Townsville has been caught up in the spate of COVID-19 outbreaks around Australia courtesy of an infected hospital worker from Brisbane that travelled north to visit popular holiday spot Magnetic Island.
That marks a third cluster in Queensland, which has forced Queensland premier Anastasia Palaszczuk to take action.
She’s announced a snap three-day lockdown from 6pm tonight that will cover most of south east Queensland, including the Greater Brisbane area and the Gold Coast, and Townsville.
The lockdown could place significant pressure on the Townsville 500, scheduled for July 9-11, on a number of fronts.
Not only does it directly affect Townsville and ticket holders for the event, but also the four Queensland-based Supercars teams that will also be locked down as of this evening.
Triple Eight is based in Brisbane while Dick Johnson Racing, Matt Stone Racing and Team Sydney are all on the Gold Coast.
There could be a knock-on effect for the Melbourne-based teams too, should the Victorian government extend its border restrictions on Queensland.
As it stands the Greater Brisbane area is an orange zone for Victoria, which requires arrivals to be tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.
However should the situation worsen those controls could be strengthened, making it difficult for Melbourne teams to return home if they enter Queensland.
Of course, should the snap lockdown curb the Queensland outbreaks then the Townsville event will be able to go ahead as planned.
Teams are due to arrive in Townsville by the middle of next week.
“In light of the upgraded restrictions in Queensland, Supercars will continue to adhere to all government health advice as we proceed towards our next event in Townsville from July 9-11,” read a statement from Supercars.
“As always, we will continue to monitor the situation in Queensland and around Australia, to ensure the health and safety of our staff and fans remains our highest priority.”
Growing restrictions in south east Queensland over recent days had already forced Triple Eight to cancel the first test for the Russell Ingall/Broc Feeney Bathurst 1000 wildcard entry, which was set to take place at Queensland Raceway tomorrow.
This latest threat to the Townsville event is a wild departure from the situation barely a week ago, when the danger was coming from the south.
At that point there were concerns that a COVID-free Queensland wouldn’t open its borders to Melbourne in time for the six teams based in the Victorian capital to travel north.
Those fears were allayed last week when Palaszczuk opened the border as the Melbourne outbreak petered out.
Ironically, Victoria is one of the best-placed states in the country just a week later as Western Australia, the Northern Territory, New South Wales and now Queensland all face lockdowns.