BRISBANE, Australia — The Australian state of Queensland has recorded two new local cases of Covid-19 and moved to mandate face masks for two weeks amid concerns about the Delta strain getting out of control.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says one new case is believed to the Alpha strain and linked to the cluster involving the Portuguese Family Centre in Brisbane.
Palaszczuk tweeted “Australia must take this Delta strain seriously. I urge the Federal Government to do everything possible to defeat it.”
The other is a case of the Delta strain, close contact of a miner who was out in the Sunshine Coast town of Bli Bli after arriving from a mine in the Northern Territory.
Palaszczuk says the state is “on the verge of a lockdown” and has moved to mandate masks indoors and outdoors across 11 local government areas in the southeast.
Residents of Brisbane, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Logan, Moreton Bay, Ipswich, the Lockyer Valley and the Scenic Rim will have to wear masks unless they’re exercising and eating for 14-days from 1am on Tuesday.
“We are on the verge (of a lockdown), but we are monitoring, very, very closely over the next 24 to 48 hours,” she told reporters.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young urged people not to wait until the total mask mandate comes in on June 29.
She said any person who leaves those 11 local government areas will have to continue wearing masks while they do.
“So we’ve got an enormous risk throughout our state, but I’m very confident with all our strategies and the mitigating factors that we have in place, and everything that all of us have learned over the last 18 months, that we can manage this,” she said.
“So please, everyone’s getting really good at wearing masks please put them back on.”
Other restrictions have also been tightened with a maximum of 30 people including children allowed to visit homes.
New South Wales Health tweeted a statement on the restrictions owing to the spread of the Delta variant, “PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER – Stay at home orders extended to all of Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong. Restrictions apply to the rest of New South Wales.”
Wedding and funerals will be restricted to 100 people with only 20 people allowed to dance at the former.
There will be a one-person per four square meter rule in venues and no dancing will be allowed at all.
Ticketed or fully seated venues with COVID-19 plans will be allowed to continue operating at full capacity.
Palaszczuk also warned that Queensland could close the border with New South Wales if there’s further community transmission.
“If we start seeing any spread of community transmission in New South Wales, especially closer to our border, We will not hesitate to take strong action,” she said.
Millions of people in New South Wales have endured the first day of a fortnight-long lockdown with residents of Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, and Wollongong ordered to stay at home until at least July 9.
The lockdown came after the number of Covid-19 cases in the harbor city swelled by 12 to 110 on Sunday.
Young said there is “a lot happening” in Queensland and urged anybody with symptoms to get tested as soon as possible.
Queensland will also revert to previous venue density requirements and a cap of 100 guests at private homes for the two-week duration of New South Wales’s current restrictions.
(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Praveen Pramod Tewari. Map by Urvashi Makwana)
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