Greater Sydney placed in lockdown: What we learnt at NSW's latest COVID-19 press conference.

New lockdown measures have been introduced as the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney worsens. 

On Saturday afternoon, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced all of Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong, will go into lockdown with stay-at-home orders in place until midnight Friday, July 9.

The state reported 29 new locally acquired cases in the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday, 17 of which had been announced yesterday. The source of one case remains under investigation.

Sydney has been battling to contain a cluster of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which is up to twice as infectious as the original virus that arrived in Australia last year.

"Even though we don't want to impose burdens unless we absolutely have to, unfortunately, this is a situation where we have to," the Premier said during the press conference.

"I said that this the scariest time since the pandemic started and that's proven to be the case."

What areas are in lockdown?

The heightened restrictions come into effect at 6pm tonight (Saturday) and apply to:

  • All of Greater Sydney
  • The Blue Mountains
  • The Central Coast
  • Wollongong

Anyone who has been in these areas since June 21 is also required to follow the stay-at-home orders for a period of 14 days after they left the region.

How long will the lockdown last?

The new restrictions will apply until midnight Friday, July 9. That's a one-week extension of the stay-at-home orders that are already in place in inner and eastern Sydney

"Now, if after seven days there's a dramatic change in the trend, we'll obviously evaluate the situation," the Premier said. 

"But at this stage, the best health advice we have is that a two-week period or until midnight on Friday, July 9, is necessary."


What are the lockdown rules?

Residents of Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong are required to remain at home unless absolutely necessary.

The Premier stipulated that "necessary" reasons to leave home are:

  • "If you must work outside the home or get educated outside the home."
  • "If you need to seek medical attention, including getting a COVID test, getting a vaccine or any other medical attention, you're allowed to."
  • "You're also allowed to leave the home for care and compassionate grounds." 
  • "And obviously, you're allowed outside to purchase goods, essential goods and services."
  • Outdoor exercise is also permitted, but it groups no larger than 10.

Community sport will not be permitted. 

Weddings will only be allowed tomorrow (Sunday) under COVID-19 restrictions, but cannot take place for the remainder of the lockdown period.

Funerals will be capped at 100 people and masks will be mandatory with the one per four square metre rule applying.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard elaborated that retails stores can remain open, but urged caution.

"Obviously, we're expecting the community to go out only for essential buying. That might be, for example, going and getting your groceries," he said. "But you may need to go and buy some blankets or get clothes. 

"Don't loiter. Don't go for a wander around a shopping centre that might have a number of shops open. Just use your common sense."

The Premier also urged residents to scan the QR codes whenever they go.

"Can I also stress that during this time, even when you're going out to buy food or going about your business or essential work, that every time you use the QR codes," she said.

What about regional NSW?

New restrictions have been introduced for regional NSW.

"In the regions, no more than five visitors in your home," the Premier said. 

"All hospitality has to be seated — one person per four-square metre rule. Only a 50 per cent capacity for outdoor events. Indoor mask-wearing and, again, restrictions in relation to funerals and weddings.

"I'm just asking everybody not to cut corners because if just a handful of people cut corner, all of us end up in a very difficult situation," she added.

Will struggling Sydneysiders be receiving financial support?

"In the next few days, we'll be announcing support to businesses and also the Federal Government support to household kicks in at a certain time," Premier Berejiklian said.

"And obviously, that will kick in. So nobody should feel stressed or pressured to break any of the rules because of their financial situation. The New South Wales Government will be there to support businesses and, of course, the Commonwealth support to households kicks in as well. 

"We will provide that information and that detail in the next few days."

Feature image: Getty.