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Sydney’s northern beaches will enter a legally enforced four-day lockdown from 5pm on Saturday in an effort to preserve chances of a “normal Christmas”, as the number of cases believed to be linked to the state’s cluster swells to 38.
The New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has warned the state should brace for new infection numbers announced on Sunday to be greater than the 23 locally acquired cases announced on Saturday, as she revealed her government would be consulting health experts throughout Saturday about extending a more relaxed version of the northern beaches lockdown to the rest of greater Sydney from Sunday.
Berejikian told more than 4 million people across greater Sydney to abandon all non-essential activity until midnight Wednesday, as residents on the northern beaches prepare to enter lockdown.
From 5pm on Saturday until midnight on Wednesday, residents in the Northern Beaches Council – which takes in more than 50km from The Spit to Avalon – will only be able to leave their homes for essential reasons, in lockdown conditions that Berejiklian likened to the statewide public health order issued in March.
While the NSW government is working with lawyers on Saturday to finalise the public health order details, Berejiklian said: “We do want to stress that it’s OK to go out and exercise.
“It’s OK to go out and do essential shopping, so don’t panic buy please, you can go shopping anytime.
“It’s OK to go out and do work, it’s OK to go out for compassionate grounds including emergency medical treatment or anything else or to visit an isolated relative.”
Venues, including gyms, will have to close under the order, however takeaway will still be allowed.
Only 13 of the 23 new Covid-19 cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday had not been previously announced. Ten of the cases were included in the numbers Berejiklian revealed in a press conference on Friday morning. From Sunday, case numbers will only be revealed once a day, at an 11am press conference.
Berejiklian warned the public health order, which will lead to fines for anyone caught breaching it, is in anticipation of growing numbers.
“The advice I’ve received today it suggests that we’ll get at least the same number of cases if not more tomorrow,” she said.
“The rationale [behind the public health order] is because the case numbers are not looking like they will be going down in the next 48 hours, and if we want a chance to give people a good Christmas and a good new year’s, we’re trying to get on top of it more quickly,” she said.
In relation to expanding the lockdown across Sydney, Berejiklian said the decision would depend on whether new cases and “advice we get during the day” indicated seeding outside of the northern beaches, but that “the response in greater Sydney will not be anywhere near the tough position we’ve taken in relation to the northern beaches”.
“But I do want to say to greater Sydney, please please do not go out tonight, or the next few days, unless you really have to,” she said. “Can I please ask everybody to abandon non-essential activity.”
The state’s chief health officer, Kerry Chant, said that while only 21 of Friday’s cases had so far been definitely linked to venues or people associated with the northern beaches cluster, the other two new cases were in residents of the area, and investigators on Saturday were working to link the cases to the cluster.
She said authorities also believe the two further cases were part of the cluster because genomic sequencing showed they were the same strain of Covid-19, believed to be brought in from the United States.
Of the cases believed to be linked to the cluster, Chant said only three of the cases did not attend either the Avalon RSL club or the Avalon Bowling Club.
Chant also said analysis of sewage samples taken from the northern beaches on the 16 December was in line with how authorities believed the cluster to have spread, as the analysis of samples taken from the same basins on 10 December showed no traces of Covid-19.
“That gives us confidence that this is a relatively recent introduction to the northern beaches,” Chant said.
Berejiklian also said she “would have done the same” as other state leaders who have declared the northern beaches a hotspot, but cautioned against border closures that affected areas without community transmission.
On Saturday, NSW Health issued an updated list of venues of concern, including an alert for anyone who attended Anytime Fitness on Avalon Parade on 6, 7, 8, 11 and 12 December.
On Friday afternoon, NSW Health issued a “strong advisory” for all people in the northern beaches local government area to wear a mask at all times when indoors – including at shopping centres, supermarkets and on public transport. However the advisory is not being enforced by police.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Sydney coronavirus crisis: northern beaches locked down for four days as cases rise to 38 | Coronavirus