Tough new rules for Sydney as cases spike – with worse to come

NSW’s local coronavirus cases have spiked to a fresh high, sparking a further tightening of virus rules in the lockdown areas.

The 44 new community virus infections confirmed on Friday included 29 who were out of home for at least part of their infectious period – a number that has alarmed state authorities.

“It tells us that in the next few days, those numbers are going to go up. It tells us that both the case numbers and unfortunately the number of people who may be exposed or have been exposed in the community is going to go up,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

“This is the opposite of where we need or want the numbers to trend.”

Friday’s figure is NSW’s highest daily tally yet for 2021 – and comes after a similar record of 38 on Thursday.

The Bondi cluster that sparked the state’s virus crisis has now hit 495 infections. There are 43 patients in hospital, including one person in their 20s and another in their 30s in intensive care.

Ms Berejiklian said the continued community spread of the virus had prompted a decision to introduce much more strict rules from Friday. But she flagged that even then, it might not be enough to halt the virus’ spread across Sydney and end the lockdown as planned on July 16.

“NSW is facing the biggest challenge we have faced since the pandemic started and I don’t say that lightly,” she said.

“Unless there is a dramatic change, unless there is a dramatic turnaround in the numbers, I can’t see how we would be in a position to ease restrictions by next Friday.”

Under the new rules, millions of residents in the lockdown areas in greater Sydney and surrounding areas will no longer be allowed any visitors to their homes, and only one person from each household is allowed to leave to buy essential items.

“Browsing is not allowed,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Group exercise will also be limited to two people (unless from the same household, and down from 10). People must stay within 10 kilometres of home for their exercise, and carpooling to get there is banned.

In what she called a “heartbreaking” decision, Ms Berejiklian said funerals would also be restricted to just 10 people from Sunday.

“The basic message is do not leave your home unless you absolutely have to,” she said.

  • See all of NSW’s virus exposure sites here

The concerns spread beyond the three local government areas of Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield and Liverpool, where most attention has been focused this week. Ms Berejiklian said people who lived outside those areas should not assume they were not at risk.

Health authorities have also flagged new areas of concern in Sydney’s
south-east, including Sutherland, Carrillo, Sylvania, Hurstville and Maroubra.

Friday’s new cases included eight from south-eastern Sydney, seven from the city’s west, and 21 from the south-west.

Ms Berejiklian also reiterated her view virus restrictions would have to last until case numbers were much lower. There was no way for NSW to “live with” the Delta strain of the virus, with just 9 per cent of its residents vaccinated, she said.

“We do not have the option of living with this. We have to quash the community transmission. Because if we don’t, we will see thousands and thousands of people in hospital, and lots of people – thousands of people, potentially – dying,” she said.

“Until we get those vaccination rates higher, we do not have the luxury of considering living with this virus. We don’t have that as an option.”

She said it was vital that Sydneysiders complied with rules.

“Do not leave your home, your household, unless you absolutely have to do – that is the basic rule that everybody should be following,” she said.

“Those exceptions are there to support people during this difficult time, to support people and having to undertake necessary business, having to undertake necessary care, or mental health and exercise.

“Everybody in the community has a role to play.”

Topics: NSW
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