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Tale of two cities: Sydney's 112 new cases; Brisbane ready for dancing, footy

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Queensland is set to ease restrictions on Friday morning after another day with no community transmission of COVID-19. The interstate border even remains open – for now.

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After a weekend with no community transmission, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this morning said the only new case of COVID-19 was detected in an overseas traveller already in hotel quarantine.

That indicated the five recent outbreaks, that resulted in much of the south-east and Townsville being plunged into lockdown, had been contained, paving the way for restrictions to be eased.

By contrast, NSW recorded 112 community transmissions overnight, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian warning worse was to come.

“Family or close friends, unfortunately, bear the brunt of those 112 we have seen overnight,” Berejiklian said on Monday.

“If you put yourself at risk, you’re putting your entire family – and that means extended family, as well as your closest friends and associates – at risk.”

NSW has now recorded almost 680 COVID-19 cases in the community since June 16, when the Bondi cluster first emerged.

Some 18 COVID-19 patients in NSW are in intensive care, with four ventilated.

Palaszczuk said, from 6am Friday, hospitals, aged care and other vulnerable facilities would be able to accept visitors again, masks would no longer be mandatory outside of airports, and businesses and venues could ease their social distancing requirements.

“You can go dancing again,” Palaszczuk told Queenslanders in a press conference streamed on social media.

On Wednesday, Queensland will play host to the third State of Origin game, which had to be moved from Newcastle to the Gold Coast due to COVID-19 concerns. The remainder of the National Rugby League season will now also be played in the state, with clubs set to establish their own hotel ‘bubbles’ for players, staff and families and use local stadia.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles extended his sympathies to people in lockdown and said it was crucial for the nation that the Greater Sydney outbreak be brought under control.

“One way we can assist them is by ensuring that they can all have footy to watch on TV,” said Miles, a rugby league fan.

Palaszczuk acknowledged Queensland could end up hosting an NRL grand final if Sydney was still a danger zone. Brisbane last year hosted the AFL grand final after the Aussie Rules spectacular had to be moved out of Melbourne.

While Sydney’s COVID-19 numbers are expected to keep rising, Queensland is so far content with using a hotspot declaration – requiring 14-day hotel quarantine for travellers from the affected areas – rather than impose a ‘hard border’ with all of NSW.

However, Palaszczuk warned hotel quarantine might not even be an option in future, and urged Queenslanders to “think seriously, long and hard, about what you’re doing and if you can come home”.

Over the weekend, Victoria eased its threat level classification of destinations in south-east Queensland from red – as it was for Sydney – to orange, but at midnight imposed a hard order on NSW and the ACT. Western Australia already had a hard border.

Already, there are concerns an infected traveller from Greater Sydney has taken the virus to Victoria and South Australia.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Jeannette Young, said she would continue to consider NSW case numbers and locations, any wastewater surveillance detections outside of Greater Sydney, and how her interstate counterparts were dealing with the outbreak.

Young also cautioned that Queensland was still awaiting tests from people in home quarantine to confirm the easing of restrictions. The most recent day in which an infected person was in the community was July 5.

With the NRL set to bring hundreds of people into Queensland from other states, Young and Palaszczuk insisted they would be under surveillance.

Queensland continues to benefit from the reduced cap on international arrivals.

 

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