NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a series of new lockdown measures to tackle the ongoing Delta outbreak in Sydney. The latest restrictions, which the premier described as a “no-regrets policy”, will be the most severe ever implemented in NSW. Overnight, the state recorded 111 new cases of community transmission from more than 82,000 tests, and one death of a man in his 80s. Twenty-nine of those new cases were infectious in the community.
The new rules come into effect from midnight on July 17 until at least July 30.
The premier said that 80 per cent of cases were still linked to the three LGAs of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool. From midnight on July 17, anyone residing in those LGAs will not be permitted to leave their respective areas until July 30, unless they are a health worker or emergency services worker. Those who fall into that exempt category will still be required to undergo surveillance testing every three days to demonstrate they are virus free.
Only “critical retail” businesses will be allowed to continue operating until July 30. This is a dramatic about-face for the NSW government, which had been adamant about not defining which businesses were essential, although pressure had been mounting in recent days from health experts, including the Australian Medical Association (AMA), about reducing the number of retailers allowed to trade. Critical retail includes:
- Supermarkets and grocery stores (including butchers, bakeries, fruit and vegetable stores, liquor stores and fishmongers);
- Stores that predominantly sell health, medical, maternity and infant supplies;
- Pharmacies and chemists;
- Petrol stations;
- Car hire;
- Banks and financial institutions;
- Hardware, nurseries and building supplies;
- Agricultural and rural supplies;
- Pet supplies;
- Post offices and newsagents; and
- Office supplies.
Businesses that offer click and collect like K-Mart and Big W will be allowed to continue offering that service, but shoppers will not be allowed to enter the store to browse.
Carpooling for any reason in Greater Sydney is banned until July 30, although taxis and Ubers will be allowed to continue operating.
From Monday, July 19, all construction, maintenance and repair works will also be prohibited until July 30. This not only includes large building sites, but also tradespeople in private residences and even private home cleaners.
All non-essential workers who are able to do so are now required to work from home, without exception. To ensure greater compliance, there will be much harsher punishments for employers who insist on staff coming into offices if they are able to work from home, including on-the-spot fines of $10,000.
Sydneysiders will need to carry a mask with them whenever outside of the home, even if they are not intending to go into a high-risk environment like a supermarket. People who are exercising outdoors in groups of two will also be required to wear a mask.
The premier said that, while the cases were largely localised to the Southwestern Sydney LGAs of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool, “the whole of Greater Sydney is at risk”, as cases possibly seeding the virus elsewhere have been detected across the entire region.