Correction as of August 19: The headline of this article, which originally read “The whole of the Sydney CBD declared an outbreak hotspot” has been adjusted for clarity. The standfirst of the article, which read “Venues across the CBD and surrounding suburbs continue to be linked to community transmission” has also been adjusted for clarity.
Update, as of 3pm 18 Aug: The City of Sydney has released a statement offering additional context for NSW Health's health alert. "Parts of the City have been recently identified by the NSW Health as areas for increased surveillance and testing for Covid-19. Testing is particularly important in Sydney east, which covers Sydney, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Woolloomooloo, Potts Point, Rushcutters Bay, Elizabeth Bay and Centennial Park. NSW Health is requesting that if you live in or have visited these suburbs in the past two weeks you should monitor for symptoms. If even mild symptoms develop - like a runny nose, sore throat, cough, or loss of taste and smell - self-isolate and get tested. You can still visit our local area, just maintain physical distancing, good hygiene and wear a mask where you cannot maintain a physical distance. We are working closely with NSW Health to ensure the health and safety of our residents and visitors to our area."
NSW Health has issued a warning naming that the City of Sydney LGA – an area comprising the CBD and 32 surrounding suburbs – as an infection hotspot, as more hospitality venues in the area are linked to new cases. The local government area, spanning some 25 square kilometres of the city, is home for more than 240,000 of Sydney’s residents, with many thousands more commuting into the area every day for work.
NSW Health’s recommendations state that anyone living, working, or passing through a hotspot area should wear a mask at all times when in public and consider avoiding hospitality venues if possible.
Over the past two weeks, numerous hospitality venues have been tied to outbreaks, including the Apollo and Thai Rock restaurants, both in Potts Point, which are currently linked to more than 50 infections. On Monday, August 17, Cafe Peron in Double Bay and the Den Sushi restaurant in Rose Bay were both implicated in new cases, resulting in hundreds of patrons being ordered to self-isolate for 14 days. Sydney Girls High School in Surry Hills was also forced to close after a student tested positive.
Infectious disease experts recently called on state authorities to shut down hospitality venues for four weeks in order to curb the persistent spread of community transmission in Sydney. However, premier Gladys Berejiklian has instead opted to issue “strong recommendations” urging people to curb their socialising. Health authorities have also warned people aged 20-29 to be especially vigilant in coming forward for testing, as data shows that people in this age range are the most likely to be infected and are likely behind the continued spread of the disease in Sydney.
You can find a full list of the venues currently tied to new cases on the NSW Health website.