Canberra: Australia on Saturday extended lockdown for 14 days in Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong to curb the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
Restrictions will also be imposed on regional New South Wales (NSW), with no more than five visitors allowed in homes, 50 per cent capacity at outdoor events, mandatory indoor mask-wearing and the one person per four square metres rule back for all indoor and outdoor settings, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.
The lockdown will be imposed from 6 pm Saturday until midnight Friday, July 9. The new lockdown measures will extend beyond the initial seven-day shutdown announced on Friday for Sydney’s eastern suburbs and the inner city, which was due to end next Friday.
As the virus gathers pace across Sydney, the crisis cabinet of the NSW government took the advice of NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant at an urgent meeting on Saturday.
NSW recorded 29 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8 pm Friday night, although health authorities expect that number to increase substantially in the coming days, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the health advice was that a three-day lockdown would not be enough, and a 14-day shutdown was necessary to slow the spread of the virus.
“The best health advice we have is that a two-week period or until midnight on Friday, July 9, is necessary, in order to make sure that we get to our target of zero community transmission,” Berejiklian said.
“There was no point doing it for three days or five days because it wouldn’t have done the job.”
She urged people not to panic buy and stressed there was no curfew so people did not need to rush out to stock up on provisions.
Anyone in regional NSW who has been in Greater Sydney since June 21 must also stay at home and isolate in order to stop the virus from spreading through the regions, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said all members of the crisis cabinet supported the lockdown decision.
He said seeing the number of cases being written up on a board in the health conference room on Saturday morning gave a real sense of “the immanency and urgency that we’re facing.”
Hazzard also foreshadowed a health order which will set out to employers a requirement that employees should work from home if possible, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.
“Employees, if possible, should be working from home. That’s a clear requirement to stop the movement around our communities,” he said.
“So again, I apologise to the business sector, but I think we’ve found that we can be extremely productive with our workers working at home and certainly to allow them to do that will minimise at least one group of people from moving around unnecessarily.”