Though many hoped they would see lockdown lift on its proposed date of July 9, health experts had warned not to be too hopeful. With community cases of the delta strain continuing across NSW, it was believed cases would only climb sharply were lockdown restrictions to be lifted on July 9. And so, we waited with bated breath to see what Premier Gladys Berejiklian would do, perhaps knowing that the outlook was a bleak one. And now, after extending the lockdown, the Premier is suggesting the lockdown will continue past the newly proposed end date of July 16 unless there’s a “dramatic turnaround” in Sydney’s Covid-19 outbreak, after dramatic numbers crushed hopes of ending lockdown early. Today, NSW has recorded a shocking 44 new locally acquired cases - the highest number since the latest outbreak began on June 16. More worrying though, is that 27 of those cases had been out in the community for some or all of their infectious period.
As the Premier said, “It tells us that in the next few days…both the case numbers and unfortunately the number of people who may be exposed, or have been exposed, in the community is going to go up. This is the opposite of where we need or want the numbers to trend.”
The Premier announced that until there is a turnaround in numbers, restrictions are unlikely to ease by next Friday. Now, an additional raft of restrictions have been introduced in the hope that numbers will decline. As of 5:00pm today:
- Outdoor public gatherings limited to two people (excluding members of the same household)
- People must stay in their LGA or within 10 kilometres of home for exercise and outdoor recreation, with no carpooling between non-household members
- Browsing in shops is prohibited, plus only one person per household each day can leave the home to shop.
- From July 11, funerals will be limited to no more than 10 people in total.
As the Premier announced, “We have to quash the community transmission because if we don’t, we will see thousands and thousands of people in hospital, and…thousands of people, potentially, dying. Until we get those vaccination rates higher, we do not have the luxury of considering living with this virus. We don’t have that as an option.”
With the current lockdown extension, those in the greater Sydney regions including Wollongong, Shellharbour, Blue Mountains and the Central Coast will see restrictions continue until 11.59pm on 16 July. School students in the lockdown area will also be learning from home for the first week of term three, except for children of essential workers who will be allowed to attend schools as per earlier lockdown restrictions.
Speaking at a press conference, the Premier announced that the reason for the extension is largely due to the Delta strain which is a “game-changer.” She added, “It is extremely transmissible and more contagious than any other form of the virus that we’ve seen. The reason the NSW government has taken this position is because we don’t want to be in a situation where we are constantly having to move between lockdown, no lockdown, lockdown, no lockdown. What we want to do is give us our best chance of making sure this is the only lockdown we have until the vast majority of our citizens are vaccinated.”
She added, “We know the vaccine is the key to our freedom. The vaccine is key to saving lives and keeping the economy open. We appreciate and understand the stress this means for individuals, for families and, of course, for businesses. But what would be far worse is being in a situation where you have to live in and out of lockdown until that period of time when we have the vaccine available to us. That is not a way to live and we want to give our citizens the best chance of staying safe and healthy but also making sure our businesses survive and thrive moving forward until that vaccination period is upon us. That is the content why we made this decision.”
Prior to the announcement, the Premier noted that she would ensure this lockdown would be the last before widespread vaccination is achieved. After the NSW government’s Crisis Cabinet Committee sat through extensive meetings to determine the best outcome for the state amid the growing Covid crisis, a decision was reached to lengthen the stay-at-home orders.
The restrictions continue: those in NSW must stay indoors until 11:59pm on Friday July 16, only leaving the house for essential reasons like shopping, exercise or for medical reasons including if you need to receive the Covid-19 vaccine shot.