All but critical retail to close, as stubborn Covid outbreak grows

All but critical retail outlets have been ordered to close across Greater Sydney. Pictured is the interior of Sydney's QVB, where the vast majority of shops will have to close under the public health orders. File photo.

By DAMIEN NOVAK

Harsh new lockdown restrictions have been announced across Greater Sydney, after NSW recorded 111 new cases of Covid-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night and another death.

From midnight tonight until Friday, 30 July, only “critical retail stores” will be allowed to open, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced at today’s 11am Covid-19 briefing. 

“Obviously things like supermarkets, pharmacists, they will retain face-to-face retail. But anything which is regarded as non-critical retail will not be able to have face-to-face,” she said. 

The following retail outlets will be allowed to open:

  • Supermarkets and grocery stores (including bakeries, fruit and vegetable stores, liquor stores, butchers and fishmongers)
  • Health, medical, maternity and infant supplies outlets
  • Pharmacies 
  • Petrol stations
  • Car hire
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Hardware, nurseries and building supplies
  • Agricultural and rural supplies
  • Pet supplies
  • Post offices and newsagents
  • Office supplies.

Retail businesses can still operate click and collect, and takeaway and home delivery services can still operate.

In addition to the new retail restrictions, new workplace restrictions have also been announced. As of midnight, building construction work across Greater Sydney is banned, as is all non-urgent maintenance and cleaning.

“We want a pause on all construction, all non-urgent maintenance, and of course, where there are urgent requirements for electricity or water or other repairs, of course that will occur,” said Ms Berejiklian.

Meanwhile, people in the Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield and Liverpool areas can no longer leave for work, unless they work in healthcare or emergency services.

“There will be harsher penalties for any employer who forces their employee to come into the office,” the premier said.

Ms Berejiklian acknowledged the “lockdown fatigue” experienced by residents of Greater Sydney but insisted the new restrictions were necessary.

“I know that many people will be very angry and upset with me, with the government, but please know that we’re making these decisions for no other reason than because they are the right decisions. We want to get out of this as quickly as possible,” she said.

“This Delta variant has been a challenge for every single nation on the planet.”

Of the 111 new cases, 29 were infectious while out in the community, according to NSW Health figures. 

There are currently 75 Covid–19 cases admitted to hospital, with 18 people in intensive care, six of whom require ventilation. 

A record 81,970 COVID tests reported to 8pm last night, compared with the previous day’s total of 77,587.

The health authority said the latest death was of a man in his 80s.

The total number of deaths in NSW from Covid-19 now stands at 57.