Stay alert for virus, limit movement: NSW

·3-min read

The NSW premier has implored the state's residents to avoid complacency over the Christmas period and limit movement as much as possible, with a COVID-19 cluster on Sydney's northern beaches yet to be fully stamped out.

NSW recorded nine new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday from a record of more than 60,000 tests.

Seven of the cases are linked to the 104-strong cluster on the northern beaches, while the sources of the other two infections are under investigation.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant on Thursday warned residents could not afford to be complacent over Christmas.

Everyone should limit their movements and the number of people they see over the next few days, try to celebrate outdoors, and consider postponing events until the new year, according to Dr Chant.

Those experiencing even mild symptoms in the next few days should get tested and self-isolate, Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Thursday.

"Do not wait until the 27th because if people wait you could be unintentionally infecting people and ruining Christmas for those closest to you," she said.

A record 60,184 people came forward for testing on Wednesday, which Ms Berejiklian says prompted her to nearly fell off her chair - "literally".

Health authorities have ramped up testing and pathology staffing, shortening queues and the turnaround for results, Dr Chant said.

But Dr Chant said health authorities were now concerned about the possible emergence of another COVID-19 cluster in the Sydney CBD. Three cases have been connected to Paragon Hotel Sports Bar at Circular Quay.

People who were at the bar on December 16 at lunchtime for more than an hour are considered close contacts. Other patrons also need to be tested.

Another new case is a person who works at an office in the vicinity of Hunter and Bligh Streets in Sydney's CBD, near the Paragon Hotel.

People who have been in the CBD near the busy spots of Australia Square, the MLC Centre and Chifley Square, should get tested if they experience even the mildest of symptoms, Dr Chant said on Thursday.

Despite pleas from the Australian Medical Association to reconsider, Ms Berejiklian also insisted New Year's Eve fireworks on Sydney Harbour will go ahead, with people encouraged to watch from home.

Meanwhile, a woman hailing from the epicentre of the northern beaches cluster has been fined after collapsing on the floor of a pizza shop at Sanctuary Point on NSW's south coast, which prompted police involvement.

The 37-year-old woman from Bilgola Plateau - south of Avalon - was issued a $1000 fine for breaching a public health order to stay at home.

The pool deck area of Bondi Icebergs and the MLC Centre food court in Sydney's Martin Place have also been flagged by NSW Health as venues recently visited by people infected with COVID-19.

The Macquarie University Soccer Fields, a gym at Mona Vale, Alma Avalon Restaurant and De'assis Collaroy Cafe are also included in the latest alert.

NSW Health late on Thursday afternoon also issued close contact health alerts for Glorietta Restaurant and Bar in North Sydney and Massage Link in the Marketplace Leichhardt shopping centre.

A casual contact alert has also been issued for all of Marketplace Leichhardt, as well as venues in Rozelle, Balmain and Waverley.

NSW now has a four-tiered system of restrictions between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day and will return to previous settings on Sunday.

The approach has split the northern beaches peninsula in two, with the toughest conditions reserved for those living north of the Narrabeen Bridge.

Northern Territory on Thursday announced it would reopen to people travelling from greater Sydney with immediate effect, becoming the first state or territory to do so since the emergence of the northern beaches cluster.

However, northern beaches residents will remain locked out of the Top End.