Ahead of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announcing a “proportionate” response to the latest COVID-19 outbreak, rugby league players were on Thursday morning rushed in for tests, some 36 hours out from Friday night’s NRL clash with Parramatta.
For the footballers, the main concern centres on an infected man’s visit to the Azure Cafe on Monday, less than 100 metres from the Roosters’ headquarters. His wife has now also tested positive but authorities are concerned there is a missing link between them and a traveller from the United States who sparked the outbreak.
The Moore Park cafe in the Entertainment Quarter is a popular coffee stop and lunch venue for both Roosters and Sydney Swans AFL players, as well as sports officials.
Beyond Friday night’s game, the following weekend’s Magic Round also now shapes as a serious concern. Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium is due to host 16 teams for eight games.
Apart from any potentially linked players requiring isolation, there is concern that other states might impose quarantine restrictions. Two Sydney AFL teams have been testing players and may fly to Melbourne early to beat any restrictions ahead of their weekend games.
As NSW Health attempts to find the missing link in the chain of transmission, adding venues to a list of exposure sites, the NSW Government will seek to buy them more time.
Berejiklian announced that, from 5pm and until Monday, people in the greater Sydney area will be restricted to having no more than 20 people in their home.
Masks will be compulsory for indoor venues, with bans on singing and dancing (except for weddings and shows), and drinking in licensed premises will have to be seated. Berejiklian said outdoor events such as rugby league games would not be affected by the restrictions, but would not be drawn on the impact of players and staff having to isolate.
Berejiklian rejected a journalist’s comparison to measures imposed in Queensland and Western Australia, where there have been lockdowns in recent weeks, and said NSW had again opted for a “proportionate” response to the threat of further cases.
“Unlike other premiers we’re not shutting down the city,” Berejiklian said, adding that they would probably criticise her “light touch measures”.
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath and Chief Health Minister Jeannette Young are due to address the media in Brisbane this afternoon. They will outline any quarantine requirements or travel restrictions.
NSW Health contract tracers are working to identify any contacts and genome sequencing is underway, with results expected on Thursday.
More cases and venues of concern have been confirmed in NSW today. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said an infected couple at the centre of the outbreak had done everything right, including using QR codes at venues.
“This is a nasty virus that does not show any respect for humankind,” Hazzard said.
“It could be any one of us next.”
Queensland recorded three new cases of COVID-19 overnight, all detected in hotel quarantine.
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