Much of NSW plunged into two-week lockdown

All of Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Wollongong and the NSW Central Coast has been placed under lockdown for two weeks.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced an extension of the current lockdown measures to include all of Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong from Saturday 6pm until midnight July 9.

That increases the length of the lockdown by a week after certain eastern suburbs were placed in lockdown at midnight on Friday.

“I said that this the scariest time since the pandemic started and that's proven to be the case," she said.

Greater Sydney will enter a two-week lockdown from Saturday at 6pm. Source: Getty
Greater Sydney will enter a two-week lockdown from Saturday at 6pm. Source: Getty

It means residents in these areas can only leave the house for four reasons: to buy essential items such as food, to provide or receive care, for exercise or for work.

NSW Health reported 29 new cases on Saturday – 17 which authorities were aware of on Friday but were reported after the 8pm deadline on Thursday night.

From Monday there will be no weddings permitted while funerals can still go ahead with a maximum of 100 people and mask wearing.

Restrictions for the rest of NSW will also stay in place for the next two weeks at least, meaning people can have a maximum of five visitors in their home.

"It is important that we do not seed our regional communities," Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant told media on Saturday afternoon, after authorities held their second press conference of the day.

"So anyone who has been in Sydney, Greater Sydney from June 21, we're asking you to stay at home for 14 days since you've left that area."

The change has no doubt thrown school holidays plans into chaos. If you have already travelled outside of Sydney to regional areas, health authorities say you can stay where you are but you must shelter in place and are subject to lockdown restrictions for the next fortnight.

A general view of Bondi Beach Drive-through Covid-19 Clinic in Sydney, Australia.
People line up for Covid testing in Bondi Beach on Saturday. Source: Getty Images

Financial help on the way, for some

In announcing the lockdown expansion, Ms Berejiklian said help was on the way.

"Nobody should feel stressed about their financial situation," she said.

"We will, as a state government in the next few days, be announcing support for businesses. The federal government's support for households kicks in at a certain time.

"Nobody should feel stressed or pressured to break any of the rules because of their financial situation."

Federal government assistance of up to $500 will kick in on July 1 for those who reside or work in Sydney's CBD, east or inner west and cannot attend work as a result of lockdown restrictions.

People also must not have more than $10,000 in liquid assets or be in receipt of other payments.

Why didn't the lockdown come sooner?

Ms Berejiklian was asked why Greater Sydney and other areas weren't placed into lockdown before Saturday.

The premier said the government had been following "the best health advice".

"New South Wales always has a policy of not burdening our citizens unless we absolutely have to, but unfortunately, at this point in time, we absolutely have to," she said.

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