Sweeping new Covid restrictions announced for Sydney

Members of the public wearing face masks in George Street, Sydney. File photo.

By DAMIEN NOVAK

Sydneysiders will have to wear face masks in public indoor settings, including at work, after a dramatic rise in the number of Covid-19 cases.

Ten cases were recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm last night – and since the cut-off, 13 new cases have been recorded, NSW Health has announced, prompting the state government to bring in a raft of new restrictions.

Sydneysiders will now have to wear masks in all public indoor settings from 4pm today across Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour.

Furthermore, a range of other restrictions also come in at 4pm today across the same areas:

  • Visitors to households will be limited to five guests – including children;
  • Drinking while standing at indoor venues will not be allowed;
  • Singing by audiences at indoor shows or by congregants at indoor places of worship will not be allowed;
  • Dancing will not be allowed at indoor hospitality venues or nightclubs – however, dancing is allowed at weddings for the bridal party only (no more than 20 people); 
  • Dance and gym classes limited to 20 per class (masks must be worn);
  • The one person per four square metre rule will be reintroduced for all indoor and outdoor settings, including weddings and funerals;
  • Outdoor seated events will be limited to 50 per cent seated capacity;
  • Previous public transport capacity limits, represented by green dots, will be reintroduced;
  • If you live or work in the City of Sydney, Waverley, Randwick, Canada Bay, Inner West, Bayside and Woollahra local government areas, you cannot travel outside metropolitan Sydney for non-essential travel.

Announcing the restrictions, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian reiterated that she had not wanted to bring in restrictions – but deemed them necessary.

“We don’t take these steps lightly and we never want to impose restrictions unless we absolutely have to,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We know the effect this will have on residents and venues but we must take this action now to ensure we keep on top of this outbreak,” she said.

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant urged the community to ramp up Covid-19 testing, to help control spread of the virus. 

“We need really high testing rates to make sure we’re stopping any chains of transmission and we’re continuing to urge people to come forward for testing, especially if you were in Westfield Bondi Junction (including the car park) at any time between 12 June and 18 June,” Dr Chant said.

NSW Health Minister Brads Hazzard urged the public to use QR codes and face masks.

“We will be increasing supervision and compliance checks to make sure everyone is doing the right thing,” Mr Hazzard said.

“This pandemic is far from over and we all have to do our bit to protect the community.”

The latest developments have had a knock-on effect interstate and overseas.

Western Australia has brought back a hard border, shutting the doors to all of NSW. 

New Zealand has suspended the travel bubble with NSW, requiring anyone from NSW to quarantine for 14 days upon entering the country, 

At time of writing, the ACT, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria had closed its borders to seven Sydney local government areas: the City of Sydney, as well as the Bayside, Canada Bay, Inner West, Randwick, Waverley and Woollahra councils. 

The Northern Territory currently requires visitors from two LGAs – Waverley and Woollahra – to undertake 14 days’ quarantine upon arrival. 

More to come

Peter Hackney is the editor-in-chief of the Sydney Sentinel.