With case numbers in New South Wales only continuing to rise, the state’s Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced Greater Sydney’s lockdown has been extended until the end of September.
In addition, local government areas (LGAs) of concern will be under even stricter rules from Monday, with a curfew to come into effect, exercise limited to just one hour per day, and more retail premises to close.
Further, across the entire state, mask wearing while outdoors will become mandatory from 30 August to avoid instances of fleeting transmission and aid police with compliance, and vaccines will become mandatory for those working in childcare or disability support for those that live or work in LGAs of concern.
It comes as NSW reported 642 cases of community transmission today and four new deaths related to COVID-19.
The Premier also announced that the Central Coast and Shellharbour will no longer be classified as ‘Greater Sydney’, but will instead become part of regional/rural NSW, giving residents in these areas hope that lockdown may end sooner than their counterparts in the NSW capital.
Lockdown in regional NSW is expected to last until at least 28 August.
The curfew will come into effect for the 12 LGAs of concern from Monday, meaning residents cannot leave the house between 9pm and 5am.
“In terms of the local government areas of concern, I can’t stress enough that we feel for you, we’ve imposed a lot of restrictions on you already,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“But we don’t want to see more of you end up in hospital, we don’t want to see more of you lose loved ones, and it’s heartbreaking when you see disease rip through families - families who are unvaccinated and suffering the most.
“From Monday from 9pm to 5am you cannot leave your home, unless of course it is for authorised workers or emergencies.”
The Premier says the curfew is necessary based on police feedback that a small number of people are not doing the right thing at night, as well as the fact that the “overwhelming number” of cases are being reported in South and Southwest Sydney.
“As we said, Delta doesn’t leave any room for error,” Berejiklian said.
“I apologise deeply to the vast majority of people in those communities for doing the right thing, but for our own health and safety moving forward we need to make these difficult decisions.”
A number of retail premises must close except for click & collect services from Monday too, including garden centres, office supplies, hardware and building supplies, landscaping material supplies, rural supplies and pet supplies.
New rules for authorised workers living or working in the LGAs of concern will also be introduced, including for childcare and disability support workers, who must now have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by 30 August.
The jump in case numbers follows reports of a gathering in Maroubra, an eastern suburb of Sydney, where 11 people have since tested positive to COVID-19.
"I understand why people are tired and fatigued, but we just can't have that occurring," NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro also highlighted sewage detections in the state's regions which are giving authorities "advanced notice" of possible COVID-19 infection.
"We've touched on sewage detections and they're happening right across regional New South Wales," Barilaro said.
"But our concerns are in the areas of Cobar, Port Macquarie, Parkes and Coonamble and Bellambi down in the Illawarra.
"Clearly it's a tool that we use. Clearly it has shown us an advanced notice in areas of concern."
The news comes as the Queensland government today announced 120 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel will be deployed to police the NSW border from 25 August.
"We've also now had confirmed that the ADF will be assisting our police with the border," QLD Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.
"We welcome certainly welcome that support from the Commonwealth."
Updated at 11.22am AEST on 20 August 2021.
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support