A coronavirus cluster on Sydney’s Northern Beaches has grown by 23.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Saturday there were 23 cases of coronavirus in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, which includes the 10 that were reported at 11am on the same day.
She said 21 of these cases had been linked to the Avalon cluster, which totals to 38.
Two cases remain under investigation, but the premier believes they are linked to the same cluster.
Ms Berejiklian also announced a number of restrictions for the Northern Beaches, which are set to come into place from 5pm (AEDT) on Saturday.
“Based on the likelihood that we are going to expect to see a repeat of those numbers across this 24 hours, given what we know from the testing, given what we know from the likely number of cases, we are going to put in health orders for the Northern Beaches from five o'clock today (Saturday) to essentially go back to the restrictions people experienced in March,” she said.
“In relation to only leaving your home if it is for essential purposes such as for work, for compassionate grounds, for exercise or to go shopping.
“So we're going to put that health order in place until midnight Wednesday and that is to give others a chance to have a better Christmas than what would otherwise occur.”
No evidence virus has left Northern Beaches
The premier said health authorities don’t believe Covid-19 has left the Northern Beaches and infected people in other areas of Sydney.
Ms Berejiklian said for this reason she hopes all state leaders take this into consideration when making decisions on borders.
“The geographic bulk of the state is unaffected, greater Sydney at this stage, we don't have any evidence that there is any seeding yet outside of the Northern Beaches,” she said.
“So we ask all state leaders to consider that in their decision-making and consider that even the type of Christmas period it is, and we just ask people to be measured in their response.”
People who have visited the Northern Beaches from December 11 onwards will have to go into mandatory quarantine for 14 days in Queensland.
All NSW travellers entering Western Australia will have to do the same when entering the state.
A permit system is in place for NSW residents travelling to Victoria with Victorians urged not to head to NSW.
Northern Beaches cluster set to grow
Ms Berejiklian said it doesn’t look like the cluster will decrease in size within the next 48 hours and she expects new cases to emerge.
“We are trying to get on top of it more quickly with this action,” she said.
“Our thinking is to get on top of it as quickly as we can to give people a chance of having a normal Christmas.”
She added the state “will have the same number, if not more cases” reported on Sunday.
More venues added to growing Covid list
Hundreds of gym goers have been asked to get tested and isolate immediately.
Authorities issued a public health alert on Saturday morning, calling several hundred people who attended an Avalon gym to take urgent action.
A known case attended Anytime Fitness on Avalon Parade on December 6, 7, 8, 11 and 12 while infectious.
Investigations are underway and authorities are in the process of tracking down close contacts but are asking anyone who attended the gym on those days to get tested immediately and isolate until further advice.
The gym adds to a lengthy list of venues visited by confirmed cases published by authorities on Friday afternoon.
They include numerous places around the Northern Beaches but also Cronulla RSL Club, Westfield Bondi Junction, a Turramurra hair salon, a Woolloomooloo restaurant and other Sydney venues and transport routes.
The warning periods range from December 11 to December 16.
Premier’s plea to Sydney
Ms Berejklian pleaded with people across Sydney to avoid “non-essential activities” in a bid to stop the potential for the virus spreading.
“If you are planning a night out tonight, we ask you to consider changing those plans on staying at home,” she said.
“We want people to stay at home tonight and the next few nights so that we can ensure the virus does not spread if there are any fragments of the virus outside of the Northern Beaches and we also want to make sure that we give all of Sydney the best chance we have two having a good Christmas.”
It was a point echoed by Health Minister Brad Hazzard who urged people in the Northern Beaches not to engage in unnecessary outings.
"So if you have got lunches with a lot of friends today, cancel it,” he said.
“If you are going out big functions this afternoon, cancel it."
Ms Berejiklian also pleaded with people outside of the Northern Beaches area.
“Of course the response in greater Sydney will not be anywhere near the tough position we have taken in relation to the Northern Beaches. So I want to make that clear, to say to greater Sydney, please, please, do not go out tonight or the next few days unless you really have to do,” she said.
“Please don’t leave your home unless you have to.”
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.