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Snap Brisbane lockdown sparks COVID fears, sports scramble

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A snap three-day lockdown announced for Greater Brisbane this morning due to COVID-19 cases could prompt travel chaos before Easter and has forced the relocation of several sporting fixtures – although the Crows are preparing to face the Gold Coast Suns at Adelaide Oval as scheduled on Good Friday.

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Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced this morning Brisbane, Logan, Moreton Bay, Ipswich and Redlands will go into a three-day lockdown from 5pm this evening, after four more COVID-19 cases emerged in the community.

All new cases are likely close contacts of the three existing or historical cases, but the infected people have been out in the community raising the risk more transmission may have occurred.

Schools and non-essential businesses will close, while greater Brisbane residents will only be allowed to leave home to do essential work, shop, care for people or exercise.

“I didn’t sleep last night so I think I am very worried, I’m very concerned,” Palaszczcuk told reporters.

Palaszczuk said the lockdown will be reviewed on Thursday, ahead of the Easter holiday break this weekend, and that face masks will be mandatory for everyone in Queensland with all venues outside Greater Brisbane only allowed to host seated patrons.

Anyone who has been in Brisbane since March 20 will also come under the lockdown restrictions.

“I know this will mean some disruption to people’s lives but we’ve done this before, and we’ve got through it over those three days in the past, and if everyone does the right thing I’m sure that we will be able to get through it again.”

The cluster has also spread to NSW after two cases visited Byron Bay in NSW while they were infectious. NSW Health has now listed two high risk locations.

Palaszczuk has declared the Greater Brisbane region a hotspot and asked all other states and territories to do the same.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall this afternoon announced SA will be closing its door to Brisbane at 4pm today.

The Adelaide Crows are preparing as per normal to face the Gold Coast Suns at the Adelaide Oval on Good Friday, despite the Brisbane lockdown raising uncertainty over the match.

“At this stage, we are planning and preparing for Friday night’s game as per usual, from both on and off-field perspective,” a spokesperson for the Crows said before the border closure announcement.

The Suns – currently on the Gold Coast after facing North Melbourne at Metricon Stadium on Saturday – are not in the area affected by the lockdown, but have reportedly not heard from the AFL yet as to whether they should leave Queensland early to avoid any potential border restrictions.

It comes as the Brisbane Lions have been stranded in Victoria since their clash against Geelong last Friday night, with their game at the Gabba against Collingwood on Thursday night now moved to Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.

In return, the AFL decided to swap Brisbane’s round 22 clash with Collingwood back to the Gabba.

“In the interest of the health and safety of both clubs and the wider community we have made the decision to move the match to Marvel Stadium,” AFL fixtures boss Travis Auld said.

“Marvel Stadium was the scheduled venue for the return match between these two clubs later in the season, which made the decision to switch the venues as per the fixture the appropriate choice.

“As we continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic, we are constantly ensuring we have the contingencies in place to best combat any challenges that are presented.”

Meanwhile, Brisbane’s NRL team are on standby to fly to Melbourne early for Friday’s clash with the Storm at AAMI Park, while North Queensland and Cronulla are considering charter flights to the Sunshine Coast for their matches on Saturday, to avoid transit through Brisbane.

Brisbane Roar’s A-League clash with Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday could also be affected, while the NBL’s Brisbane Bullets are due to host South East Melbourne Phoenix on Friday.

The lockdown will also cause major headaches for families planning to visit Brisbane over Easter, as well as the many thousands of hospitality and tourism companies who rely on their business.

It comes just one day after JobKeeper payments were wound up, leaving almost one million Australian workers facing an uncertain future.

Treasury estimates up to 150,000 jobs could be lost without the wage subsidies, with about 100,000 vulnerable businesses expected to collapse.

Brisbane’s lockdown is due to end at 5pm on Thursday – the day air fares go on sale from the federal government’s half-priced ticket subsidy scheme.

Premier Palaszczuk also told reporters the federal government had agreed to halve Queensland’s intake of overseas travellers into hotel quarantine from the current 1300 people to 650.

Queensland Health conducted 11,626 COVID-19 tests on 6130 people in the 24 hours to 9am on Monday.

-With AAP

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