Just weeks ago, Australia was the envy of the world with few Covid cases, packed out weddings, sunny interstate holidays and a booming nightlife creeping back.
But now millions in the Lucky Country are on tenterhooks, as states and territories battle outbreaks by calling snap lockdowns, closing borders and demanding quicker vaccine rollout.
Fears are growing the nation is on the edge of a deadly new wave of infections, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling an emergency national security committee meeting for Monday.
Sydney, which is enduring a two-week-long lockdown along with surrounding areas, saw its infections reach 112 on Sunday, with primary school children even infecting each other in the classroom.
The outbreak has even spread to Western Australia after a woman contracted the Delta strain from a stranger at a Bondi café before flying to Perth.
Fears are also growing over two other separate clusters in other states believed to be linked to the UK Alpha variant.
States shown in red have imposed restrictions after Covid cases were detected, the volume of which are shown by the number of virus clusters. A lock symbol indicates the capital city is in lockdown
Many were seen walking out in Sydney (pictured at Bondi Beach on Sunday) as the city endured the start of its two week lockdown
Several cases of the variant in Queensland, including two more on Sunday, have been traced to a Portuguese flight attendant who unwittingly transmitted the virus after landing in Queensland earlier this month.
Another Queensland-born outbreak is also wreaking havoc on the Northern Territory after a fly-in-fly-out miner in Central Australia is thought to have contracted Covid from a quarantine hotel in the Sunshine State before travelling to work at a gold mine – potentially exposing 900 others in the process.
The flood of cases across Australia has seen lockdowns and Covid restrictions imposed in NSW, parts of the NT and Western Australia, as interstate borders slam shut once again.
Thousands of beachgoers headed out for a day in the sun despite stay-at-home orders in place for all but essential activities (pictured, Bondi on Sunday)
New South Wales
New South Wales reported 30 new cases of Covid on the first full day of lockdown in Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Shellharbour and Woolongong on Sunday.
The host of cases were sparked by a limo driver in his 60s, who tested positive for Covid on June 16 – the first locally-acquired case in about 60 days at the time.
It’s believed the man from Sydney’s eastern suburbs, who was not vaccinated, contracted the virus as part of his job ferrying international flight crews.
Since then hundreds of venues have been flagged as exposure sites sending thousands of Sydneysiders into isolation and scrambling for a swab test.
Despite the initial fears the State’s resolute Premier Gladys Berejiklian was hesitant to send the Harbour city into a shut down, with the move set to cost Sydney’s economy about a billion dollars a week.
A police officer at Bondi beach speaks with residence as she enforces Covid compliance (pictured on Sunday) as lockdown began in Sydney
BORDER CLOSURES: STATE-BY-STATE
NSW: Open to all states and territories
– Border shut to Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Shellharbour areas of NSW, which are deemed red zones
– The border is also shut to Greater Darwin, another red zone
– The rest of NSW is an orange zone, meaning permits are needed
– Greater Brisbane in Queensland and the Perth metropolitan region, as well as Peel Region, in WA are also classed as orange zones, limiting travel
– Border shut to Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Shellharbour areas of NSW
– The rest of NSW must apply for border declaration pass, even if they live in a border town
– Some Melburnians also need to fill in a travel declaration
– Border closed to all of NSW
– People from ACT, NT, Queensland and Victoria must self-quarantine for 14 days or enter hotel quarantine
– Border closed to NSW, Queensland, WA, the NT and the ACT
– Victorians must get a test on the day they arrive
– Residents of Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Shellharbour areas of NSW must gain an exemption to enter, and must still abide by stay-at-home rules when in the ACT
– The border is shut to travellers from Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Shellharbour areas of NSW
– All other states and territories are still deemed ‘low risk’ as of Sunday night, so travellers need only to register their details with the state government
– But due to their own state’s travel restrictions, those under lockdown cannot go to Tasmania
– Border open to all, but people from areas with known exposure sites including NSW, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT must quarantine and get tested, rules for which vary state-by-state
But as the numbers continued to soar, Ms Berejiklian was forced to pull the trigger on the stay-at-home.
‘I do not regret a single decision we have taken because it has been based on health advice,’ she said.
‘Also when you are making a major decision to lock down millions and millions of people, you have to make sure it is based on health advice and not because you want to have zero cases every day.
‘It is not a decision you take lightly when you literally lockdown millions and millions of people but it is based on health advice.’
Stay-at-home orders are now set to remain in place until midnight on Friday July 9.
The host of cases were sparked by a limo driver in his 60s, who tested positive for Covid on June 16 – the first locally-acquired case in about 60 days at the time (pictured, walkers on Bondi Beach as lockdown began for Greater Sydney on Sunday)
South Coogee Public School (pictured) in Sydney’s east has been plunged into lockdown as two people connected to the school tested positive for Covid on Friday
The outbreak has even spread to a primary school, with all 550 students at South Coogee Public School deemed close contacts after two additional students tested positive to Covid-19 on Sunday.
The school previously sent a letter to parents on Friday to inform them that all staff and pupils needed to isolate under further notice, after an initial two pupils tested positive.
The students who tested positive on Sunday are close contacts of the two previously reported cases at the school, bringing the total number of positive tests to four.
The South Coogee cluster comes as Emanuel School in Randwick sent an email to parents on Sunday evening to notify them one of its student had tested positive.
An urgent alert for Sydney Airport was also announced after a confirmed case of Covid-19 spent five hours in the food court, as 13 new exposure sites were revealed late on Sunday night.
They included five busy public transport routes and several busy restaurants and cafes.
The food court in Sydney Airport’s T2 Domestic terminal in Mascot was visited by a confirmed case of Covid-19 on June 24, between 5am and 10am.
NEW EXPOSURE SITES ANNOUNCED SUNDAY NIGHT
Anyone who has attended the following venues at the times listed is a close contact and must immediately get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result
Mascot: T2 Domestic Terminal (food court) – Thursday June 24, 5am – 10am
Sydney Olympic Park: Burger and Salad Haus – Thursday June 24, 10.45am – 11.55am
Belmore: Crust Pizza – Friday June 25 – 4.30pm – 5pm
Croydon Park: 7-Eleven – Wednesday June 23 – 5.15am – 5.30am, Thursday June 24 – 5.15am – 5.30am and Friday June 25 – 5.15am – 5.30am
Darlinghurst: Chaco Ramen – Wednesday June 23, 12.35pm – 2.15pm
Sydney: Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café – Wednesday June 23, 2.25pm – 3.45pm
Sydney: Bentley Restaurant Bar – Wednesday June 23, 6.35pm – 10pm
Eastgardens: Tong Li Supermarket – Thursday June 24 – 3pm – 3.20pm
Mascot: Top Impression Bakery Cafe – Friday June 25 – 8.15am – 8.35am
Haymarket: Jarern Chai (Asian Grocer) – Friday June 25 – 1.10pm – 1.25pm
Anyone who has attended the following venues at the times listed is a casual contact and must immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received
Mascot: T2 Domestic Terminal – Thursday June 24, 5am – 10am
Lakemba: Woolworths – Thursday June 24, 7pm – 8pm
Eastgardens: Breadtop – Thursday June 24, 3.20pm – 3.25pm
Anyone who travelled on the following light rail routes at the times listed is a close contact and must immediately get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result
Light rail L3: Surry Hills to Chinatown, Wednesday June 23 – 1.45pm – 2.05pm
Light rail: Chinatown to Wynyard – Wednesday June 23, 6.20pm – 6.35pm
Light rail: Chinatown to Wynyard – Wednesday June 23, 9.50pm – 10.05pm
Anyone who travelled on the following train routes at the times listed is a casual contact and must immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received
T1 train line: Central to Mascot – Thursday June 24, 8.08am – 8.20am
T1 train line: Central to Mascot – Friday June 25, 8.07am – 8.20am
A health workers at the Bondi drive-thru clinic performs a swab test (pictured on Sunday) as the Bondi cluster grew to 110 cases, with two more mystery cases lingering in Sydney
Sydney’s worrying outbreak has also spread to the west coast after a woman dined in a Bondi café at the same time as an infected Sydneysider.
The physiotherapist ate lunch at Lyfe Café in Sydney’s east before flying home to Perth on June 20, when she returned a negative Covid test.
Premier Mark McGowan responded with sweeping restrictions to the Perth and the Peel region in an attempt to curb any further spread.
Face masks will be mandatory for at least the next three days on public transport, all indoor settings and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible.
All public events that cannot be restricted to under 150 people must be cancelled.
Sunday’s AFL match between West Coast Eagles and Western Bulldogs went ahead without any spectators.
A 30-person limit has also been introduced for all private gatherings, while hospitality, retail and entertainment venues must now comply with the two square metre rule.
Weddings and funerals will be permitted to proceed with no more than 150 attendees.
The AFL match between West Coast Eagles and Western Bulldogs went ahead without any spectators (pictured, the empty Optus Stadium on Sunday)
Players at Optus Stadium leap for the ball with nobody in the stands watching on (pictured on Sunday) after WA brought in a string of restrictions
An empty Darwin is seen on Sunday night (pictured) as the city entered a 48-hour lockdown
Darwin has gone into a snap 48-hour lockdown after the Northern Territory recorded four new Covid-19 cases linked to an outbreak at a gold mine, bringing the total number of infections to five.
The man, who is believed to have been unknowingly infectious from June 18, then travelled to the Granites Mine in central Australia, 540km northwest of Alice Springs.
His diagnosis has forced the mine to shut down and 754 workers to isolate on-site.
The announcement was made at a press conference on Sunday morning by Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner, who said the lockdown would start at 1pm local time.
‘We are assuming the worst,’ Mr Gunner said.
‘We are expecting more cases. There is a stronger chance that any new cases will have exposure sites which makes the job of tracing and testing much bigger.’
A miner working at the Granites Gold Mine (pictured) in remote Central Australia has tested positive to coronavirus
About 900 FIFO workers who were at the site (above) at the same time as the infected man have since left and travelled to a number of airports, sparking a contact tracing nightmare
At first it was believed the minter may have contracted the virus while in a Brisbane quarantine hotel as the man staying opposite was infected with the UK Alpha strain.
But now NT health authorities have not ruled out the possibility it could be the more infectious Indian Delta variant ravaging Sydney.
NT residents are only allowed to leave their homes for five reasons, including medical treatment and Covid testing, to buy groceries, go to work if it is considered essential, or to care for sick family members.
Territorians in hotspots are only allowed to exercise for one hour a day with one other person they live with, and they will not be allowed to travel further than 5km away from home.
Queues of panic buyers throughout Darwin were pictured stripping shelves bare as residents prepared for the snap lockdown.
One case linked to the mine worker has also been reported back in the New England Hunter region in New South Wales, sparking fears of another outbreak in the state.
About 750 miners were sent into isolation following the man’s positive test.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said ‘We’ll do everything we can to test, trace and track this virus, will always do whatever it takes to keep you safe’. He is pictured getting the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination at a Darwin GP clinic in March
Queensland has introduced sweeping restrictions to stem the spread of Covid after two new cases of the virus were recorded in the community overnight on Sunday.
A retail worker at the DFO shopping centre near Brisbane Airport tested positive for the virus before her partner also developed symptoms.
There are also reports the person worked at a police watch house, and officers are working to determine when the woman may have worked her last shift and whether she was infectious at the time.
Neither of the new cases are the Indian Delta variant and are suspected to be linked to the infected Portuguese flight attendant who travelled to the Sunshine State earlier this month.
State of Origin went ahead on Sunday night (pictured) and was a resounding victory for NSW – but fans were told to be cautious of the recent outbreaks, with masks mandatory when not sat down
But Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young said she was ‘very concerned’ about the new cases, confirming both people have visited an extensive 26-long list of locations throughout Brisbane, including gyms and restaurants.
One of the new cases, while living in Brisbane, travels an hour north to work in the Sunshine Coast each day, prompting restrictions to be brought back in.
Pubs, clubs and cafés will revert to the one person per two square metre rule, while private gatherings at homes will be limited to 100 people.
People in Queensland who travelled from Sydney are required to follow the two-week lockdown that was introduced in NSW from 10am Sunday.
The restrictions will last as long as the Sydney lockdown remains in place.
A total of 26 exposure sites were announced on Sunday, including the Cotton On at Brisbane Airport on Saturday June 19, and a McDonald’s at Glass House Mountains on Tuesday June 22.
A retail worker at the DFO shopping centre near Brisbane Airport tested positive for the virus before her partner also developed symptoms – with 26 related exposure sites now listed
There were zero new locally acquired Covid cases in Victoria on Sunday, but health authorities remain on high alert after it was revealed a flight attendant who later tested positive stayed at a Melbourne hotel while infectious.
The cabin crew member stayed on the 10th floor of the Holiday Inn Express on City Road in Southbank on June 25 and 26 after landing on flight VA334 from Brisbane.
The floor she stayed on, the lobby and the Great Room Bar and Restaurant has now been declared exposure sites.
The cabin crew member stayed on the 10th floor of the Holiday Inn Express on City Road in Southbank (pictured) on June 25 and 26 after landing on flight VA334 from Brisbane.
Infected flight attendant sparks long list of Covid exposure sites in Melbourne
Southbank Holiday Inn Express Melbourne Southbank- any other areas in the hotel not listed. Case attended venue on 25/06/2021 between 6:00pm – 11:59pm. Tier 3 – Monitor for symptoms
Southbank Holiday Inn Express Melbourne Southbank – any other areas in the hotel not listed. Case attended on 26/06/2021 between 12:00am – 6:45am. Tier 3 – Monitor for symptoms
Southbank Holiday Inn Express Melbourne Southbank – 10th floor. Case stayed on 25/06/2021 between 6:15pm – 11:59pm. Tier 2 – Get tested urgently and isolate until you have a negative result
Southbank Holiday Inn Express Melbourne Southbank – 10th floor. Case stayed on 26/06/2021 between 12:00am – 6:45am. Tier 2 – Get tested urgently and isolate until you have a negative result
Southbank Holiday Inn Express Melbourne Southbank- Ground Floor Lobby and The Great Room Bar & Restaurant. Case attended 25/06/2021 between 6:00pm – 6:45pm. Tier 2 – Get tested urgently and isolate until you have a negative result
Southbank Holiday Inn Express Melbourne Southbank – Ground Floor Lobby and The Great Room Bar & Restaurant. Case attended 26/06/2021 between 6:00am – 6:45am. Tier 2 – Get tested urgently and isolate until you have a negative result
Melbourne Airport – Terminal 2 (all public areas). Case attended 26/06/2021 between 6:30am – 7:30am. Tier 2 – Get tested urgently and isolate until you have a negative result
Melbourne Airport – Axil Coffee Roasters T2 LS02. Case attended on 26/06/2021 betwen 6:30am – 7:30am. Tier 2 – Get tested urgently and isolate until you have a negative result
Melbourne Airport – Terminal 3 (all public areas). Case attended 25/06/2021 between 5:20pm – 6:50pm. Tier 2 – Get tested urgently and isolate until you have a negative result
Melbourne Airport – Terminal 3 (all public areas). Case attended 26/06/2021 between 8:00am – 9:00am. Tier 2 – Get tested urgently and isolate until you have a negative result
Virgin Flight VA334 Brisbane to Melbourne. Case took flight from Brisbane to Melbourne 25/06/2021 between 2:55pm – 5:20pm. Tier 1 – Get tested immediately and quarantine for 14 days from exposure
Health authorities across the state are now desperately trying to contact the 128 passengers and 43 aircrew who have been identified as close contacts of the infected woman.
Under the state’s strict border measures anyone entering the state from a Covid hotspot must have a permit.
Acting Premier James Merlino said an operation involving 200 officers is now underway to stop illegal entry to Victoria, particularly from Covid-ravaged NSW.
‘Victoria Police so far are reporting a high level of compliance, people who try to cross the border without the appropriate permits are being turned around,’ Mr Merlino said.
Police are seen at the border in South Australia at Pinnaroo near Victoria (pictured) as it slammed the border shut to most other states and territories
Tasmania, the ACT and South Australia
Tasmania, the ACT and South Australia have so far managed to avoid any positive cases.
South Australia has slammed its border shut to those from NSW, Queensland, WA and the Northern Territory.
Tasmania has closed its border to Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Shellharbour areas of NSW.
The ACT is still open for travellers outside known Covid hotspots, but some exemptions are required.