Covid NSW: Minister backs Sydney curfew proposal as cases surge

In a sign of changing times ahead for NSW during lockdown the police minister said he would be open to the state introducing a curfew to curb the growing number of coronavirus cases.

David Elliott was asked by Sky News on Thursday morning if he had any hesitation to “go harder” with restrictions and if he was “happy” to introduce a curfew.

“If that’s what the commissioner (NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller) suggests to the premier then I’ll back him all the way,” Mr Elliott told Sky News.

“The problem is if people aren’t obeying the rules at sunset they’re not going to obey the rules at midnight.”

NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott speaks during a press conference at Surry Hills Police Station in Sydney.
NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said he would support curfews should they be suggested by the NSW Police Commissioner. Source: AAP

Many experts have urged the NSW Government to tighten restrictions.

Burnet Institute director Professor Brendan Crabbis urged the NSW government to implement uniform restrictions across all areas of Sydney including a curfew and five-kilometre travel limits.

"We're in now what is a national emergency," he told the Nine Network on Thursday.

We're in a steam train that is heading towards a cliff, not heading towards a station which is where we should be going.Professor Brendan Crabbis

Closed bars and restaurants along the Sydney Opera House forecourt at Circular Quay during a lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus, at night in Sydney.
Closed bars and restaurants along the Sydney Opera House forecourt at Circular Quay during lockdown. Source: Getty Images

Debate over effectiveness of a Sydney curfew

Police have responded by calling in the ADF for compliance assistance as part of Operation Stay At Home which began on Monday.

However, whether a curfew could influence case numbers is a different story.

Dr Donald Vinh from the McGill University Health Centre told the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this month a curfew did manage to reduce cases in Canada’s province of Quebec.

Dr Vinh said the curfews prevented people from “close or intimate” activities undertaken during the night.

However, a study undertaken by Giessen University in Germany found “night curfews are not an effective measure to limit virus transmission” when coupled with other non-pharmaceutical interventions or NPIs. This was with a 9pm to 5am curfew, which is in place in Melbourne.

A quiet George Street promenade is pictured on a usually busy evening in Sydney after authorities ordered new restrictions as a weeks-long lockdown failed to quash an outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
George Street in Sydney's CBD during lockdown. Source: Getty Images

NSW 'closing in on 2200 cases a day'

NSW recorded 633 new cases of community transmission on Wednesday.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters the Reff rate is 1.3, the Reff, or reproduction rate, is an indication of how the virus is spreading.

Ms Berejiklian said that number needs to go below 1. Currently, a reproduction rate of 1.3 means every 10 people sick with coronavirus are passing it onto 13 others. If it goes below one, daily case numbers will go down and if it goes higher the virus is more infectious, and understandably case numbers will go up.

Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng told a public accounts and estimates committee in June a Reff of 1.3 meant the state could expect a case rise of 30 per cent in seven days. He also stressed it needed to go below one and estimated it was 0.7 when Victoria came out of a three-week lockdown.

Over the past seven days NSW cases have risen by 28 per cent, from 12,245 on August 12 to 15,717 today.

Data journalist Juliette O’Brien told the Sydney Morning Herald with the Reff at 1.3, NSW could see 2200 cases a day within a month.

Case numbers have continued to rise. With 633 cases on Wednesday in NSW and 681 on Thursday.

By comparison, last Thursday saw the state record 345 cases and the Thursday before that saw 262.

with AAP

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