A year in love, but lockdown leaves couple short of sunshine

Having got together as the pandemic hit Australia, Jess Abrill and Rick Hayden had hoped to mark one year as a couple with a trip to the Sunshine Coast over Easter.

They cancelled their trip after Brisbane’s snap three-day lockdown prompted Victoria to, in effect, shut its border to the region.

The couple had planned only to transit through the northern capital, but that was enough to risk 14 days’ quarantine on their return, which would mean Mr Hayden could not work in his job as a carpenter.

“We’re not cancelling because we want to,” said Ms Abrill. “We understand the situation and it’s for the best, I guess. We’re quite sad and disappointed. We feel like we’re stuck in Melbourne with not many choices because everything is booked out.”

Acting Premier James Merlino said on Tuesday morning that Victoria was unlikely to lift its red zone classification for Greater Brisbane as soon as the lockdown ended.

Mr Merlino said he hoped Victoria could maintain localised restrictions rather than a travel ban on all of Queensland as the state’s coronavirus outbreak grew to 15 cases. He urged Victorians not to travel to Queensland.

“I know it’s a difficult time of the year, people had plans. But at the moment, for the next few days, we’re discouraging people from travel,” Mr Merlino said, as Victoria recorded its 32nd consecutive day with no community cases of coronavirus.

There is just one active case of COVID-19 in Victoria – an international airline crew member in hotel quarantine. There were 12,892 tests processed on Monday.



Ms Abrill said the Hoppers Crossing couple had to fight a resort in Noosa to get a $390 deposit back on their accommodation.

“It’s still not an easy process like it should be,” said Ms Abrill.

According to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission guidelines, customer refunds are dependent on the terms and conditions of the service provider at the time of booking.

Geelong mother-of-two Vanessa Eldridge said she was out of pocket $500 in accommodation fees after cancelling a family holiday to Noosa over the Easter long weekend.

“I deliberately chose a partially refundable cancellation because I had a gut feeling something was going to happen,” she said. “We were going to meet some friends who are also from Geelong, but they have had to cancel their accommodation and lost $4000.”

Ms Eldridge said she could not find accommodation in her price range in Victoria because of Easter and school holiday demand.

“I’ve rung quite a few places and left my number,” she said. “It’s all pretty much booked out or there’s some availability for only two or three days,” which Ms Eldridge feels isn’t worth the time spent travelling from Geelong.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said six of the eight new cases recorded on Tuesday were close contacts of confirmed cases and another two were under investigation.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned her state would probably record fresh coronavirus cases, as more Byron Bay venues were placed on alert after a group who travelled from Queensland for a hen’s party later tested positive for coronavirus.

Victorians in Greater Brisbane can apply for a permit to fly back into Victoria, but must go straight to their homes and quarantine for 14 days.

Byron Bay in NSW and Gladstone in central Queensland were declared orange zones on Monday evening, meaning anyone in Victoria who was in either place after March 26 must isolate, get a coronavirus test within 72 hours, and stay home until they receive a negative result.

The Brisbane lockdown has caused headaches for major sporting codes, with the AFL planning to shift a number of games slated for this weekend to other cities. Brisbane Lions men’s team is grounded in Melbourne and the Sydney Swans men’s team is isolating at home but have an exemption for training after they were in Brisbane for round one.

The NRL has also instructed its clubs to call back any players who planned to play in the Queensland Cup competition this weekend.

Mr Merlino revealed on Tuesday that 86,000 front-line workers and members of high-risk groups had received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

“We’ll deliver as many as we’re supplied from the Commonwealth, but as we go through the course of the year, you get more and more particularly vulnerable cohorts vaccinated, then that does lower the risk in terms of the decisions,” he said.

With Roy Ward, Lydia Lynch, Cloe Read

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