Premier Gladys Berejiklian has ushered in a raft of new restrictions after NSW recorded its highest ever daily number of infections during the Covid pandemic.
There were 239 new cases of locally acquired Covid cases recorded on Thursday, and two more deaths, as authorities battle to contain the highly infectious Delta outbreak.
Of the new cases, at least 88 of those people were circulating in the community for all or part of their infectious period.
Just a day after extending the Sydney’s stay-at-home lockdown for another four weeks, Ms Berejiklian has announced tighter restrictions will come into effect from Friday.
Gladys Berejiklian has tightened restrictions across Sydney as the state grapples with the highly daily number of Covid cases it has witnessed during the entire pandemic
The new rules include tougher mask mandates, increased penalties, the closure of more businesses, and travel further restricted for residents in Covid-hit suburbs.
What are the new mask restrictions?
Two million Sydney residents living in one of eight hotspot LGAs in the west and south-western suburbs have to wear a mask whenever they leave home.
Those areas are Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Blacktown, Cumberland, Parramatta, Campbelltown and Georges River.
‘If you step foot outside your household, you need to wear a mask at all times. It doesn’t matter where it is,’ she said.
‘We’re seeing too much evidence of people who are not wearing masks when they need to.’
WHAT ARE THE EIGHT LGA’S OF CONCERN?
Penalties for not wearing a face mask across the state meanwhile will increase from $200 to $500.
How far can I travel from my home?
From midnight on Saturday morning, residents in those eight LGAs also cannot travel more than 5km from their home for essential shopping or for exercise.
The rule also applies to single’s bubbles, meaning anyone living alone in those LGA’s can only nominate a person based within a 5km from their home as their indoor companion.
What are the changes to business operations?
From Friday, police will be the power to close a public premises, work site, or business if they are found to be breaching public health orders.
‘We’re noticing too much of a lack of compliance from businesses and premises,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
‘If that is the case, police will be given the power to close them down.’
Ms Berejiklian said there will also be an increased police presence to ensure rules are being followed.
Greater Sydney and surrounding regions are in lockdown until at least August 28 as health authorities battle an outbreak of the virulent Delta strain.
The state recorded two more deaths on Thursday – a southwest Sydney woman in her 90s and man in his 80s – taking the toll for the current outbreak to 13.
Of the record 239 cases – which surpasses the 212 cases recorded on March 27, 2020 – at least 22 were in the community for part of their illnesses and 66 were infectious in the community.
The isolation status of 70 cases remains under investigation.
The source for 126 is still under investigation.
‘We can only assume that things are likely to get worse before they get better given the quantum of people infectious in the community,’ Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Thursday
‘Can we stress again, as we have in the past weeks – most of these transmissions are occurring amongst households and in workplaces, but also in health settings.’
The 239 cases came from almost 111,000 COVID-19 tests.
At least 88 of the new cases recorded on Thursday were circulating in the community for all or part of their infectious period. Pictured: Pedestrians walk through the deserted streets of Parramatta, in Sydney’s west, as the city braces for another month in lockdown
Statewide, penalties for not wearing a face mask across will increase from $200 to $500
There are 54 COVID-19 patients in NSW in intensive care, with 22 ventilated.
The government on Wednesday introduced new measures targeted at two million people in eight western Sydney local government areas where people cannot leave the area unless they are essential workers.
Meanwhile, nine young people – including eight teenagers – are accused of breaking stay at home orders and becoming involved in a high-speed pursuit with police in the NSW Hunter.
NSW Police say the teens were travelling in a Honda Civic and clocked driving 200km/h in a 110km zone.
Ms Berejiklian is facing criticism from one of her MPs, after keeping the Shellharbour region in lockdown despite no cases since October.
The decision was ‘bereft of common sense,’ Kiama MP Gareth Ward said.
The new restrictions include tighter mask mandates, increased penalties, and travel restrictions for Covid-hit localities
‘If COVID was rife in the Illawarra and if there were zero cases in Sydney, Sydney wouldn’t be in lockdown,’ the Liberal MP tweeted.
The Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong are also included in the extended lockdown.
Other lockdown measures announced on Wednesday included more financial support for businesses and workers, a singles bubble for people who live alone and a partial reopening of the construction sector from Saturday.
Year 12 students will also be able to return to school on August 16, with rapid antigen testing used to halt the virus at the school gate.