A popular men’s clothing store and a bottle shop are among the latest venues in NSW to be hit with COVID alerts and there are new rules on masks.
A popular men’s clothing store and a bottle shop are among the latest venues in NSW to be hit with COVID alerts and there are new rules on masks.

Coronavirus live: Hillsong alert and one new Queensland case

NSW has tightened rules including making a huge change to mask wearing laws: READ BELOW FOR OUR ONGOING LIVE VIRUS COVERAGE

 

Victoria has recorded 10 new locally acquired cases of coronavirus, including two cases that tested positive in NSW.

The 10 cases doubles the 5 new locally acquired cases reported on Friday, the first day of 2021.

It comes as a man and a woman from NSW allegedly "fled" from officers at Melbourne Airport after arriving on a flight from Canberra at around 11am on Friday.

The 26-year-old man and 24-year-old woman normally reside in NSW.

After being spoken to by officers at the airport they were informed they'd have to quarantine for 14 days, at which point they allegedly ran from the officer, and were picked up by a vehicle that took them away from the airport.

It's understood police have tracked the couple down and an update is expected later today.

The border breach at the airport comes as cars were turned away from the border at midnight. 

Yesterday Jeroen Weimar, the Victorian Health Department's COVID-19 response commander, justified the state's hardline stance.

"We need to close the border, because we do not wish to continue to import high-risk COVID cases back into Victoria," Mr Weimar said.

"We do not think that would be right or fair for the Victorian community.

"We do not have the capacity to put hundreds of people into hotel quarantine because they elected to come home late.

Some people rushing to the border last night had travelled from as far away as Queensland.

Photographer Simon Dallinger was at the Hume Freeway checkpoint. He reported that the last people allowed through, seconds before midnight, were Kelli Rippon and Rachel Bartlett. The pair had travelled from Brisbane to Dubbo, and then to Victoria.

They made it just in time. Others were not so lucky.

Health authorities in Victoria believe the virus has been spreading there for almost two weeks.

All 10 cases reported since Wednesday either dined at the Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Black Rock on December 21, or are close contacts of others who did.

"We know we have a likely starting point to December 21 - that is now at 10 or 11 days ago," Mr Weimar said yesterday.

Across the border in NSW, three new infections were identified in Western Sydney yesterday.

Contact tracers are now scrambling to link the new cases to existing clusters.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned tighter restrictions could be introduced across Greater Sydney if more cases arise without known links.

READ ON FOR MORE CORONAVIRUS NEWS

 

One new case in Queensland

Jack Gramenz

Queensland has recorded one new case of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, acquired overseas.

The person is now in hospital.

There are 13 active cases in Qld.

Two cases in Qld have been linked to a South African strain of coronavirus in the past week.

New alerts in Victorian outbreak

Jack Gramenz

Victoria has updated its list of public exposure sites visited by confirmed COVID-19 cases, including a number of restaurants and bars.

Four new venues have been added to the Victoria Department of Health and Human Services' case locations list on Saturday afternoon.

The include:

  • Fonda Mexican Restaurant on Flinders Lane in the CBD between 6pm and 7pm, Tuesday December 29
  • Left Bank Melbourne bar at Southbank on Christmas Day from 12pm to 2.30pm
  • Rockpool Bar and Grill at Crown Casino December 23 from 1pm and 1.30pm
  • European Bier Cafe on Exhibition Street in Melbourne CBD on December 21 8pm to 9.30pm.

 

NSW opposition leader said masks should have been mandated "before now"

Jack Gramenz

After several months of calling for masks to be compulsory in Sydney and just a few hours after a tweet reiterating her support for the measure, NSW opposition leader Jodi McKay has welcomed the state "finally mandating" them.

 

"The increasing number of indoor locations shows why this should have been a health order before now," Ms McKay said.

New alerts for Blacktown shops, Hillsong church

Jack Gramenz

A number of new western Sydney venues visited by confirmed COVID-19 cases have been revealed by NSW Health, including a shopping centre, a popular chicken shop, and a megachurch.

In addition to the alerts mentioned by chief health officer Kerry Chant on Saturday morning for Australian Motor Traders at Haberfield and Punchbowl Officeworks, new alerts have been issued for the Westpoint shopping centre at Blacktown, as well the El Jannah restaurant and Services NSW office in the same suburb.

A confirmed case also visited the Hills Campus of the Hillsong Church at Norwest.

A case visited Blacktown's Westpoint and El Jannah on Monday December 28, visiting the shopping centre between 2.40pm and 3.20pm and the chicken shop from 3.20pm to 4pm.

A confirmed case visited Services NSW Blacktown service centre on Wednesday December 30 between 12.15pm and 1pm.

A confirmed case visited the Hills Campus Hillsong on Tuesday December 29 between 8pm and 8.45pm.

 

Huge queues to be tested as people turned away

Jack Gramenz

Victoria's expanded testing operations are still struggling to cope with demand as residents queue for hours to be tested, with some even being turned away at three locations that were over capacity.

One news.com.au reader provided this image from a testing centre at East Ringwood in Melbourne's east on Saturday morning.

 

The facility above is one of four new pop-up testing locations including:

  • Eastern Health - East Ringwood Reserve (former Maroondah Club), East Ringwood
  • Monash Health - Don Tatnell Leisure Centre (Parkdale), Parkdale
  • Wantirna Trash and Treasure Market (Wantirna)
  • Wantirna State Basketball Centre, Wantirna South

 

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services keeps a list of testing locations and their approximate wait times live on its website if they are expected to be over half an hour.

At around noon on Saturday, the wait to get tested at Monash Health Berwick was up to four hours.

Roxburgh Park Youth and Recreation Centre faced three hour wait times while Western Health at Melbourne Showgrounds drive-through testing was taking two and half hours.

Monash Health on Cleeland St at Dandenong had a two hour wait time.

People were being turned away from three different testing locations after too many presented for testing.

Chadstone Golfers Drive, Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, and Springers Leisure Centre were all over capacity at around noon on Saturday.

New facilities with expanded operating hours are being brought in to cope with demand.

People were already queuing up to be tested at 7am on Saturday according to Victoria's coronavirus testing commander Jeroen Weimar.

"As we saw through our second wave, it is by working together and by people heading out and getting tested, by all the work that we're doing on the border, that we collectively work together to get on top of this particular outbreak," Mr Weimar said.

Staff who were on holiday are coming back to help with testing, with Mr Weimar saying "hundreds of people" were coming back in from planned leave.

 

'No surprises' in restrictions

Jack Gramenz

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said none of the restrictions being brought back in the state should come as a surprise.

From midnight Saturday, masks will be compulsory on public transport, in shops and other indoor venues in the Greater Sydney area. which includes the Central Coast, Wollongong, Nepean and the Blue Mountains.

Fines of $250 apply for non-compliance and will start being enforced on Monday.

"In addition, we are reducing gym classes back down to 30, currently it is at 50," Ms Berejiklian said.

"No nightclubs, no surprises, you cannot dance or sing at this time.
"Weddings, funerals or places of worship, we are reducing to 100 at this point in time and are subject to the four square metre rule.

"We are capping weddings, funerals and places of worship and we want to prevent any super spreading event."

Masks compulsory in NSW with fines attached

Jack Gramenz

Masks will be compulsory on public transport, in shopping centres and other indoor venues like cinemas and hair salons with $250 fines for non-compliance in NSW beginning on Monday.

The mask mandate begins at midnight Saturday but enforcement won't begin until Monday.

NSW has been strongly recommending masks on public transport and other indoor areas but those outside the government have been calling for a mandate for compulsory mask wearing for some time.

"We've been talking about this for months and months," Ms Berejiklian said.

"The reason it's happening now is we want to give confidence to business to continue their activity in NSW so long as you wear a mask in those indoor settings."

Concerns for transmission in western Sydney

Jack Gramenz

Health authorities in NSW are concerned about community transmission in western Sydney with "a number of venue exposures" causing concern.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant called out a number of specific venues at an update on Saturday morning.

They include:

  • BWS Berala between Tuesday December 22 and Thursday December 31
  • Australian Motor Traders Haberfield on December 29 between 4.30 and 5pm
  • Punchbowl Officeworks on December 29 between 3.35pm and 3.45pm

Concerns for transmission in western Sydney

Jack Gramenz

Health authorities in NSW are concerned about community transmission in western Sydney with "a number of venue exposures" causing concern.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant called out a number of specific venues at an update on Saturday morning.

They include:

  • BWS Berala between Tuesday December 22 and Thursday December 31
  • Australian Motor Traders Haberfield on December 29 between 4.30 and 5pm
  • Punchbowl Officeworks on December 29 between 3.35pm and 3.45pm

Mystery persists over virus' path to Victoria

Jack Gramenz

Genomic sequencing has linked Victoria's coronavirus outbreak to an outbreak in NSW, but it's not yet been determined how the virus managed to get back into Victoria.

Victorian health minister Martin Foley provided an update on Saturday morning, where he reported the 10 new locally acquired cases had been linked to a cluster at a Thai restaurant in bayside suburb Black Rock, and that the virus had come from NSW.

"We've yet to establish exactly the vehicle that has done that but we have established the science that has had that happen," Mr Foley said.

"From there, so far all of the cases that have been identified have been linked back to that cluster."

 

Outbreak close contacts grow to hundreds

Jack Gramenz

Victoria's coronavirus outbreak, now linked to the outbreak in NSW, has led to 29 active cases in the state as contact tracers work to find those who may have been in contact with infected people.

Overnight the number of close contacts more than quadrupled, from 50 to 220, as locally acquired cases doubled from five to 10.

Two of those cases were already identified by NSW authorities after they tested positive in the state before returning home to Victoria.

18 cases have now been linked to an outbreak at Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Black Rock.

It's not yet known how the virus travelled from NSW to Victoria.

 

Mystery persists over virus' path to Victoria

Jack Gramenz

Genomic sequencing has linked Victoria's coronavirus outbreak to an outbreak in NSW, but it's not yet been determined how the virus managed to get back into Victoria.

Victorian health minister Martin Foley provided an update on Saturday morning, where he reported the 10 new locally acquired cases had been linked to a cluster at a Thai restaurant in bayside suburb Black Rock, and that the virus had come from NSW.

"We've yet to establish exactly the vehicle that has done that but we have established the science that has had that happen," Mr Foley said.

"From there, so far all of the cases that have been identified have been linked back to that cluster."

 

Testing expanded in Victoria

Jack Gramenz

Victorians are being encouraged to get tested but to plan ahead and be patient, as testing facilities are expanded in the state.

New facilities with expanded operating hours are being brought in to cope with demand.

People were already queuing up to be tested at 7am on Saturday according to Victoria's coronavirus testing commander Jeroen Weimar.

"As we saw through our second wave, it is by working together and by people heading out and getting tested, by all the work that we're doing on the border, that we collectively work together to get on top of this particular outbreak," Mr Weimar said.

Staff who were on holiday are coming back to help with testing, with Mr Weimar saying "hundreds of people" were coming back in from planned leave.

A full list of testing locations is available on the Victorian health department's website.

32m agoJanuary 2, 2021HIGHLIGHT

'No apologies' for border closure as Victorian outbreak linked to NSW

Jack Gramenz

Victorian health minister Martin Foley and coronavirus testing commander Jeroen Weimar are providing an update on the state's COVID-19 situation and response.

On Saturday, Victoria reported 10 new locally acquired cases and two in hotel quarantine, from 18,337 tests.

All of the local cases are linked to the Black Rock Thai restaurant cluster.

Two of the locally acquired cases tested positive in NSW and were already reported by NSW health authorities, but they are included in Victoria's numbers as they are residents who returned to the state legally after receiving their positive result.

There are 29 total active cases.

Genomic sequencing has linked Victoria's outbreak to the NSW cluster.

Health minister Martin Foley thanked the 900 police and SES volunteers who have been enforcing the border closure with NSW.

"I want to also acknowledge that the border closure, based on public health advice, has caused significant disruption for returning travellers and regrettably will also cause disruption for our border communities," Mr Foley said, but added "we make no apologies for closing the border".

 

 

 

 

 

NSW ISSUES ALERT FOR MORE PLACES

Shoppers at a popular men's clothing store have been urged to monitor for symptoms after the business was listed as a potential coronavirus exposure site.

A positive case visited Culture Kings on George St in Sydney's CBD on Monday December 28.

Anyone who was there between 1pm and 2pm should get tested immediately if any symptoms develop.

Health authorities also expanded an alert for a bottle shop in Sydney's west.

The department said anyone who visited at the below times should get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.

BERALA: BWS on Woodburn Road, December 22 from 12.45pm to 9.15pm, December 23 from 12.45pm to 9.15pm, December 27 from 12.45pm to 8.15pm, December 29 1.45pm to 9.15pm, December 30 from 12.45pm to 9.15pm and December 31 from 8.30am to 5pm.

Other alerts issued on Friday include two locations on the south coast which were visited by infectious Victorians.

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said the two positive cases travelled from Victoria to NSW on December 30 and dined at the Great Southern Hotel in Eden between 5pm and 6.30pm.

The cases are believed to be linked to the Smile Buffalo Thai Restaurant in the bayside suburb of Black Rock, Melbourne.

They received an alert while on a road trip in NSW on December 31 informing them they were close contacts of another case.

They were tested in NSW and have since returned to Victoria to isolate.

Two Victorians visited south coast venues while infectious. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ David Crosling
Two Victorians visited south coast venues while infectious. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ David Crosling

One of the cases also ate at the Bermi's Beachside Cafe in Bermagui between 9am and 10am on December 31.

Further investigations revealed a case from the Croydon cluster and a case from Wollongong both attended the Swallowed Anchor restaurant in Wollongong.

Anyone who attended the Swallowed Anchor at any time on December 19 must get tested and self-isolate until they receive further advice from NSW Health.

Originally published as Latest venues on virus alert


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