At her daily press briefing on July 22, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed that “there will be some level of restrictions beyond July 31". Currently, lockdown restrictions in Greater Sydney – the most severe settings ever implemented in NSW, introduced on July 17 – are officially due to end at the end of the month. Whether all the restrictions currently in place will be extended would be announced by “this time next week,” Berejiklian said. “Please know, as I’ve said, that we’ll be living with some level of restriction – obviously we want it to be less than we have today – until the majority of the population is vaccinated,” she added.
The outbreak of the highly infectious Delta strain, which started on June 16, continues to spread across Greater Sydney. On July 22, the state recorded its highest total of daily cases of the current surge, with 124 cases of community transmission detected. At least 48 of those cases were infectious in the community.
Berejiklian said that mass vaccination would be the only way to exit severe restrictions in NSW, adding that no other jurisdiction in the world had managed to reach a level of zero spread of the Delta variant. The national vaccine rollout has been widely criticised for being so sluggish – out of 38 developed nations in the world, Australia’s vaccination program is currently ranked as the slowest. This has, in part, been caused by a lack of supply of the Pfizer vaccine, which is the preferred vaccine for people aged under 60. Stocks of Pfizer are not expected to be replenished before September.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard criticised messaging from the federal government and ATAGI (the independent advisory committee on inoculations) that has discouraged people from getting the AstraZeneca vaccine, which Australia has in plentiful supply. An extremely rare blood clotting issue has been found in recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine aged under 60. However, state rules have been softened in recent days to allow anyone aged over 18 in NSW to access the AstraZeneca vaccine after consulting their GP. To find out how you can access your vaccine, read our simple guide.