Queenslanders enjoy the sunshine as coronavirus restrictions ease, only one new COVID-19 case overnight


Queenslanders have taken to waterways and public spaces, as the first day of relaxed restrictions allows residents to picnic or visit national parks for the first time in weeks.

The new rules still rely on practising social distancing and hygiene.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said the first day of relaxed rules was a test.

“Today is the first day of an experiment for Queenslanders, to see whether when more of us move around, we can continue to suppress the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

“What I’ve seen so far is that Queenslanders are doing a great job of maintaining their distance, of complying with all of those rules.”

Only one new case of COVID-19 was confirmed overnight, and a related public health warning was issued for flight QF614 from Melbourne to Brisbane on April 22.

“This was a returned traveller, returned from overseas and related to one of the known cruise ships, one of the cruise ships where we know that COVID-19 was circulating,” Mr Miles said.

“We have just 63 cases remaining active across the state, which is a fantastic result.”

Ten patients are in Queensland hospitals, four in intensive care, while 965 people have recovered.

Queensland has had 1,034 confirmed cases.

‘It’s over to Queenslanders’

Mr Miles said from what he had seen on Saturday morning, Queenslanders were complying with the rules.

“It’ll take us two weeks to see what the impact of changes we make this weekend are, and if we don’t see growth in our figures, that’s fantastic and we’ll be able to consider further relaxations,” he said.

“If we do see numbers increase, well then we’ll need to consider whether this easing can stay in place — so really, it’s over to Queenslanders.

People at Burleigh beach on Queensland's Gold Coast.
People maintain social-distancing rules at the beach at Burleigh.(ABC News: Jennifer Huxley)

Senior Sergeant Don Dunstan, from the Fortitude Valley Police Station, was at New Farm Park in inner-city Brisbane, with mounted police and officers on bikes on patrol.

“Generally, people are very compliant, they’re sticking to their social distancing, they’re staying in their immediate family groups or just their two people,” he said.

Three jet skiers on the Brisbane River at West End.
Jet skiers cruise along the Brisbane River at West End.(ABC News: Shelley Lloyd)

“It’s a beautiful day for it and they’re enjoying it.

“We’re not here in an obtrusive way — we’re here to help the community, we’re here to reassure the community and try and ensure the relaxations that have been put in place work.”

Walkers and picnic groups at Enoggera Reservoir at Brisbane State Forest.
Walkers and picnic groups spend time outdoors at Enoggera Reservoir in Brisbane.(ABC News: Liz Pickering)

‘Just happy to be out’

On the Gold Coast, Alexis Butson said she and her friend Prue Chuenchom were “just happy to be out” in the sunshine relaxing on the beach at Burleigh.

“Finally, it is good to be out of the house,” Ms Butson said.

“It’s the best thing to do when you live here — go to the beach.

“It is good weather today to get a tan, so just making the most of it before winter.”

(LtoR) Prue Chuenchom and Alexis Butson sunbaking at Burleigh.
(LtoR) Prue Chuenchom and Alexis Butson sunbaking at Burleigh.(ABC News: Jennifer Huxley)

Bella Harlow celebrated her 25th birthday with a picnic with her husband at Burleigh.

“It’s nice to be able to leave the house,” she said.

“It is perfect timing that I am allowed to leave the house on my birthday.

“I’m having a quick picnic with my husband, Luke, and heading home to chill out.”

Bella Harlow and her husband at Burleigh having a picnic.
Bella Harlow and her husband enjoy a picnic at Burleigh.(ABC News: Jennifer Huxley)

Bella Bower was another celebrating her birthday, marking turning 13 with a swim at Burleigh.

“It’s so good to be allowed out and finally enjoy the sun and sunbake and go for a surf,” she said.

“I was so happy because I haven’t been out in a while and it was something I could enjoy that I haven’t been able to.”

She said doing school at home had “been all right but I like school better”.

Bella Bower, 13, at the beach at Burleigh on Queensland's Gold Coast.
Bella Bower at the beach at Burleigh on her 13th birthday.(ABC News: Jennifer Huxley)

‘A healthy caution’

Gold Coast Chief Lifeguard Warren Young was another with a birthday on the beach, turning 70.

“It has been a magnificent day — it’s offshore wind and on the northern beaches there are waves,” Mr Young said.

Gold Coast Chief Lifeguard Warren Young smiles with the beach behind him.
Gold Coast chief lifeguard Warren Young celebrated his 70th birthday on the beach.(ABC News: Jennifer Huxley)

“People are out and about, the water is clear as crystal, but also there is a healthy caution.

“People are coming to the beaches, they’re good to be freed up a bit but they are still being cautious and social distancing, so it is a really good start.

People in the park near Burleigh beach on Queensland's Gold Coast.
People maintain social distancing in the park near Burleigh beach.(ABC News: Jennifer Huxley)

In Bundaberg, families enjoyed the sunshine with picnics and self-guided tours at Splitters Farm.

Farm owner Carly Clark said it had been very popular.

“The lifting of restrictions around picnics has meant we can allow people out on our beautiful grounds again,” Ms Clark said.

“We sold more picnics today then we have in the past — I think everyone’s suffering with cabin fever so getting out in the fresh air and sunshine is definitely needed.”

She said visitors were being given hand sanitiser on arrival and informed of social-distancing rules.

Bundaberg mum Amber-Lee Lederhose said they were enjoying being outside having a picnic.

Bundaberg mum Amber-Lee Lederhose with her family having a picnic,
Amber-Lee Lederhose with her family having a picnic at Splitter’s Farm .(ABC News: Johanna Marie)

Isolation fitness campaign

The Queensland Government also used the first day under the new restrictions to launch an isolation fitness campaign.

Sport Minister Mick de Brenni said Queenslanders had paid serious attention to looking after their health “in iso”.

“We’ve never seen so many people out walking, running, going as families, riding their bikes,” Mr de Brenni said.

“We’ve seen people taking their time to cook healthy meals at home.”

The campaign will pose physical challenges from Queensland athletes like boxer Jeff Horn, swimmer Susie O’Neill and netballer Gretel Beuta.

Walkers at Enoggera Reservoir at Brisbane State Forest.
Walkers at Brisbane State Forest enjoy relaxed coronavirus restrictions.(ABC News: Liz Pickering)
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The Virus: We could be in for an ‘early mark’ on physical distancing measures



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