$15k in COVID fines for two 20yo men as Newcastle grapples with Omicron outbreak

A second man has been fined after breaching isolation rules on the night of Newcastle’s superspreader event last week.

Earlier on Thursday a 20-year-old linked to an infectious party on a Sydney boat cruise who later attended the Argyle House nightclub was fined $10,000.

Tonight a second man of the same age, who police said was a close contact of a COVID case, received a $5,000 fine for ignoring the direction to isolate.

Police said it was “understood the man subsequently attended a licensed premises on Wharf Road” on the evening of December 8.

The man has returned a positive COVID test, police say.

The first 20-year-old was instructed to isolate for seven days, but attended the Argyle House nightclub, on Wharf Road in Newcastle, on December 8, along with nearly 700 others.

At least 200 people who were at the nightclub have since tested positive for COVID-19 in what has been described as one of the biggest superspreader events in the world this year.

The man issued two infringement notices by police, each of which carried a $5,000 fine.

The Hunter New England (HNE) Health District recorded 633 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, up from Wednesday’s figure of 424.

There are 1,452 active cases in district, with nine in hospital and two in intensive care.

k in COVID fines for two 20yo men as Newcastle grapples with Omicron outbreak
The Lunar Electric festival planned for the weekend has been cancelled.(Supplied)

Festival shut down

The news of the fines coincides with the cancellation of a music festival that was to be held on Newcastle’s foreshore on Saturday.

Thousands were expected to attend the Lunar Electric music festival on Saturday, but amid Newcastle’s public health crisis NSW Health cancelled the event.

“NSW Health considered that the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in the Newcastle area, where the majority of a record number of cases are the Omicron variant of concern, presents too great a risk for the festival to take place this weekend,” NSW Health said in a statement.

“NSW Health continues to be concerned about the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in the Newcastle area, where several venues and events have now seen extensive transmission.

“The emergence of the Omicron variant is a timely reminder of the importance of booster shots in maintaining a high level of protection against the COVID-19 virus.”

Cambridge Hotel caught up in outbreak
The Cambridge in Newcastle West has been caught up in the city’s Omicron outbreak.(ABC Newcastle: Bindi Bryce)

Pub shuts, aged care worker infected

Anyone who went to the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle West from 6:30pm Friday December 10 to 2:30am Saturday December 11 is considered a close contact and must immediately get tested and isolate for seven days.

Members of their households are also advised to get a test.

NSW Health said it was likely that some of the patrons at the hotel during the specified time would be carrying the Omicron variant.

Meanwhile, in Scone, sections of an aged care facility are in lockdown after a fully vaccinated employee contracted the virus.

A cottage at HammondCare’s Strathearn House has been locked down and staff are under instruction to wear full PPE.

“HammondCare has informed the Public Health Unit and testing is underway of staff and residents as a precaution,” chief operating and risk officer Angela Raguz said.

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What the experts know about the Omicron variant so far(Norman Swan)

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