Second virus scare for Qld Sunshine Coast

Queensland schools will be pupil-free from Monday, with students of essential workers allowed.
Queensland schools will be pupil-free from Monday, with students of essential workers allowed.

The border has shut, schools are closed and dozens more people have been exposed to coronavirus after a man who tested positive visited three bars and restaurants on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Two Queenslanders have now died from coronavirus following the death of a 68-year-old man on the state's Darling Downs while the national toll stands at 12.

The virus continues to spread with another 50 new cases of coronavirus confirmed on Thursday taking the state's total to 493, but no one is currently in intensive care.

The state borders closed at midnight, throwing traffic into chaos as thousands of people were funnelled through police checkpoints.

Not since 1919 has the border between Queensland and NSW effectively been closed.

"It was a nightmare, absolute chaos at the start" Gold Coast traffic branch boss Bradyn Murphy told AAP.

Queensland schools will be pupil-free from Monday but vulnerable children and the kids of essential workers will still be able to attend.

Community kindergartens would also go pupil-free from Monday. But long daycare centres would remain open to ensure vital workers can continue working.

In announcing the student-free move, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the change was about striking the right balance, including the needs of essential workers and community concerns about the schools-open policy.

Vital staff, from healthcare workers to supermarket shelf-fillers, can continue to send their kids to class from Monday.

Vulnerable children can also still attend and arrangements will be made to protect high-risk education workers.

Teachers will use the student-free days to prepare for mass online and remote learning.

The premier also warned Queensland communities could face tighter lockdowns if people continue to flout social distancing guidelines.

"When I was coming into work this morning I saw five people sitting on a park bench on a picnic table in very close proximity to each other," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"That can't happen. Social distancing means social distancing.

"It doesn't mean sitting on a park bench next to each other chatting, we can't do that any more folks.

"We've got to do the right thing by everyone."

Health authorities are urging anyone who visited the Land & Sea Brewery: The Noosa Beer Company at Noosaville, Sum Yung Guys Restaurant at Sunshine Beach and the Sunshine Beach Surf Life Saving Club from March 13 to March 15 to monitor their health.

The man did not know he had contracted the virus when he visited the venues, potentially exposing dozens of other patrons.

It is the second scare for the Sunshine Coast after a birthday party held at Sails Restaurant last week led to a cluster of infections.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young also pleaded for Queenslanders to stay home.

"My first very, very strong piece of advice for every Queenslander is if you are sick, stay home," Dr Young said.

Despite the state's rising tally Saturday's local government elections will proceed as planned.

Earlier on Thursday, the Australian Medical Association of Queensland repeated its concerns about the elections potentially spreading coronavirus.

It has urged voters to wear face masks to polling booths, if they have them.

Australian Associated Press