Two weeks added to Sydney virus lockdown

·3-min read

The lockdown of Greater Sydney and surrounds has been extended by at least two weeks, but the NSW premier says newly announced government support should cushion the financial blow.

NSW recorded 97 new local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday, with at least 31 of them circulating in the community during part of all of their infectious period.

The stay-at-home provisions were scheduled to end on Friday but will now remain in place until at least July 30.

It means more than five million people will endure at least five weeks of lockdown. Restriction settings across regional NSW remain unchanged.

The state's schools will also continue with online learning.

It comes after the state and federal governments on Tuesday revealed an extensive financial support package.

The state government expanded a business grants program and will cut or defer payroll taxes for most companies, while workers who have lost eight or more hours a week due to lockdowns will be able to apply for up to $600 per week in federal support.

The increase in workers' payments kicks in once a lockdown exceeds 21 days.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday that an extension to lockdown provisions was inevitable given the extent of COVID-19 spread in the community.

But the new financial support measures would help people avoid unnecessarily leaving home.

"We want to see this lockdown end in a timely way but no matter how long we need, we will have that support for businesses and individuals," Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

"The financial support measures in place are to prevent people from leaving home but we know that there is (still) essential work carried out."

The National Retail Association said the cost of the five week lockdown would reach $5 billion.

There are currently 20 COVID-19 patients in NSW in intensive care, with four ventilated.

Ms Berejiklian said the lockdown could end on July 30 as scheduled if all residents stay at home, but the modelling could not "predict what proportion of our population will stick to the rules".

Meanwhile, thousands of essential workers in the city's southwest are struggling to get mandatory COVID-19 tests, with some waiting up to six hours.

People in the Fairfield local government area were on Tuesday stuck in their cars, with queues stretching for kilometres to get tested at a showground.

It came after the state government announced new restrictions for essential workers who must now get tested every three days if they work outside the area.

Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone said the new rules created bedlam at testing sites in the area.

"These are people that want to get tested, these are doctors and nurses, people that help our community, they work far and wide and these are essential workers," Mr Carbone told the Nine Network.

"The mandated plan ... was very badly thought out."

People with COVID symptoms who wanted to get tested but could not afford to wait six hours in a queue had gone home, Mr Carbone said.

NSW Health has responded by expanding the number of 24/7 testing sites across the Fairfield LGA and extending hours at other sites.

Ms Berejiklian said that asymptomatic essential workers could attend COVID-19 testing clinics near their workplaces in order to ease pressure on Fairfield's testing facilities.

Anyone from Greater Sydney travelling to the regions for work must be tested weekly, but these workers have until Saturday before the order is policed.

Two people have died - a man in his 70s and a woman in her 90s - taking the NSW tally to 58 and the national death toll to 912 since the pandemic began last year.

NSW Health on Wednesday afternoon added another 28 exposure venues including Strawberry Hills Post Shop, Bonnyrigg Bunnings, and supermarkets in Fairfield Heights, Waterloo, Merrylands, Fairfield, Riverwood, and Wetherill Park.

A service station at Hay in the Riverina region has also shut for deep cleaning.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting