I'm a Celebrity: Crew member's Covid case triggers lockdown

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A road closed sign at the border between New South Wales and QueenslandImage source, EPA
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The positive Covid case triggered a seven-day lockdown

The reality TV programme I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! is facing criticism after a crew member contracted Covid-19, sending thousands of Australians into lockdown.

The make-up artist allegedly visited a number of establishments in the state of New South Wales (NSW) without checking-in or using a QR code.

She has been charged with multiple breaches of public health orders.

The incident has raised questions over the filming of shows in the area.

The 31-year-old woman, who has not been identified, flew to Ballina from Sydney on Saturday under an exemption, according to ABC News. She then visited a number of locations in the north of the state over the weekend.

ITV Studios, which makes the programme, told the news outlet that the crew member was "fully vaccinated and was wearing PPE while at work". It added that all of her close contacts were now in isolation.

It said it was "disappointed and sympathetic" to the impact this has had on the region.

But police said that by attending several businesses and venues in Byron Bay and Kingscliff she had breached the conditions of her work-related travel exemption.

According to the rules, people who have travelled from Sydney, which is still in lockdown, must stay at home when they are not working.

The positive result forced some 135,000 people into a seven-day lockdown which came into effect on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Queensland has closed its border to the affected areas.

Australia has strict border restrictions, even between states, with many people cut-off from seeing loved ones.

The positive Covid-19 case prompted widespread criticism on social media.

"I can't see my parents but 'essential' workers can travel to a region to film," one person wrote on Twitter.

Catherine Cusack, a member of the NSW legislative council, said on the social media site that she was "devastated" by the lockdown and called on the state's health minister to resign.

And the Mayor of Byron Shire, Michael Lyon, said he was looking into rescinding permission for the reality TV show Love Island to be filmed in the area. The show is also produced by ITV Studios.

Media caption,

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According to local media, northern NSW has relatively low vaccine rates when compared with other regions. Bryon Shire's vaccine rate in people over 16 has just passed 60%, compared to other Sydney councils that have recorded rates of more than 95%.

The Australian version of I'm a Celebrity is being filmed in the country for the first time due to coronavirus travel restrictions. It is usually filmed in South Africa.

The UK version, meanwhile, is to be filmed in Wales for the second successive series.