Christmas hangs in the balance for millions of Australians as an alarming coronavirus outbreak across a Sydney peninsula threatens to spiral out of control.
About 270,000 Northern Beaches locals are effectively in lockdown for the next three days after a 17th new case within 24 hours was recorded in the area on Thursday.
The number of infected venues now stands at 30 as concerned health authorities scramble to track down the source of the shock new cluster.
Christmas plans have been thrown into chaos for thousands of families who have booked holidays, with five states and territories stepping up travel restrictions for visitors from the virus hot spot.
As concerned Northern Beaches residents queued to be tested and left supermarket shelves bare amid a return to panic buying, it was a different story on the other side of the Harbour Bridge on Thursday night.
Pubs, bars and restaurants in Sydney’s CBD were packed with carefree revellers in party mode as they celebrating the festive season and the recent easing of Covid restrictions in NSW.
As thousands of Sydneysiders on the northern beaches were advised to stay at home, it was a different story on the other side of Sydney as carefree revellers embraced friends (pictured, partygoers in Sydney)
These revellers were in the festive spirit on Thursday night in Sydney’s CBD (pictured), despite growing fears about a growing coronavirus outbreak over the harbour
An exhausted reveller enjoys a quick siesta after a big night on the town on Thursday night (picture) in Sydney’s CBD as offices enjoyed their Christmas parties
There was little physical distancing on display as revellers hugged and kissed each other, held hands, sat closely together and danced in the streets.
While Queensland was the first to announce restrictions for residents from the Sydney hot spot, Western Australia went one step further by imposing a 14-day quarantine for all NSW residents.
Any new arrivals from NSW will be required to quarantine at a suitable premise for 14 days and undertake a test on day 11.
Anyone already in Western Australia who has been in NSW since December 11 must self-quarantine and get tested as soon as possible.
They are required to remain in quarantine until a negative test result is confirmed and undertake a further test on day 11.
Sydney’s northern beaches (pictured in red) will remain in lockdown until at least Sunday with 270,000 people asked to stay at home and avoid travel, amid fears the virus could spread across the whole city
Hundreds of residents waited in long queue to be tested on Thursday after the shock cluster popped up in the city’s north, which has not seen coronavirus case on mass since April (pictured, the queue at Mona Vale Hospital on Thursday afternoon)
Northern beaches residents went into panic buying mode as they rushed to the shops on Thursday night (pictured, an almost empty toilet paper aisle at Woolworths at Warringah Mall)
NEW TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS IMPOSED ON SYDNEYSIDERS BY FIVE STATES
Victoria: People who visited the Northern Beaches since December 11 to get tested immediately and self-isolate while they await results
Western Australia: All people arriving from NSW must quarantine for two weeks. Those who have already arrived in the past week must get a covid test and isolate until they receive a negative result
Queensland: All people who have visited the Northern Beaches since December 11 should isolate for 14 days and get tested. If they arrive from midnight tonight, they must quarantine for 14 days and get tested. If they arrive from 1am Saturday they have to hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Tasmania: Northern Beaches visitors banned
Northern Territory: Northern Beaches visitors must quarantine
The drastic measures were imposed just a week after Western Australia reopened its borders to NSW and Victoria for the first time in eight months.
‘We are very concerned there will be many more community cases in NSW,’ Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said.
‘I understand these changes will cause frustration and uncertainty for some people, and be very upsetting for many families looking to reunite and spend Christmas together.’
Queensland was the first state to respond to the Sydney outbreak by declaring anyone who has been in the Northern Beaches since December 11 cannot visit Queensland residential aged care centres, hospitals or correctional facilities.
By the end of Thursday night, anyone who visited the peninsula since December 11 who enters Queensland on Friday must quarantine for 14 days and get tested – and anyone entering from Saturday at 1am will have to enter hotel quarantine at their own expense.
If they arrive from 1am Saturday, they have to hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Christmas parties in Sydney are in full swing due to recent easing of restrictions, but there are increasing fears of a looming lockdown if the outbreak can’t be contained to the city’s northern peninsula (pictured, two mates out in Sydney on Thursday)
Victoria has ordered anyone who visited the Northern Beaches since December 11 to get tested immediately and self-isolate while they await results, but it didn’t stop Sydneysiders enjoying their Christmas parties (pictured on Thursday)
A man looks after a woman, while still staying glued to his phone, after Sydneysiders in the city’s CBD enjoyed a raucous night on the tiles (pictured on Thursday) despite the looming coronavirus threat on the other side of the harbour
The state’s premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urged Queensland those planning to visit greater Sydney to ‘consider the risk of those areas becoming a hot spot’, hinting this could soon be made official.
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young is expected to make further announcements on Friday, saying ‘the next 24 hours are critical in suppressing the risk of the virus spreading’.
If contact tracers quickly identify close contacts who may have become infected, the outbreak could be contained before it spreads to other parts of the city, as has been done previously with the Crossroads Hotel outbreak in Casula back in July.
The outbreak has put the Queensland premier and health authorities on high alert less than three weeks after the state’s borders to Greater Sydney residents for the first time since August.
‘So I’ve just paid $7,000 for a holiday in Queensland , and won’t be able to take my family on that holiday according to your new rules. Thanks Xmas grinch,’ one man posted on Twitter.
A couple enjoy a passionate embrace at the end of the night in Sydney’s CBD (pictured on Thursday) while 250,000 people are advised to stay at home in the city’s Northern Beaches
Two revellers enjoy a brief nap after wild Christmas parties hit Sydney on Thursday night (pictured). Meanwhile, panic is spreading across the city’s Northern Beaches
For one Mrs Claus, the night had gotten a bit too much as she rested on a bollard in Sydney’s CBD (pictured, left) while another struggled with her sky-high heels
VENUES ON HIGH ALERT
People who have visited the following Northern Beaches locations should get tested immediately and isolate until they receive a negative result, and until they have been contacted by NSW Health:
· Woolworths Mona Vale, 25/29 Park St, Mona Vale, 13 December, 12-12.30pm
· Aldi Mona Vale, 13 Bungan St, Mona Vale, 13 December, 12.45-1.30pm
· Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club, 13, 14 and 15 December, 9-9.30am
· Palm Beach Rockpool, LOT 1 Rock Bath Rd, Palm Beach, 14 December, 9:30-10:30am
· Woolworths Avalon, 74 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach, 14 December 5-5.30pm
· Chemist Warehouse, 4/74 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach, 14 December 5.20‑5.25pm
· Commonwealth Bank, 47 Avalon Parade, Avalon Beach, 15 December, 12-12.15pm
· Mitre 10, 49 Avalon Parade, Avalon Beach, 15 December, 12-12.20pm
· Roof Racks World, 13/87 Reserve Rd, Artarmon, 15 December, 2-2:30pm
· HongFa BBQ Restaurant, Dee Why, 15 December 4.30-4.45pm
· Dee Why Fruit Market, 33 Oaks Avenue, Dee Why, 15 December, 4.45-4.55pm
· North Avalon Cellars, 4/3 N Avalon Rd, Avalon Beach, 15 December, 6-6.05pm
· Careel Bay Dog Park and Hitchcock Park, Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon, 16 December 7‑7:30am
· Palm Beach Pool, LOT 1 Rock Bath Rd, Palm Beach, 16 December, 8am-9am
· Brot and Wurst, 1442 Pittwater Rd, North Narrabeen, 16 December, 2pm-2:05pm
· Avalon Beach Post Shop, 45 Avalon Parade, Avalon Beach, 16 December 3.30-3.50pm
Avalon RSL club 11 December all day till closed
Penrith RSL club 13 December 1-6 pm
Kirribilli club 14 December 12-3 pm
· Bing Lee, Gateway, 1 Mona Vale Rd, Mona Vale – Monday, 14 December, 4.30-4.45pm
· Woolworths Avalon Beach, 74 Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach – Tuesday, 15 December, 12-12.30pm
Oliver’s Pie, Careel Shopping Village, 1 Careel Head Rd, Avalon Beach – Monday, 14 December, 9-9.15am
Woolworths Avalon Beach, 74 Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach – Sunday, 13 December, 12-5pm
Anyone who has attended the following additional venues is considered a close contact and should get tested and isolate for 14 days even if they receive a negative result:
· Hungry Ghost Café, 20 Avalon Parade, Avalon – Sunday, 13 December, 9.30am-11am and Tuesday, 15 December 9.30-11am
· Sneaky Grind Café, 3/48 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach – Monday, 14 December, 9.30-11am
· Barramee Thai Massage and Spa, 4/42-44 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach – Monday, 14 December, 2-3.30pm
· Bangkok Sidewalk Restaurant, 1/21-23 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach – Monday, 14 December 7-8pm
· Avalon Bowlo (bowling club), 4 Bowling Green Ln, Avalon Beach – Sunday, 13 December, 5-7pm (not 3-5pm as previously reported) and Tuesday, 15 December 3-5pm
Palm Beach female change rooms – Sunday, 13 December 9-9.15am
Coast Palm Beach Café, Barrenjoey Rd, Palm Beach – Sunday, 13 December 10-11am
A confirmed case also travelled between the following stations on 14 December at the following times. Other passengers are considered to be casual contacts, and should get tested and isolate until a negative result is received.
· Roseville to Redfern, 6.50-7.40am
· Redfern to Milsons Point, 11.20am-11.45am
· Milsons Point to Roseville, 3.15-3.40pm
The comments sparked an angry response from one Queenslander, keen to keep those potentially exposed to the virus out of the Sunshine State.
‘Honestly, what a selfish response. Super pleased you won’t be able to head this way,’ a woman replied.
Victoria, which suffered its own horror outbreak and extreme Stage Four lockdown, has ordered anyone who visited the Northern Beaches since December 11 to get tested immediately and self-isolate while they await results.
Tasmania has banned visitors from Sydney’s Northern Beaches while those entering the Northern Territory must go into quarantine.
South Australia and the ACT are the only areas yet to announce any restrictions for visitors from the area, amid calls for hard border restrictions to be reconsidered.
Northern beaches residents from The Spit Bridge to Palm Beach are advised to work from home, not to visit elderly relatives, avoid unnecessary gatherings, keep to household groups and avoid unnecessary travel, including travel to high-risk venues like restaurants, cafés and bars.
‘As a number of new cases are currently being interviewed, it is likely that a number of new venues will be identified and that people in the northern beaches may have attended these venues,’ a NSW Health statement read.
Northern Beaches Council has temporarily closed all community facilities until Sunday to coincide with the stay at home orders.
They include skate parks and playgrounds, community sporting activities in parks and reserves, outdoor gyms, public swimming pools, community centres and libraries.
‘We will maintain all essential services like waste collection, childcare, Meals on Wheels, road maintenance as well as customer service online and on the phone,’ the council posted on Facebook late Thursday.
On a day Sydney recorded a 17th new case within 24 hours, there was little social distancing between revellers in the CBD
A partygoer shows off their moves to friends as revellers partied well into the night in Sydney’s CBD (pictured on Thursday) despite the looming covid outbreak just a few kilometres away
Bus and ferry services will operate on usual schedules on Friday.
‘If you must travel, sit or stand on a green dot and wear a mask,’ the Transport NSW website states.
A NSW government spokesman added: ‘Masks will be handed out at Wynyard train station, B-Line bus stops, which connect Wynyard and Mona Vale, and Circular Quay ferry wharves on Friday.
Sydney was first put on high alert on Wednesday when a 45-year-old man who transports flight crew from the airport tested positive to COVID-19.
It ended 13 consecutive days without any locally-acquired cases in NSW.
A desperate search is underway to find the source of the worrying coronavirus outbreak, believed to have somehow slipped out of hotel quarantine.
One case was announced to be an aged care worker from Pittwater Palms, a retirement village in Avalon, along with their partner.
A drummer in his 60s from Frenchs Forest whose band Nothing Too Serious played at Avalon RSL Club and ‘travelled extensively’ also tested positive on Thursday.
Two other venues his band visited, Penrith RSL and Kirribilli Club, have been put on alert as well amid fears he was infectious when he performed.
Australia is on high alert after a growing coronavirus outbreak on Sydney’s northern beaches (pictured, residents lining up to get tested at the Avalon Community Centre pop up health clinic in Sydney on Thursday)
Residents on Sydney’s northern beaches have been ordered to stay at home after after a 17th new case was reported on Thursday (pictured, a health care worker proving hand sanitiser to a resident in Avalon on Thursday)
A woman took a quick break from the festivities as Christmas parties were in full swing in Sydney (pictured on Thursday) despite the looming coronavirus threat in the Northern Beaches
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said investigations are underway to track down the source of the infection, which has been linked to the Avalon RSL club.
Dr Chant has urged anyone who was at the club at any time on December 11 to come forward for testing.
It comes after an infected couple from Avalon refused to self-isolate after getting tested for coronavirus, instead visiting nine venues across the northern beaches.
The couple – a woman in her 60s and a man in his 70s – were also at the Avalon RSL club on December 11.
It’s understood the aged care worker may have contracted the virus after crossing paths with the woman in her 60s at a nearby bowling club in Avalon.
Residents in NSW and Victoria have not been welcome in Queensland for most of 2020 – with the borders now at risk of being shut again and people from the Northern Beaches told to isolate (pictured, a Santa Claus at Brisbane Airport on December 16)
Christmas parties were in full swing across the city on Thursday (pictured), but fears are growing the holiday season could be curtailed for thousands thanks to the new outbreak