The travel plans of thousands of Australians have been thrown into disarray just a week before Christmas, with states across the country wasting no time in slamming their borders shut to Sydney’s northern beaches.
It comes following an outbreak of COVID-19 in the area, with 17 people now infected with the virus and a number of new cases believed to have been diagnosed overnight.
“We are asking everybody to brace themselves, because we are going to have more cases today,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told Nine, also revealing genomic testing had confirmed the strain of the virus appears to have originated overseas.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
Western Australia was one of the first states to act, announcing on Thursday afternoon that anyone from NSW arriving into Western Australia will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks.
That was quickly followed by Queensland, who overnight declared Sydney’s northern beaches as a COVID-19 hotspot.
Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young said anyone who was in the Northern Beaches region on or since Friday 11 December and is already in Queensland should get tested and quarantine in their home or accommodation for 14 days from the date they left the Northern Beaches.
Anyone who arrived on a flight from Sydney after midnight last night was ordered to get a test and quarantine in their home or accommodation for 14 days from the date they left the Northern Beaches.
While anyone who touches down in Queensland on a flight from Sydney after 1am Saturday 19 December will be required to go into hotel quarantine at their own expense for 14 days.
“This includes both interstate visitors and Queensland residents returning home,” Dr Young said.
1/5 An important update from Queensland’s Chief Health Officer. The NSW Northern Beaches COVID-19 cluster has now increased to 17 cases. #covid19au
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) December 17, 2020
Victoria announced similar travel restrictions, with people who have arrived in the state from the Northern Beaches told to get tested and quarantine in their home or accommodation for 14 days.
“Anyone from NSW who is in Victoria and who has even the slightest symptoms is urged to get tested immediately,” Victoria Health said.
The ACT also imposed restrictions, warning all Canberrans not to travel to the Northern Beaches area of Sydney.
“Any Canberrans who have been in the Northern Beaches area from Friday 11 December need to immediately self quarantine and get tested,” ACT Health said.
The State’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman, acknowledged the impact the new travel advice would have on locals hoping to reunite with families.
“We know this will be difficult news for people so close to Christmas,” ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman said.
“However, it is important we act quickly to respond to this outbreak while NSW continue with their contact tracing and assess the extent of the local transmission that is occurring.
“This is a timely reminder that as we make plans to come together with our family and friends in the coming weeks, or travel over the summer holidays, we must be COVID-Safe and get tested, even with the mildest of symptoms,” Dr Coleman said.
Sydney Airport is a hive of activity this morning as thousands of residents race to leave the city before tougher restrictions are imposed.