New Covid restrictions for Sydney as outbreak grows

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

By STAFF WRITERS

Commuters must once again use face masks in Sydney, with masks made mandatory on all public transport services from 4pm today (Friday, 18 June) until 12.01am Thursday, 24 June. 

The rule applies to Sydney and Blue Mountains (excluding the Central Coast, Wollongong and the Illawarra), said NSW Health.

The edict came after the state recorded two new locally acquired Covid-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, and one new case since 8pm.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the newest case was a man in his 50s who had been to Westfield Bondi Junction and came into contact with the airport driver who, on Wednesday, became the state’s first locally acquired case for 40 days

“It appears from CCTV cameras that it could have been a very fleeting contact between the infectious person and this gentleman in Bondi Junction,” the premier said.

Both of them visited the shopping centre’s Myer department store on Saturday, 12 June and the new case was infectious from Sunday.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said she was now more concerned than yesterday, considering the circumstances. 

“My concern has gone up a little bit today because I am aware that transmission has occurred in a shopping centre and I understand that people may not have religiously checked in, people may not have been conscious that they went shopping or which settings … that is why I’m asking for particular vigilance,” she said.

UNSW epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws told the ABC she also had concerns.

“We’re in trouble, now we know the strain is Delta,” said Ms McLaws.

“It’s up to 70 per cent more infectious than other strains, so it’s very problematic.”

In addition to the public transport mask mandate, authorities have imposed restrictions around aged care and disability facilities. 

The public is urged to avoid all non-essential visits to such facilities for the time being and, if visiting, must wear a face mask and limit their visits to two people per day. 

While face masks are not mandatory in any other settings, they are strongly recommended at all indoor public venues including supermarkets, shopping centres and theatres.

“It is not compulsory but we are recommending that people wear masks [at indoor venues] especially if you cannot guarantee social distancing,” said Ms Berejiklian.

“Assume that everybody you’re in contact with has the virus and assume you have the virus yourself and that’s the best advice we can give you as the next few days unfold,” she said.