Virus keeps soldiers on duty over Christmas

Privates Taylor Cameron, left, and Richard Jonson, of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, on Operation COVID-19 Assist with Queensland Police senior constables Wade Field and David Teunis. Photo: Corporal Nicole Dorrett

Virus keeps soldiers on duty over Christmas

Soldiers from the 7th Combat Brigade will remain on duty over the festive season on Operation COVID-19 Assist.

Members of the 7th Combat Signal Regiment and 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, are supporting the Queensland Government’s mandatory hotel quarantine for international arrivals.

The brigade has supported Joint Task Group 629.3 on Operation COVID-19 Assist for most of this year and that will continue into next year.

Major Zachary Baur said the support the brigade was providing over the Christmas period was important.

“With the opening of domestic borders, we’ve seen a reduction in quarantine requirements for domestic travellers, however there are still international travellers coming home to Australia for Christmas, so the task is not going to stop over the holiday period,” he said.

“The task force is made up of full-time members from the 7th Combat Brigade and other brigades from Gallipoli Barracks, along with a contingent of reservists.”

Lieutenant Graham Blay said working over Christmas was manageable with the shift rotations in place. 

“We’re working with Queensland Police and Queensland Health, so we’re able to split the workload quite evenly, allowing a significant rest period for the guys leading into the reduced-tempo period,” he said.

“The team is working a few days on, then a few days at a lower tempo where they can spend time at home with their families.

“The task allows them to get home each day.

“It’s the time of the year when everyone wants to get away and spend time with family, but this year we’ve spent much less time in the field due to COVID-19, so the guys are happy to be involved in tasks like Operation COVID-19 Assist.”

Lieutenant Blay said his team was prepared to support the Australian community wherever and however it was required. 

“We know there’s always potential tasks in the high-risk weather season and the guys are happy to be involved in working as part of a whole-of-government response,” he said.

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