Coast restaurant owner says govt made him virus ‘scapegoat’
THE owner of a Noosa restaurant claimed his was just one of a number of Hastings St venues attended by guests at a party linked to one of Queensland's most significant coronavirus outbreaks.
Sails owner Lyndon Simmons claimed Queensland Health had made his business a "scapegoat" for hosting the party, attended by 90 friends who had since dispersed around the country.
Up to 30 guests and four staff at the birthday celebration have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
As of Saturday afternoon, the Sunshine Coast has 69 people diagnosed with coronavirus. Queensland Health said contact tracing is under way for 70 new confirmed cases which have raised the state's total at 625.
Mr Simmons said it was a "scandal" Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Health Minister Steven Miles and Queensland Health singled out his venue this week, and did not name others as he warned more people in the tourist town had fallen ill.
The event was a 50th birthday celebration for property industry figure Glen Wright, husband of GIVIT charity founder Juliette Wright.
Up to 30 guests at the party have since been diagnosed with COVID-19. The outbreak is believed to have originated with a guest at the March 14 party who had just returned from a ski resort in Aspen, Colorado.
"They were all up and down the street - I know a number of the places they went to," Mr Simmons said of party guests.
"In the interests of health, let alone leaving me like a ship out in the ocean on my own, it would have been comfortable if there were half a dozen other venues mentioned in Hastings Street.
"It appears Sails has been nominated to be the scapegoat but more worrying is the health aspect.
"If we're fair dinkum about this, we've got to know the circumstances: where they've been, who's at risk."
The Daily contacted Queensland Health for a response to Mr Simmons claims, for details on any other known venues the guests had attended, and when. A spokesman responded:
"Our priority will always be keeping Queenslanders safe and healthy.
"If we identify a business or organisation, it's to protect the health of Queenslanders.
"We did the exact same thing for the exact same reason when we previously identified a Gold Coast hairdressing salon and a Brisbane nightclub."
Queensland Health earlier this week said four Sails staff members had continued to work at the site while unknowingly infected.
Mr Simmons said operators of other Hastings St venues had confirmed the guests were also in their venues.
He claimed guests had stayed at a five-star hotel and had "pre-dinner drinks" before they arrived at Sails.
"We know people are getting sick now. They don't know why they're getting sick or where they're getting it from," he said.
Health guidelines say people are at higher risk of infection if they have had face-to-face contact with a confirmed case for 15 minutes or more, or shared an enclose¬d space with them for more than two hours.
Queensland Health said it conducted "contact tracing" of all confirmed cases to ascertain who they were infected by and who they had been in contact with.
Four Sails staff members contracted the virus and the restaurant closed this week when new lockdown measures came into effect.
"People who've got half a brain realise it's not a virus we locked in the cupboard and let out when we were there," Mr Simmons said.
"It's transmitted by human to human. As they move on they transmit it to the community."