Australia

Byron Bay on high alert after partygoers test positive for COVID-19 in Queensland

With the popular Bluesfest music festival just days away, people in the northern NSW tourist town of Byron Bay are anxious after two people from Queensland with COVID-19 partied there last weekend.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the state should brace itself for new cases after Queensland imposed a three-day lockdown as two separate clusters there grew by eight to 15 cases, sparking fears of significant community transmission.

“We hope that we do not have any cases arise in NSW but I would not be surprised if we did, so we must brace ourselves,” the premier told reporters on Tuesday.

She also urged people in NSW to cancel any Easter holidays to the Sunshine State, warning they could get trapped there if a lockdown is imposed.

There were no new cases in NSW on Tuesday but it’s believed a NSW resident who was among a group that attended a hen’s party at Byron Bay on the weekend is now in Queensland and infected with the highly contagious UK variant.

Byron Bay Mayor Simon Richardson says it’s imperative that anyone who was in the beach town last weekend get tested if they feel unwell.

Bluesfest, which is due to start on Thursday, attracts up to 16,000 revellers a day.

“Naturally everyone is quite anxious about the evolving situation so they should check in regularly with the NSW Health website and Facebook page for the latest updates,” Mr Richardson said on his Facebook page.

NSW Health has opened additional COVID-19 testing clinics In Byron Bay and is increasing the hours of existing clinics across northern NSW.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said NSW Health had contacted 1321 people who attended the Byron Beach Hotel last Friday asking them to isolate and get tested.

And 166 people who visited The Farm on Sunday have also been contacted and asked to test and isolate.

NSW Health issued additional venue alerts for Byron Bay locations including Betty’s Burgers & Concrete Co.

Anyone who has returned from Brisbane from 11 March should be on high alert for symptoms, Dr Chant said.

Anyone who had been to Queensland since 20 March needed to comply with the lockdown rules there.

Ms Berejiklian said the state’s borders were still open but “if cases are identified in NSW, we will have to respond. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that”.

She also urged everyone in NSW to check in at every venue they attend, socially distance and sanitise hands.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of being COVID-safe,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“And most importantly, if you’ve attended any of the venues NSW Health has identified, get tested, stay home and isolate for the full 14 days.”

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSWVictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania.

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