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26 March 2020: COVID-19 updates #ipswichtogether

4.20pm: Thanks for reading

That’s a wrap for today’s #ipswichtogether COVID-19 daily blog.

We’ll be back again tomorrow from 8am, and throughout the day, with regular updates and information you need to know about COVID-19 and its impact on Ipswich.

We’re also keen to share the good news stories taking place in our community about how people are helping one another and how businesses are adapting in these testing times. If you know a story we should highlight, let us know at ipswichfirst@ipswich.qld.gov.au

#ipswichtogether

4.05pm. Council fast-tracks $7.5 million into local economy

Council has initiated a seven-day payment cycle, a significant reduction to the normal 30-day billing period for all contractors.

This means council will this week pay more than $11 million for goods and services to the region’s businesses – a large increase on the normal weekly payments of about $3.5 million.

“We will continue to need the goods and services of our business partners and we will prioritise your payments,” CEO David Farmer said.

“This is just one way we can help our business community retain some liquidity during what is fast becoming one of the most severe economic downturns in modern history.”

Read more: Ipswich council fast-tracks $7.5m into local economy

3.40pm. When times get tough, make pizza

Businesses across Ipswich continue to adapt to try and keep their doors open and support their staff and the community.

Top of Town store Heisenberg Haus have fired up their pizza oven with their first pizzas available from last night.

In addition to their takeaway menu, Dale and Karyn Fechner are hand making the traditional Neapolitan pizzas from scratch – putting to use skills they learned a couple of years ago in Naples.

“We thought this might be an idea as pizza makes a great takeaway and there are not that many pizza shops making pizza from scratch,” Heisenberg Haus’s Eden Bruce said.

All pizzas are $20 each, pick up only from 11am until 1pm and again at 5pm until 8pm.

Pictured: Above: Eden Bruce from Heisenberg Haus. Below: Dale and Karyn Fechner.

More great Ipswich takeaway options: https://www.ipswichfirst.com.au/great-ipswich-takeaway-food-options/

3.10pm. Ipswich residents rolling up their sleeves

Ipswich residents are rolling up their sleeves following Lifeblood’s recent appeal for people to donate blood or plasma as the COVID-19 outbreak threatens national supplies.

Lifeblood’s Queensland media and communications manager Belinda Smetioukh said people across Ipswich were answering their call for donations. 

“We’ve definitely seen an uplift in appointments following the call out,” Ms Smetioukh said. 

“We just need to sustain this moving forward, so the community’s continued support is greatly appreciated.” 

Lifeblood Chief Executive Shelly Park said an additional 10,000 donors are still needed across Australia over the next three weeks.

“Coronavirus does not stop the need for blood and plasma. It is a critical resource and demand for blood is constant and will continue to be,” Ms Park said.

“There are currently, and will continue to be over the coming weeks and months, patients involved in road accidents who need large volumes of blood for transfusions, cancer patients who will still need support to survive their treatment, and there will still be women who experience complications while giving birth, as well as many others who rely on this precious resource.

“We would like to say a very big thank you to everyone who has answered our call so far, however this will be an ongoing need and we urge everyone to make blood or plasma donation part of their immediate and ongoing plans.”

The Ipswich Lifeblood Donor Centre is located at the Riverlink Medical Centre on level 1, 2 Lowry Street in North Ipswich. You can book and appointment online or by calling 13 14 95. 

Find out more at: Ipswich blood donors needed amid coronavirus concerns

2.40pm. Council looks to go ‘cashless’

Ipswich City Council is moving to protect employees by adopting cashless payments.

Transfer stations at Riverview and Rosewood have both been equipped to accept eftpos payments, and patrons are all being asked to use card.

Council’s main service centre in the South St administration building is also asking people to use card for any transactions they might have to make.

And the city pound wants people to avoid using cash.

2.20pm. Charity groups urge community to band together

As COVID-19 causes mounting financial pressure and job losses, local charities and not-for-profit groups are looking at how they can continue to support Ipswich’s most vulnerable people.

Ipswich Assist is one local charity which provides food boxes to those in need. Manager Jason Budden said the group is committed to staying open to help people across the city through the pandemic.

“We’re providing food relief at the moment and have a few volunteers out doing home drop offs for people in isolation, including one mum who has a severely disabled boy and can’t leave the house right now,” he said.

Read the full story: https://www.ipswichfirst.com.au/charity-groups-urge-community-to-band-together/

1.50pm. Still water a sign of the times

It is 30 degrees in Springfield Central and normally the Orion Lagoon at Robelle Domain would be packed with hundreds, if not thousands, of adults and children enjoying the crystal clear water.

But these are not normal times.

There was not a single person in the lagoon today after Ipswich City Council, adhering to national guidelines, closed the facilities, along with other public swimming pools across the region.

It was a strange sight indeed.

Signs saying the pool was closed for cleaning, while a lifeguard or two wandered around the pool deck. A family walked up to the water’s edge and were advised not to go in.

Orion Lagoon opened in 2015 and has been one of Ipswich’s most popular attractions, with 400,000 people visiting annually. It has hardly ever been empty of swimmers, only briefly last year when it was closed overnight for some minor repairs.

But an empty, splash and noise-free zone will be a permanent thing for at least a few months no thanks to the COVID-19 crisis.

1.30pm. Council launches Active at Home online series

In light of federal guidance, Ipswich City Council advises that it has cancelled the Active Parks program and future plans to deliver a children’s school holiday program, Active Breaks.

All classes have been cancelled until further notice.

But, that does not mean you can’t stay active and healthy. Council has launched an alternate fitness option for the community, the Active at Home online series.

Participate in one of our Active at Home online sessions to keep you moving and support your mental wellbeing, all from the comfort of your own home.

A series of online videos that will guide you through yoga, Pilates, relaxation and improve your muscular strength with our abs, lower body and total body workout video series. These workouts don’t require equipment and can be streamed onto a mobile, tablet or laptop.

Read more here: https://www.ipswich.qld.gov.au/residents/healthy_lifestyle/active-programs/active-at-home

11.30am. Schools update

As of Monday, 30 March all Queensland schools will transition to student-free days for the remainder of the school term, to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Schools will remain open in a limited capacity until the end of term on April 3, to allow for the children of essential workers – that is anyone who is currently in the workforce – to remain at school and for teachers to prepare to move to remote learning from home.

This applies to both state and private schools.

Students who are not at school can learn at home next week via the resources available at: https://education.qld.gov.au/curriculum/learning-at-home

There is currently two weeks’ worth of learning at home resources, and the state government will continue to add more resources moving forward.

Day care centres and outside of school hours care centres will also remain open next week.

Education Minister Grace Grace said, “The health, safety and wellbeing of our students, teachers and teacher aids is our highest priority”.

Those who work in a school, aged 60 years and over who have underlying health conditions, have access to alternative working arrangements including non-contact work and working from home.

Ms Grace said anyone working in a school with health concerns could contact their supervisors and principals to organise alternative arrangements.

Ms Grace urged parents to keep sick children at home.

“Our principals have the authority to contact parents to ensure the child is maintained at home until they are better.”

Additional cleaning in schools is also in effect.

10.00am. Changes to public transport

Ipswich residents will now need to use a go card or pay for tickets using station fare machines for all public transport, after the state government announced yesterday that passengers will no longer be able to pay cash on south east Queensland trains, trams, ferries and buses to promote better social distancing. 

Transport and Main Road Minister Mark Bailey said the new processes would speed up boarding and reduce contact between drivers and passengers.

“By temporarily stopping cash payments, we’re aiming to avoid queues as people search for change to pay their fare and give customers more space to practise social distancing when they board,” Mr Bailey said. 

Mr Bailey maintained that catching public transport was safe and called on commuters to seek out and follow the latest health advice. 

Read more: Changes to SEQ public transport to promote better social distancing

9.05am. Early voting centres open late tonight

The doors have opened for another day of early voting across Ipswich.

The city’s five early voting centres will remain open until 9pm today.

  • WG Hayden Humanities Centre, 56 South Street, Ipswich.
  • Town Square Redbank Plains Shopping Centre, Shop 38a, 357-403 Redbank Plains Road, Redbank Plains.
  • Springfield Tennis Centre, Unit 1, 44 Sportstar Drive, Springfield Central.
  • 1/14 Coal Street, Bundamba.
  • Yamanto Shopping Village, Shop 29, 512-514 Warwick Road, Yamanto.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland is asking healthy voters to take advantage of early voting and not to apply for telephone voting.

Most voters are able to vote in person and precautions are being taken to ensure voting is quick and safe.

The short video below explains additional health measures in place at voting centres.

8.35am. We all have a part to play

Remember, social distancing saves lives.

Even if you don’t feel symptoms, you must exercise healthy social distancing to prevent COVID-19 spreading to others and the more vulnerable.

We all need to play our part to help stop the spread.

8am. West Moreton now has 15 COVID-19 cases, two Queenslanders have died

West Moreton Health has confirmed two more people have tested positive, bringing the total to 15 cases of COVID-19 for the West Moreton region.

Queensland has 46 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 raising the state total to 443.

Contact tracing is undertaken for each new case.

A Queensland Health spokesperson has confirmed a second Queenslander has passed away from COVID-19 on the Darling Downs.

The 68 year old Toowoomba man had a serious underlying medical condition before contracting the virus, Queensland Health offers its sincere condolences to his family.

The man’s family remain in isolation as close contacts.

It’s the second death from COVID-19 in Queensland after a 77 year old Sunshine Coast woman with an underlying medical condition passed away in Sydney.

Read more on the latest Queensland Health update here.

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