Covid NSW: 'Upset' Premier extends lockdown, imposes new rules

Sydney's Covid-19 lockdown introduced almost five weeks ago to curb the spread of the highly-infectious Delta variant has been extended until August 28.

It comes as the state announced 177 new locally acquired cases on Wednesday – the highest daily total of the current outbreak.

Of those, 46 were in the community for the entirety of their infectious period, 22 for part of their infectious period while another 62 remain under investigation.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian revealed Greater Sydney, Wollongong, the Central Coast, Shellharbour and the Blue Mountains will be in lockdown for a further four weeks.

Sydneysiders were informed on Wednesday the city's lockdown will be extended. Source: Getty
Sydneysiders were informed on Wednesday the city's lockdown will be extended. Source: Getty

"I am as upset and frustrated as all of you that we were not able to get the case numbers we would have liked at this point in time but that is the reality," she told reporters.

"We have to deal with the cards here before us and the situation before us and that is why we have taken the action we have."

Ms Berejiklian highlighted the dangers of gathering among family by using a recent funeral in Pendle Hill as an example where 45 out of 50 people in attendance became infected from a positive case.

"The reason why we have contained funerals to 10 people is because how contagious this virus is," she said.

She once again stressed the mingling of households among families must stop to curtail the virus's spread.

"You might think you are doing your grandmother or your aunt a favour by dropping in and giving them food or going into say hello, but that could be a death sentence."

Covid restrictions tightened

The premier also announced a further tightening of restrictions.

Essential shopping will now be limited to 10km or within residents' local government areas.

Additionally, people living in the three LGAs of Parramatta, Campbelltown and Georges River cannot work outside their LGA unless a critical worker. The areas join Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Blacktown and Cumberland LGAs under the same restriction.

Construction work outside of those eight LGAs will be able to commence in non-occupied dwellings.

Tradies outside the eight LGAs will also be able to visit a home if they won't have contact with anyone while working.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned setbacks from non-compliance could take weeks to fix. Source: ABC
Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned setbacks from non-compliance could take weeks to fix. Source: ABC

A singles bubble will be introduced where people who live alone can nominate one other person to visit.

Ms Berejiklian said police would up their patrols to ensure residents are abiding by the public health order.

"Can I also stress that people should expect a greater police presence, a greater focus on compliance," she said.

An 11th death, an unvaccinated woman in her 90s, of the outbreak was recorded on Tuesday.

Ms Berejiklian offered hope to areas which continue to record no infections, saying an easing could occur "in the next few weeks". However she warned there could be a further tightening as well.

"There are no rule books in a pandemic things can change very quickly one way or the other," she said.

Year 12 students will return to school for face-to-face learning from August 16. Year 12 students in the eight LGAs of concern are set to benefit from a targeted Pfizer vaccination program.

"We don't want students going to face-to-face learning getting the virus and taking it home to their families," Ms Berejiklian said.

Rapid antigen testing will also be rolled out to safeguard classrooms.

Compliance needed to end of November

Ms Berejiklian said she hoped to achieve what health authorities are attempting to in the next four weeks, but the lockdown could be extended if setbacks occur.

"We can't afford any setbacks. As Dr Chant said, [setbacks can have] a ripple effect which can take weeks to get out of."

Ms Berejiklian said compliance to public health orders such as mask wearing will be needed until at least November.

"Compliance will feature strongly in the next four months. Whether in workplaces, other places of presence, compliance is so critical for us to be able to reduce infectious people in the community," she said.

AstraZeneca rates 'through the roof'

The extra four weeks of lockdown will allow more people to get vaccinated, particularly in areas most affected by the current outbreak, Ms Berejiklian said.

In NSW, 30.4 per cent of the population has now received their first dose of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca.

Some 13.1 per cent of the population - 1.07 million residents - have received two doses.

As the ATAGI advice changed last Friday, meaning people aged 18 and over were welcomed to take the AstraZeneca jab, Ms Berejiklian said rates had gone "through the roof".

"We're looking at those numbers and we're very pleased the public is responding. We know that having more vaccines in arms doesn't just protect the individual but it slows the spread and we know that's so critical moving forward."

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