COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XIII

Image result for qld nsw hard border closure 21dec2020

December 21

On 25MAR2020 Queensland had closed its borders.

On 10JUL2020 borders had opened with New South Wales.

08AUG2020 following a break-out the borders In were closed again.

03NOV2020 the border between QLD and NSW opened with the exception of the greater Sydney area.

01DEC2020 they were welcome too.

Now 21DEC2020 thirty-five New South Wales Local Government Areas centred around Sydney but going as far as Katoomba and Woollongong were on the list. If you came to Queensland through or from those 35 LGAs then you had quarantine in a hotel for 14 days at your own expense.

The next morning on the 22nd of December at 6am, the hard border went back up between New South Wales and Queensland.

Police checking a line of cars

That morning Assistant Police Commissioner Shane Chelepy told ABC Radio Brisbane, “We’ve had to turn around 115 cars yesterday and at the airports in the last 24 hours, we’ve denied another 38 people we’ve had to turn away on alternate flights. There are a number of people travelling through we still need to turn around.

With over 70 points of entry along the border with 17 alone on the Gold Coast there were timely reminders why such measures were put in place.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski advised that officers conduction random check on Monday the 21st had turned around 81 travellers trying to cross over in breach of the rules.

I have no doubt that a number of those people were deliberately trying to get into the state — they did not have passes … or they had the incorrect pass. We’ve tried to do a system where it relies on the integrity and honesty of the community coming in, and some people are not doing the right thing. We can’t give the community confidence that we are picking everyone up as they come across the border, hence the need to move to a hard-border closure,” Gollschewski said.

On Monday 658 vehicles came through Goondiwindi with 40 people sent to home quarantine.

Speaking of home quarantine, four people had been caught breaching the rules of that and been placed in government hotel facilities and fined $1,330 each. Home quarantine was for people who had visited a hotspot recently but had returned home to Queensland before the new restrictions.

Other states had already closed.

Western Australia from midnight Saturday night 19DEC2020 had closed its hard border with all of New South Wales.

I know these changes are going to be hard to take for many people. I know it will throw Christmas and reunion plans into disarray if it hasn’t already. These are now extraordinary circumstances. I wish I didn’t have to be making this announcement but as Premier I have a responsibility for every Western Australian and I need to do what is right to keep our state safe and strong,” the WA Premier Mark McGown had said.

We hope it’s only for a short period and we can reassess our border controls when the health advice says it’s ok to do so.

Image result for albury wondonga border december 2020

Victoria had already closed to Sydney and the Central Coast on Sunday announcing any Victorians returning from Sydney could self isolate for 14 days but from midnight from Monday night people had to go into hotel quarantine. Everybody else coming from Sydney had to go into hotel quarantine from Sunday.

Everybody coming into Victoria from New South Wales had to go into quarantine.

On Sunday Victoria Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton had advised, “These are proportionate measures, because what we see today in Sydney is not what the situation will be like a week from now. We do have to hang onto this precious COVID-free situation in Victoria. And even though we haven’t got community transmission, we have flagged now, Victoria really is or should be on high alert.

Thirteen vehicle checkpoints were put in place on the New South Wales and Victoria border. Albury/Wodonga residents were likely in for a fun time again.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had been clear too that the measures made in Victoria regarding the Sydney cluster would not be reviewed at the same time that New South Wales Premier would consider changing the restrictions in her capital city on Wednesday.

“These arrangements will not be lifted on midnight Wednesday night. They will apply for as long as they need to,” he said.

Image result for south australia nsw covid border

South Australia had also set up border checkpoints from Sunday and anybody coming from Greater Sydney they could not enter the state. Those who had come back since December 10 had to self quarantine.

There’s always a risk when you have this nasty virus in your state, but I truly believe that we have gone above and beyond to make this as safe as possible for South Australia because I can tell you, I personally do not want to go through another Parafield cluster,” South Australia Chief Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said.

South Australia moved to a hard border closure with New South Wales from New Years Day.

The Australian Capital Territory had also made a decision on Sunday.

Anybody travelling to Canberra from one of the affected areas will have to fill out a form declaring they are entering the ACT.

They will then be required to privately quarantine, not leaving their home for any reason for 14 days.

In Sydney itself New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard was not happy. You could use QR codes at venues to register your details and attendance on your mobile phone. But there were also old fashioned clipboards and sheets to sign in on. But a change was in the wind and in a few days I would find myself having to master using my phone to log in using QR codes up in Brisbane.

Why?

What we are finding is that some of the visitors to various venues still think that it is funny to be caught putting in there that you’re Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse or a false phone number. That must stop. This is a worldwide COVID pandemic and thinking it’s smart to call yourself Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse is about as stupid as it gets. So that must cease,” I wholeheartedly agree but had to admit that when dear Mr Hazzard said so in the news it did make me snigger.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – SCARE DOWN SOUTH

Parafield coronavirus cluster now officially 'closed' 28 days after last  case entered isolation - ABC News

November 16

Monday.

Hotspots.

From government websites, “Hotspots are places in Australia where health officials have found a lot of people with COVID-19, or places that are at risk of a lot of COVID-19 infections. Hotspots are legally listed so that people travelling from those high-risk areas into Queensland can be identified.”

In November Australian states were focussing on Hotspots for how to define travel between them and the scope of their border closures.

Western Australia had just opened up to the rest of the country on Saturday now slammed the border shut to South Australia from midnight with a handful of exemptions including Federal politicians,  senior government officials, military personnel and transport or logistics workers.

Western Australians who had just travelled to South Australia and wanted to get home could also apply on compassionate grounds.

In Queensland, 32 NSW LGAs were considered hotspots but residents coming from anywhere else could cross the border since the 3rd of November.

We remained shut to Victoria as a whole and on the 16th of November we closed off travel to Queensland from 20 South Australian LGAs.

Tasmania, WA and the Northern Territory citizens faced no restrictions to enter Queensland.

So why?

COVID-19 SA: Two new cases linked to Parafield cluster | The Advertiser

They called it the Parafield cluster in Adelaide’s north stemming from a medi-hotel worker testing positive. Seventeen cases were linked to the cluster as on Monday and the South Australian government went into action.

All international flights into Adelaide were cancelled.

Gyms were closed and all sporting activities cancelled, funerals were capped at 50 people, churches at 100, weddings every guests had to be registered, private gatherings at venues that served alcohol were to have 50 maximum.

Public gatherings at pubs, clubs and restaurants was 100 per venue – no more than 4 square metres, cinemas and theatres had the four metre rule too.

No more than 10 people over to your home.

Masks were mandatory in tattoo parlours, nail salons and hairdressers and masks were also mandatory in aged care with only two visitors per day.

If you’d set a COVID management plan for an activity and had it approved it was now off the table for the next two weeks.

All up there were 34 actives in South Australia as authorities raced to get on top of an outbreak.

“We are facing our biggest test to-date. We are working around the clock to stay ahead of this cluster, no effort will be spared. We must act swiftly and decisively to stay ahead of the game,” said Premier Steven Marshall.

Coronavirus restrictions to be reintroduced in SA from midnight, but no  cluster growth - ABC News

The first thing we need to do … is the testing, contact tracing and getting people into quarantine very, very quickly. The other way of getting ahead of this and to stop that second wave, and to suppress it, is to put some restrictions in place to reduce the number of close contacts between people,” advised South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier.

Ninety-six police officers were in quarantine awaiting test results but the Premier advised enough police were still available.

We are maintaining our border arrangements, we’re obligated to do that, and we’re undertaking compliance checking for those people who are quarantining at home, so this is just an additional factor we have to build into our current operations.

There were two positive cases at a SA Anglicare aged care facility.

Holy Family Catholic Primary School shut down because one student had been a close contact of a known case.

The school described the decision being made out of an abundance of caution.

A whole school locked down because of one close contact.

Imagine that?!

I hope you’re listening Boris!

The World Health Organisation reported on the 16th of November in Australia there had been 27,725 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 14. There had been 907 deaths.

US surge in coronavirus cases darkens outlook for economy | Financial Times

In America Dr Anthony Fauci advised, “For the first time in more than 30 years, I’m not spending the Christmas holidays with my daughters.

The health professional warned 10 people at family gatherings over the Christmas season would most likely be too many and a spread of the disease could result in a very dark January.

We could start to see things start to get really bad in the middle of January, not only for New York state but for any state or city,” he told.

It was reported that hospital admissions had soared 70% in the past two weeks in California. ICU availability was at 10% or less across the state with Governor Gavin Newsom issuing stay at home orders in regions with low ICU capacities.

The United States had set a record for COVID-19 hospitilsations with more than 109,000 patients – 21,200 of them in ICU.

The New York Times calculated that most American hospitals were at a similar ICU capacity as the ones in California.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 16th of November in the United States of America there had been 10,796,432 confirmed cases with a daily increase of with a daily increase of 155,001. There had been 243,758 deaths with a daily increase of 1,216.

Even in this year of Covid, New York just can't say no to Thanksgiving |  Thanksgiving | The Guardian

November 18

On Wednesday it was announced that South Australia was going to go into a six day lockdown from midnight on Thursday following the Parafield Cluster.

Pubs, cafes, takeaway food outlets, universities, outdoor sports, elective surgery, weddings and funerals were all gone for now and the construction industry would close.

Only one person per household could leave the house and only for specific reasons.

Exercise was not one of them.

Children of essential workers would be the only ones able to attend school

Medical services would remain and public transport would still run.

Court houses would be closed and only urgent matters like bail applications would continue.

Aged care and disability residencies were in full lockdown.

Fly-in – fly-out work and regional travel was also banned.

South Australia Premier Steven Marshall referred to the measure, significantly shorter than previous ones as a “Circuit Breaker”.

“We continue to face our biggest test to date. We are going hard and we are going early. Time is of the essence,” he said.

There were two new cases in South Australian, 23 cases were now linked to the Parafield cluster and a further seven were suspected.

If we leave this any longer … then we will be in this for a long haul and we will be like the experience in Victoria. We don’t have any time to wait. If I just thought about this all day and then told the Police Commissioner and the Premier tonight, we would already be that 12 hours behind,” explained Chief Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier.

Masks were not mandatory but were encouraged to be worn outside of the house.

Coronavirus testing starts for South Australian hotel workers

“We will be looking at having more stricter conditions for wearing masks, but we know that it takes people a little bit of time to get a mask,” Professor Spurrier said.

A staff member of Woodville Pizza Bar had been linked to the cluster and had been on food delivery apps which could lead to significant spread in a short period.

“This is my very significant concern. This is one of the reasons we’re putting in place the restrictions,” Professor Spurrier advised.

That is really, really important. They must go directly to the testing location, wear a mask and alert the staff that they have visited the pizza bar. If you have people and friends and family living in Woodville, get hold of them now and ask them have they been to that pizza bar,” the Chief Health Officer urged.

Woodville Pizza bar guarded by police after worker lied to contact tracers  | The Advertiser

On the 18th of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 27,756 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of six. There had been 907 deaths.

The six day lockdown was to be followed by a strict 8 day period with certain concessions all things going well.

The whole city was gridlocked': Brisbane heaves as fans allowed back en  masse | State of Origin | The Guardian

At the same time South Australia was going through this crisis Queensland set a world record for the largest attended sporting event post COVID-19 spreading globally.

49,155 people attended the deciding third match at the 52,500 capacity stadium Lang Park. State of Origin is regularly the biggest sporting event in Australia every year.

A grudge match between Queensland and New South Wales the two dominant states of the Australian rugby league competition.

Pre professional sports, rugby league clubs down south were able to make money out of pokie machines and poach the best Queensland players to come play down south. Regularly these players would return in blue jerseys and thump their home state in inter-state competitions.

Including the great Arthur Beetson who played for the Sydney Easts for many years. Artie was past his prime was he was picked to Captain the first State of Origin Qld side. The Sydney crowd talked it down, said the competition was a non-starter. Beetson came out belted his Easts teammate on the NSW team and had a blinder of a game.

Story behind a classic Beetson Origin moment - NRL

Origin had arrived even New South Wales don’t talk about it too much until 1985 when their passionate Steve Mortimer from Canterbury lived and breathed getting his side to their first Origin victory.

My father played Rugby League, he never forced his interests on me but for brief periods I came to enjoy watching League and Rugby. There were even a couple of years where the men in my family would sit around a TV set and watch it.

I hadn’t watched it since 2016 but spurred on by a picking contest at work and the return of the greatest coach of all time Wayne Bennett returning to coach Queensland I sat down and watched this decider. The game has changed a lot since I watched it at the turn of the century but it was a great game.

State of Origin 2020: Queensland Maroons coach Wayne Bennett looking for  next Allan Langer - NRL

Abroad a massive decision was made in regards to streaming wars and cinema business. With other 50 per cent of cinemas closed in the United States and growing COVID-19 numbers Warners Bros announced it would release it’s oft-delayed blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984 on the streaming service HBO Max on Christmas Day as well as in U.S. cinemas that were open. Internationally it would strictly a release in cinemas including in territories that were seeing a rise in COVID numbers as well as places like here in Australia where the disease had receded for the moment. This was a huge decision given Mulan had not done well on Disney Plus and also came in the wake of Warner Bros. own Tenet failing to draw big cash with a cinematic release.

Most blockbusters were moving to 2021 like Universal’s Fast 9, Disney’s Black Widow and Sony’s No Time To Die and Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick to name just a few and it was originally expected Wonder Woman: 1984 would do the same. It was suspected that the potential, and given what happened with Tenet the word potential could not be underlined enough, earnings of the blockbuster sequel was being foregone in the hope to give the conglomerates late arrival to the streaming wars with HBO Max some momentum in that venture.

20 Great Patty Jenkins Quotes for Writers and Filmmakers

Director Patty Jenkins tweeted, “The time has come. At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else. We love our movie as we love our fans, so we truly hope that our film brings a little bit of joy and reprieve to all of you this holiday season. Watch it in theaters, where it is made safe to do so (check out the great work theaters have done to make it so!) And available in the safety of your home on HBO Max where it is not. Happy holidays to all of you. We hope you enjoy our film as much as we enjoyed making it.

November 19

November 20

On Friday South Australia announced it would come out of it’s short six day lockdown after only three days on Saturday night.

The decision was made when it was established that a medi-hotel worker who had tested positive had initially said he got the virus after ordering pizza from the Woodville Pizza Bar. Then he had come forward to advise that he actually worked at the pizza bar too.

The South Australian Premier Steven Marshall was not pleased.

SBS Language | South Australia eases restrictions as premier reveals close  contact 'deliberately misled' authorities

One of the close contacts linked to the Woodville Pizza Bar deliberately misled the contact tracing team. We know now that they lied. To say that I’m fuming is an understatement, we’re absolutely livid about the actions of this individual. I will not let the disgraceful conduct of a single individual keep SA in these circuit breaker conditions one day longer than what is necessary,” he advised.

However, this lie still means that our contact tracers need breathing space to contact people, but not for as long,” he said.

I’m not sure how that works but that is what he said.

South Australian Police Commissioner Grant Stephens confirmed the man would not be fined or charged, citing “Increased penalty wouldn’t force information underground. We’ve got to look at this, we’ve got to [find a] balance.

That I understood more clearly.

We are not out of the woods yet. We still have a significant number of close contacts and contacts of close contacts, because we are doing that double ring-fencing, or sandbagging, as it were, around everybody who is a case. And we have had a focus on the Woodville Pizza Bar, but we have also got that large family cluster,” warned Chief Health Officer Nicola Spurrier.

She also expected more not less positive cases numbers in the next couple of days.

“Please do not be alarmed by that, it is something we are expecting,” she said.

On the 20th of November the World Health Organisation reported in Australia there had been 27,784 confirmed cases with a daily increase of seven. There had been 907 deaths.

-Lloyd Marken