After a spate of new COVID-19 cases popped up in New South Wales this week, the state government has made the decision to place new restrictions on the Greater Sydney area. NSW’s COVID-19 lockdown restrictions will be tightened after the state recorded 111 new infections — the highest daily number recorded in the latest outbreak. From 6pm on Saturday 26 June, the stay at home direction applies to people who live in, usually work in, or usually attend a university or other tertiary education facility in Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour local government areas until 11:59pm on Friday 30 July 2021.
According to the government, stay at home rules apply if you were in Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour on or after Monday 21 June 2021. You must follow the stay at home rules for 14 days from the date you left the area.
Residents in Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool local government areas will not be able to leave their region unless they are emergency services or healthcare workers, which includes those in the aged and disability sectors.
New COVID-19 restrictions for Greater Sydney
These new restrictions will be introduced for Greater Sydney for the immediate future, following updated health advice from the Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant about the growing risk to the community. It follows the extension of the Sydney lockdown restrictions earlier this week.
“I know that this has been a long journey in the fight against COVID but we cannot stumble over this hurdle,” Dr Chant said. “This is an incredibly challenging time and I want to stress I am incredibly concerned. I need all members of the community to follow the public health advice.”
In a joint statement, Premier Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard confirmed that the growing number of infectious cases in the community and unlinked cases of community transmission would lead to further restrictions.
The following additional restrictions are in place for residents across Greater Sydney including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour:
- Outdoor public gatherings limited to two people (excluding members of the same household);
- People must stay in their Local Government Area or within 10kms of home for exercise and outdoor recreation, with no carpooling between non-household members;
- Browsing in shops is prohibited, plus only one person per household, per day may leave the home for shopping;
- Funerals limited to ten people in total (this will take effect from Sunday, 11 July).
The four reasons to leave your home remain in place:
- Shopping for food or other essential goods and services (one person only);
- Medical care or compassionate needs (only one visitor can enter another residence to fulfil carers’ responsibilities or provide care or assistance, or for compassionate reasons);
- Exercise with no more than 2 (unless members of the same household);
- Essential work, or education, where you cannot work or study from home.
Restrictions in regional NSW will remain unchanged. From Monday, all non-urgent construction will also cease, Ms Berejiklian announced. From Wednesday, 21 July, employers must allow employees to work from home if the employee is able to do so, failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $10,000.
“We want to get out of this as quickly as possible. This Delta variant has been a challenge for every single nation on the planet,” Ms Berejiklian said.
What Businesses are Open?
From 11.59pm on Saturday 17 July in New South Wales, many retail premises will be required to close under a tightening of the COVID-19 lockdown affecting Greater Sydney and its surrounds. Retail businesses can still operate click and collect, takeaway and home delivery can still operate.
The following businesses are considered essential services and can remain open:
- Stores that predominantly sell health, medical, maternity and infant supplies,
- Pharmacies and chemists
- Petrol stations
- Car hire
- Banks and financial institutions
- Hardware, nurseries and building supplies,
- Agricultural and rural supplies
- Pet supplies
- Post offices and newsagents
- Office supplies
Anyone who leaves the home must have a mask with them at all times. They must be worn when you are working outdoors, in outdoor markets, outdoor shopping strips, and in an outdoor queues waiting for products such as coffee and food. Additionally, all carpooling to be stopped unless among members of the same household.
These new rules affect Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour, however, the conditions are evolving. The NSW government has also outlined further restrictions that will come into place in the coming days.
From 12.01am on Monday, 19 July:
- All construction to be paused; and
- Non-urgent maintenance, including cleaning services, and repair work on residential premises to be paused.
From 12.01am on Wednesday, 21 July:
- Employers must allow employees to work from home if the employee is able to do so, failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $10,000.
“We are constantly reviewing the health advice and will continue to update the community if any changes are required,” The Premier, Minister for Health and Medical Research said in a statement. “All other restrictions currently in place across Greater Sydney including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour will remain in place.”
“These decisions have not been made lightly and we understand this is a difficult time for the community and appreciate their ongoing patience. It is vital people continue to come forward for testing to help us find any COVID-19 cases in the community.” Importantly, the government has confirmed restrictions in regional NSW remain unchanged.
When Do the New Sydney Restrictions Come into Effect?
The latest COVID-19 restrictions in Sydney come into effect from 11:59pm Saturday 17, July 2021. According to the latest announcement from Premier Gladys Berejiklian and health minister Brad Hazzard, these restrictions will be put in place across Greater Sydney including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour until 11.59pm on Friday, 30 July.
When Do I Have to Wear a Face Mask?
Under the latest government requirements, wearing a face mask is compulsory in all indoor venues unless eating, including workplaces and public transport. You must wear a face mask at all times indoors.
Can I Have People at my Home?
In the five identified LGAs, the new NSW restrictions do not permit you to have people in your home from 5pm on Friday 9 July. In regional areas of NSW the same restrictions, which began on Wednesday 23 June 2021, apply. This means you may have no more than five people in a home at any one time, including children.
Are Gyms Still Open?
Under the latest Sydney COVID-19 restrictions, gyms and dance classes are no longer permitted. Residents across Greater Sydney including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour are only able to exercise only in groups of two (or with their households) and not exercise more than 10km from their homes. For regional areas of NSW, the same restrictions apply. These permit that gyms and dance classes are limited to 20 people. Masks must be worn throughout the duration of these events and must adhere to the one person per four square metre rule for all indoor and outdoor settings.
NSW’s Evolving Outbreak
The latest Sydney restrictions come after a series of new cases were identified. NSW recorded 111 new cases of community transmission from almost 82,000 tests, with at least 29 of those active in the community while infectious. The continuously swelling concern prompted Premier Gladys Berejiklian to impose new restrictions for businesses. She outlined only “critical retail” would now remain open as the state struggles to contain the delta variant.
Dr Chant urged Sydneysiders to assume they were coming into contact with someone with COVID-19 every time they left the house. “Every time you leave your home, you need to assume you are coming into contact with someone who could potentially have COVID,” she said. “Even when you’re out and about, make sure your masks are covering your nose and mouth and that you are using your hand sanitiser.”
Speaking in a press conference in late June, NSW health minister Brad Hazzard revealed he was as concerned about this latest outbreak as he was back in January last year. “I know from my experience and from others’ experience, that there is a degree of tiredness and a degree of apathy about the response to the virus. But in a sense, this is a new and more dangerous version of the virus and that apathy has to be swept away,” Hazzard said via The Guardian. “It is quite serious, I have to say as New South Wales health minister I am as worried now as I have been any time since January last year, so we need to make sure that we are all looking after each other.”
Non-Essential Travel Cut
Speaking at a press conference on Friday 9 July, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged people not to leave their home “unless they absolutely had to”. The premier suggested people reconsider their approach to essential travel and shopping.
“We do not have the option of living with this. We have to quash the community transmission,” she said. “Because if we don’t, we will see thousands and thousands of people in hospital, and lots of people thousands of people, potentially, dying.”
“Browsing is not allowed, Whether you are in a supermarket or anywhere else buying essential items, have to think about before you leave the home can I get online? Do I need to leave the house to a shopping? If I am leaving the house, you have to plan your visit. What do I need to get and how can I get those essential items without coming into contact with a lot of people.”
Renewed Focus on QR Codes
The new Sydney restrictions place renewed emphasis on QR codes and contact tracing for the Greater Sydney area. While a number of organisations will be on reduced staff, Hazzard urged all businesses to get on-board.
“We have to actually take it seriously. The QR codes should be used whenever you are entering any of the various places where there will be QR codes,” he said, via The Guardian. And you should make sure that if you don’t happen to have a QR code, if you have an older-style phone, and I know there are a lot of older citizens in New South Wales who don’t have data on their phones, what I would say is to the various hospitality providers, shopkeepers and others, make sure you have alternative methods of knowing who has been in your shop.”
When Do the New Sydney Restrictions Come into Effect?
The latest COVID-19 restrictions in Sydney come into effect from 11:59pm on Saturday 17 July 2021. According to the latest announcement from Premier Gladys Berejiklian and health minister Brad Hazzard, these restrictions will be put in place until 11:59pm 30 July 2021
Do I Have to Wear a Face Mask at Work?
Under the latest government requirements, wearing a face mask is compulsory in all indoor venues unless eating, including workplaces and public transport. You must wear a face mask at all times indoors and at all outdoor sporting events.