Travel to islands off the Queensland coast will be restricted as authorities try to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Restrictions are in place for Palm Island, off the north Queensland coast, from midnight on Wednesday.
State Disaster Coordinator Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski says there will also be restrictions on who can access North Stradbroke and Fraser islands.
Both are popular destinations, with Stradbroke’s population of about 2000 being boosted by about 20,000 visitors over the Easter school holidays.
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, a mayor is calling for similar measures for more than 6,000 bay island residents off Brisbane.
Redland City Mayor Karen Williams says the Local Disaster Management Group has asked the state government to restrict non-essential travel to islands like Russell and Macleay, as well as North Stradbroke.
The bay island residents fear ferry travel to and from the mainland could contribute to the spread of the virus.
“We are asking everyone to help us slow the spread of this virus by staying away from our islands unless they live there or have a need for essential travel,” Cr Williams said on Wednesday.
She said island transport was often crowded, making social distancing difficult.
Greg Hartay-Szabo, who lives on Russell Island, says some residents are afraid infection could spread on ferries because social distancing requirements cannot always be met, especially during peak times.
“This virus doesn’t differentiate between static venues like halls, where there is the one person per four square metre rule, and public transport like ferries and buses,” Mr Hartay-Szabo told AAP.
Travel to the mainland is frequent as only some of the islands have shops, and medical facilities are limited.
Travel to Palm Island will be restricted to those providing essential services or undertaking essential medical travel from midnight on Wednesday, said Roy Prior from the area’s disaster management group.
“We recognise many members of our community may be vulnerable to coronavirus, therefore these measures are necessary to try and ensure the ongoing health, wellbeing and safety of all our residents in these challenging times,” Mr Prior said.
Authorities are preparing to close Queensland’s border to outsiders from midnight on Wednesday.