Traffic on the Bruce Highway north of the city towards the Sunshine Coast has hit a standstill, with pictures showing cars backed up as far as the eye can see in both directions.
Roads south of the city, on the M1 heading towards the Gold Coast, traffic is almost as heavy with drivers warned to expect lengthy delays from the southern suburb of Springwood.
Traffic is at a standstill on major roads out of Brisbane such as the Bruce Highway (pictured) as crowds rush to get out of the city ahead of a 6pm lockdown
Shopping centres in Brisbane (pictured) were flooded by crowds panic buying despite repeated assurance from authorities there was no need
The Bruce Highway out of Brisbane was bumper to bumper on Friday evening (pictured)
Meanwhile, shoppers have flocked to Brisbane supermarkets to stock up on items despite continued reassurances from the government and supermarkets there was no need to panic buy.
Pictures show queues stretching the length of some shopping centres as customers cleared shelves of essential items.
Brisbane airport was thrown into chaos with travellers flooding Twitter with complaints about the lack of information on Friday.
‘Telling everyone to rush to the desk & queue together to find out border requirements is not very well thought out … just tell us over the PA where we can social distance,’ one person said
‘My flight was delayed from 9:10 to 10:55 then had to abandon because of Covid restrictions as we were flying out of Brisbane airport and we were told we’d have to isolate even tho we hadn’t been in the city,’ another said.
Crowds at Brisbane airport also complained there was confusion over how the lockdown affected flights. Pictured: Passenger at Brisbane airport being checked by police on December 20
There are 2.5 million people living in greater Brisbane with lockdown applying to the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton, and Redlands
‘No information anywhere for people in Queensland about to fly home. Is Brisbane airport considered part of Greater Brisbane? Will people flying out of the airport be required to quarantine?’ another person said.
‘Been trying to find out from the airline but Qantas has a hold time of three hours’ added a fourth.
Greater Brisbane will be locked down from 6pm on Friday in a bid to stave off a possible outbreak of the highly contagious UK variant of COVID-19 after a positive community test on Thursday.
Residents in the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton Bay and Redlands will be required to stay at home until 6pm on Monday.
The lockdown was sparked after a positive case, a woman in her 20s, was infectious from January 2 before testing positive to the UK strain after showing symptoms on Wednesday.
Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus is urged to get tested immediately.
Contact tracers are tracking the movements of the cleaner, who worked at the hotel Grand Chancellor on January 2.
Traffic heading north from Brisbane on Friday evening (pictured)
After encouraging shoppers to ‘only buy what they need’ supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles have reintroduced storewide limits to cope with the overwhelming surge in demand.
Shoppers are restricted to purchase limits of two items from a range of toilet paper, anti-bacterial products, and canned, frozen goods from Friday.
‘We understand this is an anxious time for Brisbane residents. However, we want to reassure our customers we will remain open as an essential service to support their food and grocery needs during the temporary lockdown,’ Woolworths Supermarkets Director of Stores Rob Moffat said.
‘We have stock to draw on from our suppliers and distribution centres, and it will continue to flow into stores in large volumes.
Shoppers also have swarmed pharmacies and other outlets where the masks have been sold in bulk in recent months.
Queensland Health has called for calm, reminding the Brisbane community that supermarkets and essential businesses will remain open.
A map shows the Brisbane locations which have been exposed to the UK’s mutant variant of the virus since January 2, including a busy train line, a Coles and a Woolworths
‘There are no concerns that supermarket supplies are at risk during this three-day period,’ a spokesman said.
Greater Brisbane will enter the hard lockdown after a cleaner at a quarantine hotel was diagnosed with the UK variant of COVID-19.
People will only be allowed to leave their home for essential work, exercise, essential shopping, to access healthcare, or to look after the vulnerable.
Masks are mandatory for anyone outside their home, aside from children under 12.
Shoppers have been reminded to adhere to social distancing.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state had decided ‘to go hard and go early’ to contain potential spread of the virus.
‘If we do not do this now it could end up being a 30-day lockdown,’ she said.
WHAT BRISBANE RESIDENTS CAN AND CAN’T DO DURING THE THREE-DAY LOCKDOWN
Residents can only go outside for one of four essential reasons – for work if they can’t do so from home, to do essential shopping or to provide healthcare for a vulnerable person in their local neighbourhood.
Only two guests are allowed inside the home.
Masks must be worn when out in public although children under the age of 12 are exempt.
Funerals are limited to only 20 people and weddings to 10 people.
Queenslanders in other parts of the state should stay at home for the next three days if they have been in Greater Brisbane since January 2
Brisbane residents will have to wear a mask when out in public as part of a strict three-day lockdown imposed by the Queensland government. People arrive to get COVID-19 tested at the Parklands Christian College in Logan in Brisbane.