Australia's most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) on Saturday extended lockdown to more areas as local transmission in the biggest city of Sydney still increased.
From 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, a two-week lockdown has been imposed on Greater Sydney and some surrounding areas including Wollongong, Blue Mountains and the Central Coast, extending from the four local government areas announced on Friday.
Under the new restrictions, which will last until midnight of July 9, people are only able to get out home for reasons including having to work or get educated outside the home, seeking medical attention, and purchasing essential goods and services.
Community sport was not permitted and weddings will be banned from 11:59 p.m. Sunday, while funerals will be limited to one person per 4 square meters with a cap of 100 people. Masks remained mandatory for all indoor venues except home.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told a press conference on Saturday afternoon that the authorities tightened the restrictions following health advice in a bid to curb the transmission given the high infectiousness of the Delta variant.
"When you have a contagious variant like the Delta virus, a three-day doesn't work. If we're going to do this, we need to do it properly," said Berejiklian.
A shopping mall is visited by few customers amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Sydney, Australia, on June 26, 2021. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)
"If after seven days there's a dramatic change in the trend, we'll obviously evaluate the situation. 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, in order to make sure that we get to our target of zero community transmission, which has always been our target from the beginning of the pandemic."
Even for those who already left Greater Sydney, so long as they have been in the zone since June 21, they have to follow the stay-at-home orders for that period for the 14 days since they left.
The state's decision came after the state saw 82 locally acquired COVID-19 cases in total in the latest outbreak since June 16, when the index case for the Bondi cluster, a driver who transported international flight crew was found to be infected with the Delta variant.
Surfers are seen at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, on June 26, 2021. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)
The daily increase recorded on Saturday was 29 local cases in the 24 hours to 8:00 p.m. Friday night, among which 17 cases were announced on Friday morning.
Berejiklian said an earlier end of the two-week lockdown if the state could realize zero local transmission is unlikely, and she expected more cases in the coming days with the increasing exposure sites and public transport routes.
"The best advice from health is that we should brace ourselves for additional cases. Because the contact tracers have done such a good job in identifying potential cases and their close contacts, just from those numbers alone and how transmissible the virus is, we know that the numbers will go up in the next few days," she said.
Free face masks are provided on the streets in Sydney CBD, Australia, on June 26, 2021. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)
Berejiklian also flagged to offer financial support for local businesses and people in need.
"So nobody should feel stressed or pressured to break any of the rules because of their financial situation. The NSW government will be there to support businesses and, of course, the Commonwealth support to households kicks in as well," she said.
"We will provide that information and that detail in the next few days."
With the NSW's latest restriction, the state of Tasmania also decided to close borders to any travelers from the Greater Sydney area from 4:00 p.m. Saturday.
Published : June 27, 2021
By : Xinhua