NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been forced to explain why her government used Twitter to announce the statewide lockdown, just hours before it began.
Residents in regional areas who were not already under stay-at-home orders were given less than three hours notice yesterday afternoon to prepare themselves for at least a week of restrictions.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro was first to confirm the new measures on social media, with an official statement from NSW Health following shortly after.
Ms Berejiklian was quizzed about the bizarre announcement today during her daily Covid-19 update after facing fierce backlash for failing to give more notice.
Premier plays down impact of sudden call
She argued “just a few local government areas in regional and rural communities” were impacted by the last-minute restrictions.
“By yesterday most of the state was locked down already,” she told reporters.
The Premier claimed she had received updated health advice that was not available before her earlier 11am press conference.
“Please note that in a pandemic, you have to act on the health advice you receive,” she said.
“We had received advice yesterday about many people moving from the ACT to the southern parts of New South Wales which was a concern given what is happening in the ACT so that advice was provided to me yesterday and we took that advice immediately.”
Mr Barilaro, who posted about the lockdown just before 2.30pm, told ABC News that the decision was made at lunch time on Saturday.
“We’ve always said if we thought this measure was needed we would act quickly and that’s why on that advice at lunchtime today we made the decision to go to a statewide lockdown,” he said.
Online backlash continues over bizarre excuse
Ms Berejiklian is continuing to come under fire on social media for downplaying the issue.
ABC reporter Matt Bevan posted a map to Twitter roughly showing how much of the state went into lockdown without warning.
"By yesterday most of the state was locked down anyway, it was just a few regional and rural communities," @gladysb. By the way, I've highlighted in blue the proportion of the state that was locked down yesterday with less than three hours warning. pic.twitter.com/CQhBGUKHJT
— Matt Bevan (@MatthewBevan) August 15, 2021
“Just did some quick maths. It's about 1.1 million people,” he said.
His post has since been flooded with hundreds of angry comments from people in regional and rural areas.
“I live in one of those blue areas in the map above. It takes me 1.5 hours to get to my nearest supermarket so 3 hours of warning is barely enough. I work with people who are more geographically isolated, and it has screwed them,” posted one person.
Another said: “Plenty of confusion and chaos, certainly where I am, not to mention anger. Her dismissive attitude will go down like a lead balloon.”
“Clearly geography along with empathy is something she struggles with,” commented another Twitter user.
"Delta doesn't leave any room for error. Even a handful of people doing the wrong thing creates absolute havoc," Ms Berejiklian warned.
The statewide lockdown came into force at 5pm yesterday and will last until 12.01am on August 22.
The order replaces all existing lockdown orders for regional NSW, with Sydney’s lockdown expected to last until at least August 28.
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