A COVID-19 crisis has engulfed Lakes Entrance.
The town’s busiest trade season has been thrown into more chaos 12 months on from last year’s bushfires after two COVID-positive people attended numerous venues and businesses over two days on December 29 and 30.
The positive cases were travelling through to New South Wales, where they were tested and received their results. They are linked to an original New South
Wales cluster and have links to the Black Rock Thai restaurant cluster in Melbourne.
The first sign COVID had made its way to Lakes Entrance was when viral fragments were detected in a sample of wastewater taken from the inlet to the Lakes Entrance wastewater treatment plant on December 29.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is urging people with any symptoms to get tested. A pop-up testing site has been set up at the Lakes Entrance Aquadome on Palmers Road. After opening on Saturday afternoon it had taken more than 800 tests up until Monday afternoon.
A line of cars stretched from the Aquadome car park to Coates Road on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. As of Tuesday morning, no positive results had been returned from the site.
The news of COVID being in and potentially spreading in Lakes Entrance has had wide-ranging effects.
On Sunday a huge number of vehicles, some towing caravans, were leaving town, while tourism and hospitality businesses are suffering.
Lakes Entrance Action and Development Association president, Bruce Hurley described the news in one simple three-word sentence: “What a disaster”.
“I have never seen the town looking so good with so many visitors,” Mr Hurley said of the number of people holidaying in Lakes Entrance over the Christmas/New Year period.
“One motel told me they lost $20,000 in bookings.
“Lakes is hurting for the second year in a row at peak holiday time.”
Local café, Albert & Co, had to shut its doors after the positive cases dined at the café. It has undergone a deep clean and was given the all clear to reopen by DHHS on Monday and did so yesterday morning for coffee and bacon and egg rolls before fully reopening today.
The café was not directly notified by the DHHS about the positive cases attending the café, instead finding out via the media.
“We can’t thank our community enough for their support, well wishes and pledges to visit us when this is all over,” the café said in a statement.
Chant’s Summer Carnival has also had to shut the gates until its staff returned negative tests, which happened on Tuesday. The carnival was to reopen today.
“Our staff are being tested and will stay isolated at home until we get the negative test result,” organisers said in a statement.
“We will remain closed until this happens.”
The Central Hotel avoided a similar fate with the positive cases not entering the venue, but being outside of it for an extended period.
Lakes Entrance is currently facing a COVID-19 crisis after two COVID-positive people, linked to a Thai restaurant in Black Rock, Melbourne, visited a number of local venues and establishments on December 29 and 30. A pop-up testing clinic was set up at Lakes Entrance Aquadome on Saturday afternoon and pleasingly for the town, as of Tuesday morning, there had been no positive results returned.