Brisbane’s lockdown ended at 6pm on Saturday despite the state recording five new Covid-19 cases, including one not linked to an existing outbreak.
Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, told reporters on Saturday morning that the state was “not out of the woods yet” and that some restrictions, including mask mandates, would remain in place, but that the snap lockdown announced last week would end.
“We are doing a lot of work but we believe that our contact tracers can get on top of those issues very carefully,” she said.
Of the new cases only one – a man in his 50s who worked as a baggage handler at the Brisbane domestic airport and lived in Carindale – was not linked to a previous case.
The man tested positive following a testing blitz of some 700 airport workers after a couple who worked there tested positive earlier this week.
Other new cases included a 29-year-old Brisbane man related to a Carindale woman who tested positive on Friday, and a woman in her 50s who had worked a shift at the Prince Charles hospital in Brisbane while infectious.
But despite the new cases, Palaszczuk said crowds would be allowed at two football games scheduled over the weekend, while the state’s chief medical officer, Dr Jeannette Young, said she was comfortable ending the lockdown because health authorities had “the last four days to really get hold of people and work it through”.
“And because I think Queenslanders know what to do,” she said. “They have been doing this now for 18 months, and we’ve got more things at our disposal.
“As I said, a year ago we didn’t have masks because there weren’t any in the world. We didn’t have the QR check-in code. And we didn’t know a lot. We were still working through it. We know all of that now.”
Other restrictions to remain in place included venue capacity limits and restrictions on dancing at venues, but Palaszczuk also urged vulnerable residents to limit movement.
“Our vulnerable group, our people aged over 70. Look, over the next 13 days, please, if you are unvaccinated, please limit your going out,” she said.
“You know, close family is fine, but please limit and think about, you know, whether or not you need to go to a shopping centre, whether friends or family can drop some food over to you.
“Because we do know there is virus out there. So we need everyone to pull together and act cooperatively and put our trust in one another, and really think about the most vulnerable people in our community.”
Meanwhile the Northern Territory recorded zero new Covid-19 cases after its snap lockdown ended this week, while Western Australia also recorded no new cases.
The WA premier, Mark McGowan, said he hoped restrictions would ease on Tuesday and confirmed that 96% of close contacts linked to the cluster in Perth’s northern suburbs had now tested negative.
Perth’s lockdown ended on Friday, but patron limits and mask mandates remained in place.
On Saturday McGowan also responded to the New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian’s comment that she was “disappointed” national cabinet had agreed to restrict the number of Australians returning from overseas.
Labor premiers including McGowan had successfully pushed to cap the number of citizens who can enter Australia, despite Berejiklian arguing the cap would not reduce the risk of hotel quarantine breaches.
“Well, she agreed to it,” McGowan said. “If she didn’t agree to it she could have a different approach if she wanted to, but she agreed to it.
“You cannot go into the meeting and agree to something and come out and say you do not agree with it. It is not really the Australian way.”