26 June 2021, Paige Cockburn Sydney Australia.
The NSW Premier says it’s unlikely lockdown will be lifted before two weeks as she announces that Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong will enter a lockdown from 6:00pm today until 11.59pm on Friday July 9.
The announcement comes as NSW recorded 12 new locally acquired cases, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian warning the state to “brace ourselves” for more cases in the coming days.
Under the new restrictions, people in Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong can only leave home for the following four reasons:
- Shopping for food or other essential goods and services
- Medical care or compassionate needs (including to get a COVID-19 vaccine)
- Exercise outdoors in groups of 10 or fewer
- Essential work, or education, where you cannot work or study from home
Ms Berejikian said weddings would be permitted to take place today and tomorrow on compassionate grounds.
However, from Monday they would not be allowed until at least July 9.
Funerals will be permitted with a maximum 100 guests (subject to the four-square-metre rule) for the duration of the lockdown.
Ms Berejiklian said there was “no point” only locking down for a few days as it wouldn’t allow contact tracers to stay ahead of the virus.
The rest of NSW will be subject to the following restrictions:
- No more than five visitors (including children) allowed in homes
- Masks are compulsory in all indoor non-residential settings
- The four-square-metre rule is back for indoor and outdoor settings and drinking while standing at indoor venues is not allowed
- Dancing will not be allowed at indoor hospitality venues or nightclubs, but dancing is allowed at weddings for the wedding party (no more than 20 people)
- Dance and gym classes are limited to 20 people per class and masks must be worn
Ms Berejiklian said it was important to protect regional communities.
“Restrictions still apply because we want to make sure that if there have been any occasions where people unknowingly have taken the virus outside into the regions, that we don’t have any spread in those regions,” she said.
Anyone in NSW who has been in the Greater Sydney region (including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong) on or after June 21 must follow the stay-at-home orders for a period of 14 days after they left Greater Sydney.
Chief health officer Kerry Chant said this included anyone who had already left for school holidays.
“They can buy food and groceries and enjoy the outdoor environment, but they can’t go to hospitality and other venues,” she said.
Ms Berejiklian earlier flagged the lockdown — which currently only applies to four areas of Sydney — would likely be expanded in response to the growing COVID-19 outbreak.
A crisis cabinet meeting was called and three hours later the more extensive lockdown and restrictions were announced in an effort to reduce the number of people in the community while potentially infectious.
Dr Chant said a wider lockdown was the only way to gain control of the outbreak, given how transmissible the Delta variant had proven to be.
Premier Berejiklian said during this outbreak, all household contacts had been contracting the virus.
“So we do need to brace ourselves for potentially larger number of cases in the following days and that’s why it’s so important that we take action now,” she said.
“Please know we will get through this. We have had to do this before, we know the drill.”
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the updated public health orders would require employers to allow non-essential staff to work from home.
“That’s a clear requirement to stop the movement around our communities,” Mr Hazzard said.
“I just want to emphasize that the concerns we have at the moment are extraordinary, The Delta variant of this virus is certainly moving around our community far faster than anyone could have imagined and it’s up to us to fight back.”
Ms Berejiklian said nobody in NSW should be stressed about their financial situation and support for businesses would be announced in coming days, along with the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment.