Greater Sydney goes into lockdown as state and territory governments scramble to keep virus spread at bay

By Melissa Coade

Monday June 28, 2021

nodes-hubs-covid
Modelling has been developed to assess COVID-19 risk for all Australian states and territories. (vegefox.com/Adobe)

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced that ‘growing community risk’ from the spread of COVID-19 means Greater Sydney will be subject to stay-at-home orders until midnight Friday 9 July.

Residents living in the Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour regions must not leave their homes, unless for:

  • Shopping for food or other essential goods and services;
  • Medical care or compassionate needs (people can leave home to have a COVID-19 vaccination unless you have been identified as a close contact);
  • Exercise outdoors in groups of 10 or fewer;
  • Essential work, or education, where you cannot work or study from home.

All other parts of NSW will also be subject to restrictions — with no more than five guests allowed to visit your home (including children), compulsory mask-wearing for all indoor non-residential settings, a ban on drinking while standing at indoor venues, no singing by audiences or choirs indoors, no dancing at indoor venues (with the exception of wedding parties of less than 20).

Gym classes are capped to 20 people and indoor events such as weddings and funerals are subject to a ‘one person per four square metre’ rule.

We have always indicated we will not hesitate to go further with restrictions to protect the people of NSW,” a statement issued by the premier on Saturday said.

“We understand this is a difficult time for everyone, however we need to take these steps now to get on top of this outbreak.”

The announcement comes one day after Berejiklian announced stay-at-home orders for four local government areas, and following calls from the Australian Medical Association to respond more aggressively to the virulent Delta variant of COVID-19 spreading through Sydney.

NSW Health revealed at the weekend that contract traces had identified a Virgin flight attendant who is believed to have contracted the virus while in Sydney, and subsequently flown on to Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast. 

Passengers who travelled on any of the flights listed on the NSW Health website have been classified as close contacts and asked to get tested and self-isolate at home for 14 days. Of the 112 locally acquired cases recorded in NSW since 16 June 2021, 110 cases are linked to this cluster and two remain under investigation.

In the last 24 hours, 30 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases have been recorded in NSW and concerns about the local cluster entering other states and territories has escalated.

Western Australia 

A Perth woman has tested positive for COVID-19, and is believed to be carrying the Delta valiant, after visiting NSW a fortnight ago. In Western Australia, the government has made mask-wearing mandatory on public transport,  in public indoor venues, work offices, and limited the number of gatherings. Football fans have also been banned from attending live games.

New restrictions were introduced in WA for the Perth and Peel regions — the local who tested positive for COVID and had travelled from NSW is believed to have visited several sites while infectious, including an Ikea, a primary school and a shopping centre. 

The number of people permitted to attend weddings, funerals and other events has also been capped. No more than 30 people can visit your home, and the state has cancelled its Chicken and Beer Festival.

From 12pm Sunday, WA classified the NT, Queensland, ACT and Victoria as ‘low risk jurisdictions and visitors from these areas must get a COVID-19 test within 48 hours of arrival and self-quarantine for 14 days. The state has also implemented hard closed border with NSW.

“Today’s changes to our border arrangements are a safe and sensible response to the alarming outbreaks we’re seeing over east,” WA premier Mark McGowan said.

“I understand some people may be frustrated but the safety of Western Australians is paramount and we must do everything we can to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading in our community and damaging our economy.”

The state’s border arrangements with SA and Tasmania remain the same and are being closely monitored.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory government has announced a 48-hour lockdown for Greater Darwin, with NT chief minister Michael Gunner describing the threat facing the territory as its biggest one to date. 

On Friday, five new cases in the NT were linked to a fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) gold mine worker, who is believed to have contracted the virus while undertaking mandatory quarantine at a Queensland hotel. The man is thought to have worked in the mine (500 kilometres away from Alice Springs) while infectious, exposing hundreds of co-workers who have gone on to travel to other parts of the country including Brisbane, Perth, Darwin and Alice Springs.

“We are assuming it is the Delta variant, the worst-case scenario,” Mr Gunner said of the Granite gold mine cluster.

Queensland

Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said she was concerned about the unknown elements of the virus spread from the gold mine. A third case of COVID-19 linked to the site was confirmed on Sunday.

“It’s that 169 other miners that we need to get results on,” Young said.

While no parts of Queensland are subject to lockdown restrictions, the state government said that they were closely monitoring the situation. New exposure sites have been listed on the state’s health website, with toilets, gyms, shopping centres, and fast food restaurants all included in the latest updates

“Getting vaccinated protects you from dying from this virus,” the Queensland chief health officer reminded citizens as she urged more people to step forward for vaccination. 

“If everyone can just maintain that social distance and be prepared to get tested with the slightest sneeze or sniffle – those things will mean we will not need to go into a lockdown,” she added.

The Queensland government also reminded citizens of the importance of wearing masks and has implemented new social distancing rules for weddings and social gatherings to ‘one person per two square meters’.

ACT

Indoor mask wearing is now compulsory for Canberrans although there have been no confirmed cases of COVID in the territory to date. According to the ACT chief health minister Andrew Barr, this measure will help minimise the possibility of a rapid outbreak in the nation’s capital.

“People are required to wear masks in indoor, risky settings … areas where you’ll be in contact with people that you don’t usually work with or live with,” Barr said.

“If you’re in doubt, wear a mask.

“In an indoor setting, if you’re going to be close to people that you don’t know, the best thing you can do to help reduce the risk of the virus spreading, if it did reach the ACT, is to be wearing a mask.”

The ACT government closed its borders on Saturday to any person who had been in the Greater Sydney region in the last week.

Victoria

Melbourne Airport was listed as a new COVID-19 exposure site in Victoria on Sunday, and the state is on alert for new inflections that may be linked to the June 25 Virgin flight from Brisbane.

Any interstate visitors to the state must apply for a travel permit, even if they are entering from a zone classified as ‘green’. 

People coming from ‘orange’ zones (Greater Brisbane, Perth metropolitan area and WA’s Peel region) must get tested and isolate upon entering the state until the return of a negative COVID-19 test result. 

Victoria has listed as ‘red’ zones: Greater Darwin, Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour. Any person travelling from these areas are banned from entering Victoria without an exemption. Returning Victorians coming home from these areas must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

South Australia

South Australia is expected to update its COVID-19 rules on Monday and the government has closed the state’s borders to Queensland, WA, the ACT and NT.

Tasmanians will be permitted to travel freely across the border.

NSW residents are not allowed into SA with the exception of a 100km cross-border buffer zone. 

The SA premier Steven Marshall said that Victorians would need to be tested on arrival to the state, alongside visitors from Greater Melbourne. 

“I think South Australia now needs to take decisive action so we can continue to keep our state safe and the economy strong,” Marshall said.

Tasmania

Australia’s apple aisle will be shutting its doors to Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong and any travellers who hail from the high-risk areas from June 21 are being asked to get tested and self-isolate.

 

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