Greater Brisbane will be entering a three-day lockdown following the discovery of a Queensland hotel quarantine cleaner who tested positive with the UK variant of coronavirus.
“We are going to go early and go hard,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
Ms Palaszczuk made the announcement on Friday, also mandating the wearing of masks in the affected areas if people are leaving home.
It comes after Queensland recorded nine new coronavirus cases.
Ms Palaszczuk outlined the council areas that will be declared Greater Brisbane, which comprise Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton, and Redlands.
“From 6:00pm tonight, Friday, to 6:00pm Monday all residents living in those areas will be required to stay at home,” she said.
“We will be mandating masks in those areas if you are leaving home,” said Ms Palaszczuk.
“So, if you are leaving home, you are leaving your place of residence, from 6:00pm Friday to 6:00pm Monday and you will living in those council areas, again, let me say them – Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands – you must wear a mask.”
Children under 12 do not have to wear a mask.
Panic buying has gripped southeast Queensland as people prepare for the lockdown.
Major supermarkets are considering reinstating limits on toilet paper and paper towels following a surge in demand.
Massive crowds have stripped supermarket shelves of toiletries, perishables and canned goods with lines stretching for hundreds of metres at some stores.
Shoppers face long waits of up to two hours during the countdown to the 6pm Friday deadline, with social media flooded with images of bare shelves and long checkout lines.
Greater Brisbane residents have been told they can leave home for four reasons, along the lines of the lockdown undertaken in March.
“They are: to go to essential work – if you can work from home, please do that. It is coming into a weekend, so that is good news,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“You can leave home if you are providing healthcare or support for a vulnerable person you can leave home for essential shopping, but within your local area and the fourth reason is to exercise in your local neighbourhood.
“I know this will be tough on businesses over the next few days but I am thinking about your long-term futures as well.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed Queensland’s decision to go into lockdown.
The announcement came as Mr Morrison, premiers and first ministers were about to meet by video conference to discuss the UK strain at an emergency national cabinet meeting.
Mr Morrison tweeted it was a “wise call” by Ms Palaszczuk.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the situation in Queensland was concerning.
“We do know that we’ve had cases of the UK variant in our hotel quarantine system,” he told ABC RN on Friday.
“And we do know sometimes with a very complex system which relies on humans, mistakes can happen. That apparently is the case here.”
The hotel cleaner’s infection ended almost four months of zero locally acquired cases in Queensland.
She visited several locations while potentially infectious and contact tracers are tracking her movements.
The woman travelled on a train from Altandi station to Roma Street station at 7am on January 2, then returned on the 4pm service the same day.
She also visited Woolworths at the Calamvale Central Shopping Centre from 11am to 12pm on Sunday 3 January.
She was at Coles in Sunnybank Hills for 30 minutes from 7.30am on Tuesday 5 January and a newsagent at Sunnybank Hills Shopping Town from 8am to 8.15am on the same day.
Residents of Algester, Sunnybank Hills and Calamvale who have symptoms of the infection are especially urged to get tested as soon as possible.
Western Australia shuts out Queensland
Western Australia will introduce a hard border with Queensland from midnight after the highly contagious UK coronavirus strain was detected in greater Brisbane.
The change will come into effect from 12.01am on Saturday, WA Premier Mark McGowan announced on Friday.
“We cannot sit back and wait and watch. Given the number of contacts and potentially affected locations … we need to move fast,” he said.
People who have recently arrived in WA from Queensland will be allowed to return home, Mr McGowan said.
Queensland travellers coming to WA after midnight will only be allowed in if they have a special exemption.
Around 1,400 people from Queensland on nine flights are expected to land in Perth on Friday.
Mr McGowan said they will be tested and required to go into quarantine.
SA moves to restrict Brisbane travel
Travellers to South Australia from greater Brisbane will be required to quarantine for 14 days in response to the lockdown.
The restrictions will take effect from Saturday, while anyone who has arrived since January 2 will be required to be tested three times, but will not need to isolate.
Premier Steven Marshall said SA would not hesitate to impose tighter restrictions on Queensland if necessary, while Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the latest developments were worrying.
She urged all South Australia to reconsider any travel plans to Queensland.
“We’ll keep watching the situation. We are going to use that hotspot model, at least for the time being,” Professor Spurrier said.
“But if anything changes, it may be that anybody returning from anywhere in Queensland has to quarantine here.
“And as things get worse it may be that we have to reduce the number of people coming into our state.”