New South Wales government announces ‘modest changes’ to restrictions for Sydney

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The New South Wales government has announced “modest changes” to coronavirus restrictions across Greater Sydney, but most lockdown orders will remain for the northern beaches over Christmas.

A health official takes samples for Covid-19 tests from residents of the northern beaches in Sydney on 20 December 2020.

A health official takes samples for Covid-19 tests from residents of the northern beaches in Sydney.
Photo: AFP

Premier Gladys Berejiklian held a “crisis Cabinet” meeting this morning to determine how people across NSW would spend their Christmas Day.

After announcing eight new positive Covid-19 cases, the premier revealed there would now be two sets of restrictions for the northern and southern areas of the northern beaches.

The northern section includes anyone living north of Narrabeen Bridge and east of the Baha’i temple in Mona Vale, and the southern section the rest of the local government area.

“If you’re a resident of the northern part of the northern beaches … you cannot leave your area. You are still in lockdown,” she said.

“You can’t accept anybody [from] outside your community and I apologise for that but we have to maintain a lockdown in that area – with one exception.

“On the 24th, 25th and 26th, you’re allowed to have five people into your home, but they must be people from within that region.

“If, you know, you have a neighbour and all their relatives live outside that area, please consider being a good neighbour and perhaps spending that time with them.”

People in the southern area will be allowed to have 10 people over to their homes plus an uncapped number of children aged under 12 between 24 to 26 December, but will not be allowed to leave the area themselves.

“We don’t want people from the [southern part of the] northern beaches mingling in other parts of Sydney at this stage, but you can welcome people in,” Berejiklian said.

“We will be letting people know on Boxing Day what December 27 looks like for the southern part of the northern beaches.”

The premier said the measures were decided on with a “number of factors” in mind.

“A number of people on the northern beaches have been in lockdown now for a considerable amount of days and not been in contact with anybody,” Berejiklian said.

“Please note that what we’re putting forward is very modest and it’s based [and] is assessed against what the best data is telling us.”

She said the restrictions for the northern part of the area was “stricter” because it stopped anyone from the north visiting other parts of the northern beaches.

Residents in Greater Sydney will be allowed to host unlimited numbers of children aged under 12 in their homes, in addition to the maximum of 10 adults per household, for the next three days.

Transport case linked to Avalon cluster

The changes to restrictions come as NSW health authorities recorded an additional eight cases – seven linked to the Avalon cluster, which has now grown to 97 cases.

The eighth case is a close contact of a health worker involved in quarantine transport.

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said the eighth case was still under investigation.

“This is the contact of the transport healthcare worker that transports patients,” she said.

“What I can confirm is that genome sequencing has indicated that this person did not acquire their infection through transporting the patients that had the Covid-19 infection on 14 December.

“In fact, this sequencing shows that it’s linked to the Avalon cluster.”

Dr Chant said she had also been given information just before the update that a Qantas staff member who returned from overseas and flew into Sydney from Darwin on 18 December had tested positive.

“That person has flown on a domestic flight, there were a number of precautions in place but there will be a limited number of people on the flight,” she said.

About 250,000 northern beaches residents have been confined to their homes since Saturday evening, only leaving for approved reasons such as shopping, exercise and medical care.

In Greater Sydney, Central Coast and Illawara-Shoalhaven, the one-person-per-4-square-metre rule was reintroduced, dancing was again mostly banned and household visitors were capped at 10 people.

– ABC

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