Greater Sydney lockdown extended, masks mandated outdoors, curfews in LGAs of concern

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wearing a face mask. File photo.

By PETER HACKNEY

The Greater Sydney lockdown to control the Delta outbreak of Covid-19 has been extended to the end of September, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced. 

Speaking at this morning’s daily Covid-19 media briefing, the premier said the lockdown, previously due to end on 28 August, would now continue through to 30 September. 

However, the Central Coast and Shellharbour areas would be excised from the definition of ‘Greater Sydney’ in the public health orders, meaning their lockdown will end on 28 August, provided the statewide lockdown is over by then. 

A comprehensive bundle of new measures to combat the outbreak was also announced by the premier, who revealed there had been another 642 cases of Covid-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, as well as another four deaths. 

Masks mandated outdoors except while exercising

Foremost among the new measures was an edict that face masks must be worn at all times outdoors, except while exercising.

The rule would apply to the entire state, the premier said, adding that even people exercising must carry a mask with them at all times. 

“Our concern is that when people are walking past a group of people or accidentally bumping into people … that can cause that fleeting contact can cause transmission,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Curfew for “areas of concern”

A 9pm to 5am curfew for people living in the 12 local government “areas of concern” was also announced.

The ruling will apply to all residents of Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith and Strathfield LGAs. 

“I apologise deeply, to the vast majority of people in those communities who are so doing the right thing, but for our own health and safety moving forward we need to make these difficult decisions,” the premier said.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the measures would help police do their job. 

“These additional powers, including the curfews, were from a police perspective, about stopping the spread of the virus,” he said.

Chant supports new measures

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told the media briefing she wanted to indicate that she “strongly supported” the new measures announced today.

“I understand that this is going to be so hard for everyone across NSW for the next four to six weeks but I do not want to be standing here every day, announcing these high rates of hospitalisations, and these deaths,” Dr Chant said.

“Every one of these deaths is someone mother, father, grandmother, grandfather.”

Dr Chant called on the people of NSW to do their part to curb the spread of the virus. 

“We can get on top of this … but it’s going to be hard and it requires us to redouble out efforts to work together,” she said.

“We have got two very effective vaccines but we also need these additional measures.”

Dr Chant said 500,000 bookings for vaccinations were currently available in the 12 LGAs of concern, urging residents to “please register” for them.  

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