Millions of Australians have had their Easter plans thrown into chaos, wreaking havoc on an already struggling Queensland tourism sector.
Holidays are now up the air or have had to be cancelled after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday announced Greater Brisbane would enter a snap, three-day lockdown from 5pm.
The state recorded an alarming 10 new cases in the 24 hours to Monday morning.
While six were acquired overseas, four were the result of community transmission and were all the highly contagious UK variant.
Two of the cases are linked to the latest cluster, but health authorities are scrambling to work out how two other people contracted the virus.
Ms Palaszczuk has declared Greater Brisbane a hotspot and urged premiers from other states across the country to do the same thing.
Western Australia will introduce a hard border with Queensland from midnight, labelling the state a “medium risk” following the “escalating situation” with its COVID-19 outbreak.
In recent days Queensland had been classified as a “low risk” state under WA’s controlled interstate border rules.
Premier Mark McGowan said updated advice had been received from the WA chief health officer on Monday.
“We’ve been monitoring the situation closely and have scaled up our border controls as
required to keep our community safe,” Mr McGowan said.
“The hard border measure is necessary and is our best defence in keeping the virus out.
“It’s going to be disruptive for many people and put many people’s plans in disarray, however we need to put the health of our WA community first.”
Under the changes, travel from Queensland will no longer be allowed unless you are an exempt traveller.
It also applies to anyone who has been in Queensland since March 27 and has not
completed 14 days in a “very low risk” jurisdiction.
The exemption list includes some senior government officials and active military personnel, federal MPs, a person carrying out functions under a law of the commonwealth, people responsible for transport freight or logistics, and anyone who is given approval.
Compassionate reasons will also be considered.
Exempt travellers arriving into WA from midnight must self-quarantine for two weeks, be tested upon arrival at Perth Airport, get tested if any symptoms develop and be tested on day 11.
Anyone who has arrived from Queensland since midnight on Saturday must self-quarantine for two weeks, get tested if symptoms develop and be tested on day 11.
Mr McGowan said recent arrivals from Queensland were free to depart WA and return home.
“We are thinking of our friends and family in Queensland as they go into lockdown this
evening,” he said.
“They are doing the right thing to keep Queensland safe and protect us all across the country.
Anyone who arrived in the state from 12.01am on Saturday, March 27, now needs to complete 14 days of self-quarantine and present for testing.
Victoria has declared Greater Brisbane a red zone under Victoria’s travel permit system as of 6pm Victorian time on Monday.
A red zone means non-Victorian residents are not allowed to enter Victoria without an exception, specified worker permit, transit permit, freight worker permit, or exemption.
Victorian residents in Greater Brisbane can apply for a ‘red zone’ permit to return home, but must quarantine for 14 days as soon as they arrive.
Tasmania updated its public health advice on Monday after news of the lockdown broke.
Anyone who has travelled to the Greater Brisbane local government areas in the past 14 days is now no longer permitted to enter the state unless they are classified as an essential traveller.
South Australian premier Steven Marshall quickly followed suit, declaring no one from the Greater Brisbane area would be allowed into the state from 4pm on Monday.
Essential workers, South Australian residents and people relocating permanently for work will be permitted but will have to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Mr Marshall said he wasn’t happy about instituting a hard border and it would come down as soon as was safe.
“We know this is going to be a huge inconvenience to people particularly in the lead-up to this Easter period,” he said.
Queenslanders and people returning home to NSW are still permitted to enter the state, provided they have not visited one of the growing list of venues exposed to COVID-19.
If they have, they must get tested and self-isolate for 14 days.
Anyone trying to enter the state who has been in the Greater Brisbane area from March 11 is also required to complete a declaration form.
However, premier Gladys Berejiklian urged NSW residents to reconsider their travel plans to the Queensland capital.
One in seven people were expected to travel to the Sunshine State over the next month.
The Tourism and Events Queensland data predicted more than 3.5 million Australians would make their way across the border, injecting $1bn into the economy.