Australia’s most populous state brought in tougher measures after 44 new coronavirus cases were reported in the community overnight.
At a press conference today, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced tougher rules for the stay-at-home order now in force across greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Shellharbour, and Wollongong. Only one person per household can leave their homes for essential shopping at any one time, with no browsing in shops allowed. Outdoor gatherings limited to just two people, excluding members of the same household, while exercise and outdoor recreation must be done within 10 kilometers of one’s home address or within the local government area. It will still be possible for residents to visit the home of an intimate partner if they live apart; the NSW government has made the “heartbreaking” decision to reduce the permitted number of mourners at funerals to just 10 people from Sunday onward.
The new restrictions were made public shortly after New South Wales logged 44 new locally acquired cases, with 21 of those from southwest Sydney, eight from the southeast suburbs, and seven from the west. This figure marks the biggest daily increase of the state’s current coronavirus outbreak. Nineteen of those cases were out in the community while infectious, and close contacts doubled overnight to 14,000, as the list of exposure sites grew to include a busy Ikea store frequented by as many as 2,000 shoppers over an 11-hour period. This development comes days after greater Sydney’s lockdown was extended by a week; the Premier said restrictions were not likely to be lifted by July 16 unless there was a “dramatic turnaround” in the infection numbers. When asked how long this lockdown was expected to last, Berejiklian replied, “It is really up to us how long we are in the situation for.”
The NSW Premier added, “What I can say is that our target has to be zero or close to zero community transmission before we can live a normal life like we did prior to the lockdown. That is because of how contagious this is. And that is because our vaccination rates are only at nine percent.”