: please change your plans," Ms Berejiklian said.
The missive could see more than 10,000 Sydneysiders who were due to fly into Brisbane this weekend forced to change their plans at the last minute.
Despite the recommendation to change travel plans, the NSW government did not declare Greater Brisbane as a "hotspot" area as Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had suggested.
"I'll follow the health advice rather than the advice of my political colleagues," the Premier said.
"We are not shutting down our border," Ms Berejiklian said.
However, extra checks have been put in place for people coming into the state from Brisbane.
Victoria and South Australia yesterday slammed their borders shut to Greater Brisbane, while WA's hard border was reinstated to the entire state of Queensland.
Chief health officer Kerry Chant said it was likely additional venues attended by the two cases would be identified.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Brad Hazzard yesterday announced Brisbane residents would not be welcome at Byron Bay's Bluesfest music festival amid the increased COVID risk.
"Don't come," he said.
"I've spoken to the organisers and I understand arrangements are being put in place for refunds," he said.
The travel chaos comes at one of the busiest days of the year for airlines.
A Qantas spokeswoman said the airline was "watching the situation in Brisbane closely" but hasn't made any flight changes yet.
"Qantas and Jetstar are offering increased flexibility for passengers who have bookings impacted by border restrictions, including the option to change travel dates or receive a flight credit," she said.
Yesterday morning, Queenslanders holidaying in Sydney made last ditch efforts to return home before the 5pm lockdown.
Couple Jess Briguglio and Robert McGowan were torn between going back for the lockdown or extending their stay in Sydney.
The pair had been staying in Sydney since Friday, but were eager to ensure they would be back with family to celebrate the Easter weekend.
"We've also got two fur babies we need to look after, dogs and cats and all that kind of stuff," Ms Briguglio said.
"We will be back in NSW as soon as we can. This is a second home for us for the most part.
"We like to come here as much as we can, and this was the first time we had been back since all of COVID-19 happened."
But luckily for husband and wife Richard and Tammy Truong, and their two sons Hugo, 3, and Beau, 2, their four day trip to Sydney was always planned to finish up on Monday before heading back home.
However, Mrs Truong - an essential worker- will be one of thousands who won't be able to stay home and instead arrive straight back into work.
"We weren't planning on the lockdown or going back to one," she said.
"Our trip we booked today was exactly to plan. We seem to dodge COVID-19 every time we go away. Last time we went to Cairns and it ended in lockdown and now this time."
Slow vaccine rollout fuels risk of future snap lockdowns
Queensland has only put just over half of its allocated vaccines into peoples' arms, amid fears a slow national rollout increases the chance of snap lockdowns due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has repeatedly said supply of vaccines is "dictating" the pace of the rollout, however figures he announced on Monday show Queensland has only administered about 59,000 of its 106,000 available doses as of this week.
Queensland now has seven locally acquired COVID-19 cases, including one historic case believed to be the link between this cluster and a doctor who tested positive earlier this month.
Mr Hunt said this "small group" did not warrant a Commonwealth hotspot declaration, and Brisbane was not being considered for priority COVID-19 vaccine delivery to contain the outbreak.
"There are very significant vaccines already, pre-positioned with Queensland and the Queensland Government has a large inventory that they are capable of drawing upon," he said.
Queensland has allocated an additional 65,000 doses this week on top of the more than 47,000 left over from previous deliveries it is yet to use.
Nationally there have been about 541,761 vaccines distributed so far, including more than 120,000 by General Practitioners who came online for Phase 1B a week ago.
Several weeks ago the government claimed to have 1.3 million vaccines onshore in Australia, even if half of those were retained as second doses - which have already begun - the rate of the rollout has not kept up with available supply.
As the rollout ticks over into its second month, 82,500 residents have now been vaccinated, with 795 nursing homes receiving their first dose and 222 receiving the second.
Mr Hunt said the fact there had been 259,000 vaccinations in the last week alone was testament to the work of GPs.
"I think that's extremely important, and that's an indication that this program is continuing to accelerate, as it will this week," he said.
Originally published as Easter holiday plans in chaos after Qld COVID outbreak