A worker at a bowling club where 18 people were infected with coronavirus said it was near impossible to enforce social distancing.
Hal Higgs is a worker at the Avalon Bowlo, in Sydney’s northern beaches, which is one of the two venues that authorities have linked to the cluster outbreak that now sits at 28.
More than 270,000 people from Spit Bridge to Palm Beach have been told to self-isolate for three days as authorities rush to trace ‘patient zero’, who they believe could be part of an international flight crew.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said on Friday the cases are all linked so far to an event at the Avalon RSL on December 11, and a drinking session at the Bowlo on December 13.
Mr Higgs spoke to the Today Show and revealed he had been working at the bowling club when the super spreader visited the venue on Sunday
Hal Higgs is a worker at the Avalon Bowlo, in Sydney’s northern beaches, which is one of the two venues that authorities have linked to the cluster outbreak that now sits at 28
Of those cases, eight attended the RSL last Friday, sixteen cases went to the bowling club on Sunday, two cases attended both pubs and two further cases had an unspecified ‘link’ to either event.
Mr Higgs described the scene as he was working at the bowling club when the suspected super spreader visited the venue on Sunday.
He said the dance floor was only just reopened, which made it difficult for workers to monitor the very enthusiastic revellers.
‘Due to a lot of the restrictions being lifted, you know, we had one of the first kind of days on the weekend where we had a band and the dance floor was back up and running,’ he told the Today show.
‘We were still at the bowling club, we were still at the bowling club, we were still practising very safe kind of social distancing, we were trying to restrict as much, you know, contact as possible.
Ground zero: A party at Avalon RSL on Friday, December 11 has been linked to the virus outbreak on the northern beaches
‘But what can you really do in situations like that where you’ve got people finally being able to dance and finally being able to dance and finally being able to enjoy one of their Sundays on a great afternoon listening to some live music.’
The dance floors were reopened as the NSW government eased restrictions – allowing 50 people to dance and doubling the number of patrons in venues.
Though the fresh outbreak has forced the workers and their families to get tested for Covid-19 and self-isolate for 14 days.
Mr Higgs said it completely derailed his family’s Christmas plans and would force the celebrations to be much smaller.
‘We were thinking about big family Christmas, hoping for the possibility of grandparents and cousins and, you know, all coming together in the one place. Making it seem like a normal Christmas from the past year we’ve had,’ he said.
‘But now all of this stuff has come in we’re trying to understand, you know, how we could manufacture a Christmas that enables everybody to enjoy themselves.’
A legion of NSW contact tracers are working frantically to see if they can link the escaped virus to a hotel quarantine breach or to arriving international flight crew.
‘We’ve had a significant seeding event,’ Dr Chant said.
Genomic testing has confirmed the Covid strain is of American origin and likely entered the country from the United States.
Dr Chant said it was ‘possible’ the source of the infection was from an international flight crew.
A member of the band Nothing Too Serious tested positive after performing at the Avalon RSL on December 11.
More than 270,000 people from Spit Bridge to Palm Beach have been told to self-isolate for three days as authorities rush to trace ‘patient zero’, who they believe could be an international traveller (pictured, residents queue outside a Covid-19 testing clinic)
A legion of NSW contact tracers are working frantically to see if they can link the escaped virus to a hotel quarantine breach or to arriving international flight crew (pictured, cars lining up at a Covid-19 testing clinic at Avalon)
He then attended two gigs elsewhere in the city, raising fears the virus has been ‘seeded’ across the greater metropolitan area.
The man was on stage at Penrith RSL in the Sydney’s far west between 1pm and 6pm on December 13 and at the Kirribilli Club in the city’s north on December 14.
A divorced couple living in Avalon on the northern beaches were among the first residents to test positive to the virus on Wednesday.
Authorities fear the divorced couple could have spread the virus throughout the beaches, amid claims they failed to self-isolate after being tested.
While infectious, the woman attended the local change rooms at Palm Beach. One or both went to cafes, a Woolworths supermarket and a local pie shop.
One had travelled to the ‘Bowlo’ on Sunday. An aged care worker was reportedly on the dance floor that afternoon and has since tested positive.
A third Bowlo patron has since told the Sydney Morning Herald that he ‘even licked the floor’ in his excitement to return to the pub. He regrets the act.
Authorities fear the divorced couple could have spread the virus throughout the beaches, amid claims they failed to self-isolate after being tested (pictured, queue forms outside Covid-19 testing clinic at Avalon)
Premier Galdys Berejiklian noted a ‘few people’ who had attended the Avalon venues were not from the northern beaches (pictured, queues form outside a Covid-19 testing clinic at Avalon)
Premier Galdys Berejiklian noted a ‘few people’ who had attended the Avalon venues were not from the northern beaches.
She urged residents to self-isolate, warning that more restrictions could be on their way if the outbreak spread any further.
‘I stress to everybody in and around Avalon and the Northern Beaches that for the next three days you shouldn’t leave your home unless absolutely necessary,’ she said.
‘Please ensure that if you leave your home for necessary business that you wear a mask, especially if going grocery shopping, and catching public transport.
‘Stay away from nonessential activities such as entering what we regard as high risk venues whether a hotel, restaurant, cafe, people should only undertake on the Northern Beaches absolutely necessary activity.
‘If we get on top of this in the next two or three days, all of us will be able to have a much better Christmas but if not, it could mean a further restrictions down the track.’
Authorities have since issued alerts for scores of other locations across the ‘insular peninsula’ of the northern beaches.
They include a Dee Why fruit shop, supermarkets, bottle shops, a Thai massage parlour and restaurants – and a hardware store in Artarmon, in the city’s north, also.
Authorities have since issued alerts for scores of other locations across the ‘insular peninsula’ of the northern beaches (pictured, thousands of northern beaches residents have lined up outside several Covid-19 testing clinics)
Ms Berejiklian urged residents to self-isolate, warning that more restrictions could be on their way if the outbreak spread any further (pictured, Avalon residents line up outside a Covid-19 testing clinic)
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