Sydney Covid-19 restrictions extended by a week

Illustration of the ultrastructure of the Covid-19 virus. Image: CDC Science Photo Library.

By DAMIEN NOVAK

Restrictions imposed on Greater Sydney in the wake of two locally acquired Covid-19 cases on Wednesday have been extended by one week despite no further local cases being recorded. 

Taking a cautious approach, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today said a “missing link” in contact tracing meant there was still a risk of a “super-spreading event”. 

As such, the three days of new restrictions which commenced at 5pm on Thursday, will now continue through to 12.01am Monday, 17 May to “safeguard the community and reduce the risk of further transmission” instead of ending at 12.01am tomorrow (Monday, 10 May).

Under the restrictions, the following rules must be observed:

  • No more than 20 guests (including children) to gather in a household.
  • Masks are compulsory on public transport and in public indoor venues such as theatres, hospitals and aged care facilities.
  • Front of house hospitality staff must wear face masks.
  • Drinking while standing in indoor venues is not allowed.
  • Dancing is not allowed at indoor hospitality venues or clubs, except at weddings where it is recommended no more than 20 people are on a dance floor at one time.
  • Visitors to aged care facilities must be limited to two people.

One relaxation of the restrictions was announced – masks are no longer mandatory for shoppers in retail outlets, although remain recommended. Retail staff members who work with the public are still required to wear a mask.

The restrictions apply to the entire Greater Sydney area including the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong.

A NSW Health statement this morning further clarified that authorities believe there is at least one undiagnosed community case of Covid-19 relating to the two cases confirmed on Wednesday – an Eastern Suburbs husband and wife in their 50s, who have the Indian B.1.617 variant of the virus. 

Genomic sequencing linked the couple’s infections to a returned overseas traveller from the US, who was quarantined at the Parkroyal hotel at Darling Harbour last month – but it is not yet known how the virus jumped from the traveller into the general community. . 

“Despite extensive investigations to date, NSW Health has not identified how the initial case, the man in his 50s, was exposed to Covid-19, which suggests he acquired the infection through brief contact with a currently unidentified person who was infectious in the community,” said a NSW Health statement today.

Previously, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant warned the Eastern Suburbs man had a high viral load, potentially making him highly infectious.

NSW Health continues to urge everyone in NSW with even the mildest symptoms, such as headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat or runny nose, to come forward immediately for testing, and then isolate until they receive a negative result.

For more information on Covid-19 testing in NSW, including the location of your nearest clinic, visit www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/how-to-protect-yourself-and-others/clinics.