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"We remain in a state of high alert." Gladys Berejiklian on what a NSW lockdown would look like.

New South Wales has been teetering on a knife's edge for several weeks now.

The state's daily COVID-19 cases have been hovering in the teens, as authorities work to contain various outbreaks. Most pressing right now are the 19 infections so far linked to the Tangara School for Girls in Cherrybrook, a suburb in Sydney's north-west.

"NSW remains in a state of high alert," Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday morning. 

"Please know that whilst numbers have remained stable in New South Wales for the past month, we can't be assured of that moving forward."

Watch: Premier Gladys Berejiklian on the current state of COVID-19 in NSW.


Video via Gladys Berejiklian/Twitter

A glance across the southern border shows the unnerving potential of NSW's situation. 

Victoria has recorded a sharp rise in infections since the end of June, largely courtesy of failures in hotel quarantine.

On Tuesday alone, the state recorded 410 new cases and 21 deaths, which is mercifully lower than the record-high of 725 infections on August 8.

Other states have been monitoring the situation, paying particular attention to the successes and shortfalls of the Victorian Government's response. But few have been watching more closely than NSW. 

Speaking at a press conference this morning, Premier Berejiklian hinted at what her state would do differently should the situation deteriorate.

Lessons from Victoria.

As daily cases climbed into triple figures in July, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews enforced Stage 3 lockdowns in specific hotspot areas. The rules were initially applied to certain postcodes, before being swiftly expanded to all of metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.

But the epidemic curve proved stubborn.

Melburnians are now 10 days into a six-week Stage 4 lockdown. That means they can only leave home for work, to provide care, for one hour of daily exercise and to shop for essentials (that task can only be performed by one person per household per day). A curfew is also in place between 8pm and 5am.

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It's a decision no state leader wants to make and one, it seems, Gladys Berejiklian isn't willing to.

"We don’t want to go down that path. We have tested various scenarios," she told media on Wednesday.

"Without passing any judgement or commentary — and I think about the Premier of Victoria every day, the pressure they are under — it seems apparent that any future scenario would involve cities rather than postcodes or local government areas."

In other words, she would likely enforce a lesser lockdown across a broader geographical area in the hope of avoiding Stage 4 altogether.

Three countries, three different lockdown strategies. The Quicky investigates which is fairing best. (Post continues below.)


The premier stated last month that her government is very much focused on a suppression strategy: that is, managing individual outbreaks rather than locking down the entire state.

"Every time we have an outbreak, we can't afford to lockdown, reopen, lockdown, reopen," she told ABC's 7.30.

"That is no way to live, and that is no way to be able to instill confidence [in] businesses to keep employing people."

That approach relies heavily on individuals and organisations doing the right thing. 

While Premier Berejiklian said there's been an increase in the number of people wearing masks, and in the number of businesses complying with COVID-safe policies, she stressed that there's room for improvement.

"I want to see a greater uptake on all of those categories and, if we don't see a greater uptake in the next little while, we will consider further measures in which we can increase that uptake," she said.

The premier didn't elaborate, but it's like she may have been alluding to mandating mask-wearing in certain situations. Her Health Minister Brad Hazzard certainly stressed the point on Wednesday.

"If you’re on public transport, you really should be wearing a mask. We’re not making it mandatory at this stage but we’re certainly saying to the community, wear a mask. If you’re in the shopping centres wear a mask. If you go to church, or a place of worship, wear a mask. It’s not a matter of actually asking whether it’s OK to do it, it’s a case of just do it."

Feature image: Getty.

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