About five weeks after its start, COVID-19 lockdowns in Sydney will continue for at least four more weeks.
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the additional month in a press conference on Wednesday. Sydney and its surrounding suburbs in New South Wales went into lockdown after an outbreak of COVID-19 and concerns about the Delta variant earlier this summer. The end date has repeatedly been delayed, but the four-week extension is the longest extension so far.
“We can only assume that things are likely to get worse before they get better given the quantity of people infectious in the community,” Berejiklian said.
Per Reuters, “residents there will be forced to wear masks outdoors and to stay within five km (three miles) of their homes. With even tighter restrictions set to begin on Friday, New South Wales Police said it had asked for 300 military personnel to help enforce lockdown orders.”
In addition, the fine for not wearing a mask will increase from $200 to $500 statewide.
The announcement coincides with news that Melbourne will end its fifth COVID-19 lockdown next Tuesday. Melbourne, the second most populated city in Australia, was in lockdown for five days. Restaurants and bars will reopen, but residents will be prohibited from having guests in their homes for two more weeks.
Since last month, Sydney has reported 2,397 infections. The state’s contact tracers are struggling to effectively let people know if they may have been exposed and where. The state’s health department has announced 49 new venues of potential outbreaks in a late-night public health alert on Tuesday. This included 13 supermarkets.
Sydney reports that as of Monday 14,000 close contacts were in isolation — double the number from three weeks earlier.
“Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Shoalhaven, Central Coast and Wollongong have been in lockdown since June 26, but coronavirus cases across the state have only grown — with more and more infectious in the community every day. Countless people have been unable to work across multiple industries, as the NSW [New South Wales] government struggles to contain the spread of the Indian Delta variant of the virus, especially in southwest Sydney,” reports The Daily Mail.
The NSW government confirmed a new “bubble” system for single residents. Under this new system, single individuals who live alone can select one good friend or relative to go into their residence throughout lockdown. The person must be within a 10km distance.
Additionally, NSW “permits one individual every day to buy groceries, and [they] have to be inside 10km of their house.” Sontson Media also notes that residents of “southwestern and western Sydney” are “not allowed to depart [their] house, even for work until they are an authorised employee.”
The new measures go into effect in Sydney on July 31 at 12:01 a.m.