Greater Sydney lockdown extended by a week

George Street in Sydney's CBD pictured during lockdown on Monday, 28 June, 2021. Photo: Lord Mayor Clover Moore/Facebook.

By PETER HACKNEY

Sydneysiders will endure Covid-19 lockdown for another week and new restrictions will apply to schools after the holiday break, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is expected to announce today. 

While the premier has yet to announce the news officially, reports from Guardian Australia, The Australian, the ABC and other media outlets contend that the stay-at-home orders will continue until midnight on Friday, 16 July instead of the previously announced end date of Friday, 9 July.

The decision means most school students will not return from their mid-year break on Monday and will, instead, be offered online learning from home. 

However, Nine Media is reporting that schools will be open for the children of essential workers and that “no child will be turned away”. 

News that lockdown will continue for residents of Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour comes after the NSW Crisis Cabinet Committee met yesterday to assess the current Covid-19 outbreak, which has grown to more than 330 cases since it began in Bondi in mid-June. 

Several worrying cases of community transmission were reported in Western Sydney last night, including from a busy Coles supermarket and a Country Growers grocery store in Westfield Parramatta, a Commonwealth Bank branch at Roselands and a building construction site at Toongabbie. 

Other exposure sites announced on Tuesday include the Big W store at Menai, a Harris Farm Markets location at Bondi Beach, a McDonald’s restaurant at Bonnyrigg and a Woolworths supermarket in Hillsdale.

Speaking earlier yesterday about the possibility of a lockdown extension, the premier told a live-streamed media conference the highly infectious nature of the current outbreak meant it had to be handled differently to previous outbreaks. 

“The difference now to what occurred in the last year or so – since we had the only one other lockdown [from March 2020] – is the Delta strain,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“This strain is different to what we have experienced. If you look at other jurisdictions around the world, we can see that you can’t afford to let this get away from you.”

The stay-at-home orders allow people to leave their home for just four reasons:

  • Shopping for food or other essential goods and services
  • Medical care or compassionate needs (including Covid-19 tests and vaccinations)
  • Outdoor exercise (in groups of ten or fewer)
  • Essential work or education, where you cannot work or study from home. 

Additionally, face masks continue to be required in all indoor settings outside the home, weddings are banned and funerals are capped at a maximum of 100 people.

Ms Berejiklian is expected to officially confirm the lockdown extension at the 11am Covid-19 daily media conference, at which she will also announce the latest Covid case numbers. 

Late last night, Guardian Australia reported: “It is understood the committee is working on a plan with further details on how the state will come out of lockdown.” 

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