Sydney Covid-19 cluster causes pubs, restaurants and bars to close voluntarily

New South Wales residents are being urged to be on high alert, following a day where the coronavirus outbreak at Sydney’s northern beaches grew to 28.

People line up for a Covid-19 coronavirus testing at Mona Vale Hospital in Sydney on December 18, 2020. (Photo by Steven Saphore / AFP)

People line up for a Covid-19 testing at Mona Vale Hospital in Sydney yesterday.
Photo: AFP

The state has recorded 10 new cases linked to the northern beach cluster.

Some venues on Sydney’s Northern Beaches are so concerned about a growing local coronavirus cluster they have voluntarily closed this weekend to help contain the outbreak.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard last night took to Twitter to thank the venues, which he said included churches, cafes, bars and all but three pubs in the region.

The development follows a rise in the number of cases linked to the Avalon cluster, after 10 new cases were reported yesterday.

It brings the total number of known cases within the cluster to 28.

The entire state is now on high alert with all NSW residents advised to get tested with even the most minor symptoms after a series of venues across Greater Sydney were visited by confirmed cases.

One case, linked to the Northern Beaches cluster, is in self-isolation at home on the Central Coast, sparking further concerns cases could spread.

In a social media post, hospitality company Merivale said it had “made the difficult decision” to temporarily close its Northern Beaches venues, The Newport and Bert’s Bar and Brasserie, The Collaroy and Queen Chow Manly.

“The safety of our staff and guests is our first priority always … stay safe Sydney,” the post said.

The closures come after the Northern Beaches Council and NSW Police stepped in yesterday to shut down a large market at Warriewood.

The Beaches Market is a popular event with people crowding and shopping.

Organisers were criticised by the council for going ahead with the event as cases continued to rise.

Beaches from Manly to North Palm Beach were also closed to encourage people to remain at home.

There were large queues at Covid-19 testing clinics across the Northern Beaches, with some people being turned away.

Kerry told ABC local radio she waited nearly six hours at the drive-through clinic in Manly, only to be turned away.

“I just got in the gate and someone came up and started saying they’re not testing anymore and we might as well go home,” she said.

People line up for a Covid-19 coronavirus testing at Mona Vale Hospital in Sydney on December 18, 2020. (Photo by Steven Saphore / AFP)

A woman waits for a Covid test in Sydney.
Photo: AFP

Doctors call for mandatory masks

NSW Health yesterday issued a “strong advisory” for all Northern Beaches residents to wear masks when attending indoor public venues, such as shopping centres, workplaces and on public transport.

But more than two dozen doctors from across Australia called on the NSW Government to act faster and do more to contain the outbreak.

In a letter to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Hazzard and 28 doctors from across the country called for a series of health measures to be put in place in the next 24 hours, including mandatory mask-wearing.

“We have learnt from the experience of our colleagues in Victoria,” the letter read.

It also called for mandatory masks for patients and visitors in healthcare settings and compulsory N95 masks for healthcare workers treating suspected and confirmed cases.

One of the letter’s signatories, paediatric cardiologist Kate Jardine, said aerosol transmission of the virus needed to also be acknowledged by health authorities, with increased ventilation in hospital and aged care facilities to prevent the spread.


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