More than two million residents across greater Brisbane are holding their breath as they wait to hear if the region’s three-day lockdown will end as planned at 5pm on Thursday or if Easter holiday celebrations will be thrown into disarray.
Health authorities will decide on Thursday morning whether to ease restrictions in time for the holiday break.
Queensland had two cases of community transmission on Wednesday, down from six local infections on Monday.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the fact all cases had been linked was “encouraging” and she had her “fingers crossed” that the lockdown would not be extended over Easter.
“If we see very good testing rates across Queensland again, and we don’t see any unlinked community transmission, the signs for Easter are looking positive,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“If it’s encouraging news … we will be lifting the hotspot for Greater Brisbane.”
She said Queensland had recorded “probably our highest” testing numbers yet, with more than 33,000 people screened in the last reporting period.
Easter plans must wait
Like many residents across Greater Brisbane, Donna Maher is hoping for good news on Thursday.
She was supposed to travel to Fraser Island with her two young sons earlier, but those plans have been put on ice.
“I’m half packed but then, not completely – I figured I’d just do what I can,” Ms Maher said.
“I think all Queenslanders are really ready for the Easter break, so crossing fingers for all of us that we do get to go away.
“The boys love surfing so we’ll be able to hopefully catch a few waves.”
The lockdown has been devastating for the state’s tourism industry, with operators experiencing mass cancellations this week from interstate and south-east Queensland travellers.
The Byron Bay Bluesfest, which was due to open on Thursday, has been called off after a local COVID-19 infection was detected.
The case has been traced to the Byron Beach Hotel, which an infected visitor from Brisbane attended last week.
Churches prepare to live stream services
Churches across Greater Brisbane have been scrambling to put contingency plans in place in case traditional Easter services cannot go ahead.
Brisbane Anglican Archbishop Phillip Aspinall said he was hopeful restrictions would be lifted in time for the important holy season.
“There is a sense of strength and joy that comes from being together to be able to celebrate Easter,” Archbishop Aspinall said.
“Plan B is that we can’t go to church, or only very few people can, in which case we would live stream our services from the cathedral and other parish churches.”
Easter services were locked down in 2020, forcing Archbishop Aspinall to preach alone in Brisbane’s St John’s Cathedral.
“It’s a bit of an eerie feeling being in an empty cathedral, so I hope people will be able to attend this year,” he said.
Several large sporting events due to be held in Brisbane are also up in the air, including the Australian Youth Water Polo Championships and Swimming Australia’s national age championships.
“We will provide further updates once more information is available, with relevant government advice and the health and safety of athletes, coaches, officials and staff paramount in any decision making,” a Swimming Australia spokeswoman said.