From Monday, August 3, Sydneysiders should wear a face covering when in public, premier Gladys Berejiklian has “strongly recommended”, although she stopped short of issuing a binding mandate similar to the health orders currently in place in Victoria. Berejiklian said that face masks should be worn in four “high risk” situations:
- If you are in an enclosed or indoor space where social distancing isn’t possible, such as at the supermarket or in similar retail spaces and on public transport.
- If you have a customer-facing job that requires prolonged interaction with the public.
- If you are attending a place of worship.
- If you are in a “hot spot” area where community transmission has been detected.
The current "hot spot" suburbs in Greater Sydney are Mount Pritchard, Cabramatta, Fairfield East, Harris Park, Bankstown, Rookwood, Canterbury Hurlston Park, Surry Hills, Potts Point, St Leonards and Manly.
This latest advice is the most explicit call yet for the widespread use of face masks in NSW, although Berejiklian was keen to stress at a media briefing on August 2 that face mask use was "not compulsory", but rather a recommendation by the state’s health experts. It comes as cases of community transmission remain a stubborn presence in Sydney. While the state’s contact tracers have worked hard to tie all newly diagnosed cases to known sources, around ten per cent of the infections detected over the past two weeks have no clear connection to active clusters.
Berejiklian said NSW remained on “high alert” as cases in neighbouring Victoria continue to soar by triple digits every day. The number of cases in NSW is comparatively small – in the 24-hour reporting period between July 31 and August 1, just 12 new cases were found in the state – but fears remain high that an uncontrolled surge in infections could push Sydney or even NSW in its entirety, back into lockdown.