On Friday, states and territories implemented boundary restrictions after 28 COVID-19 cases were reported in Sydney, Christmas travel plans for thousands of Australians were plunged into turmoil, with concerns that infections could spread countrywide.
Around a quarter of a million residents were ordered to stay home and wear masks at other venues on Sydney’s northern beaches, where the cases were discovered.
Hundreds of cancellations were announced by restaurants in the region, which predicted a prosperous Christmas trade, wiping out chances of an economic rebound from earlier virus waves.
An “urgent call” was given by NSW health authorities to all state residents to check for signs of COVID-19, saying reported cases from Sydney’s northern beaches have visited a variety of locations around Sydney, the most populous city in Australia.
On Friday, several people flocked to Sydney airport to try and travel away from the province, anticipating extreme border closures. When they arrived in another territory, some travelers who left NSW were put in immediate hotel quarantine for 14 days.
Authorities have identified two clubs as the initial transmitting sites at Avalon beach, but are still attempting to track down patient zero, and have released more than 30 possible secondary transmission points as far as the east and south of the city’s Bondi and Cronulla beaches.
In the northern beach area, major public facilities, such as swimming pools and playgrounds, have been closed and visitors have been banned from age-care facilities.
Both beaches along the coastal length of 29 km (18 miles) remained closed until Monday.
On Friday, in a replay of frenzied scenes earlier in the year when the coronavirus first reached Australia, local media reported shoppers emptying shelves at a store on the northern beaches.
Since the pandemic started, Australia has reported just over 28,000 cases of coronavirus and 908 deaths and reports that the most active cases in the world are returning in hotel quarantine to overseas travelers.