NSW could face targeted lockdowns
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned the state is at a "critical point" in the pandemic and now there talks of restaurants and pubs could be facing lockdowns.
Yesterday NSW announced 20 new COVID-19 cases, with the southwest Sydney cluster continuing to grow and new hotspots emerging closer to the city and on the NSW south coast.
It was the highest number of daily infections recorded in NSW since April.
However, Ms Berejiklian said NSW still had the opportunity to "isolate the cases that we have and to make sure we reduce the incidence of the virus spreading".
She said the next few weeks were critical in getting the outbreak under control.
"If we get through the next three or four weeks the way we have we will be able to have medium to long term surety that NSW can keep moving forward but if we slide backwards that means all of us will need to face situations we shouldn't have to," she told reporters.
Following the premier's comments, a senior minister told The Sydney Morning Herald that NSW could be facing a targeted lockdown situation, with "predominantly pubs and restaurants" in the firing line.
Another unnamed senior minister told the publication while there was "no appetite for a full lockdown", some "high-risk" venues such as gyms posed a threat.
"I think there is a feeling that some things may have gone too far, too quickly and we will need to tighten some areas again," the minister said.
Another senior minister said that it was more likely rules around wearing masks would be introduced before another lockdown, though some restrictions around businesses like shopping centres could be brought back in.
More than 40 venues across NSW have already been impacted by the latest wave of COVID-19 outbreaks.
Epidemiologist and World Health Organisation Adviser, Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, has previously said that more restrictions and the use of masks need to be brought in across NSW.
She called on the NSW government to being back restrictions "sooner rather than later", before the outbreak gets out of control.
"I hope authorities will revisit the restrictions," she told news.com.au.
"We don't want to do it later. As an epidemiologist, if we wait too long we will find it very difficult to contain this virus.
"If the government decides not to return us to restrictions, what they need to do is tighten up public gatherings such as putting a mask on when you're using public transport, or in a work situation where you can't keep your distance."
NSW has already announced tighter restrictions on venues and "higher risk" activities.
From 12.01am on Friday restaurants, bars, cafes and clubs will be operating under the same measures introduced for pubs.
The new restrictions limit group bookings to a maximum of 10 people, require businesses to have COVID-Safe plans and register as a COVID-safe businesses and require a digital record of all visitors.
Weddings and corporate events will be limited to 150 people subject to the four square metre rule. Strict COVID-Safe plans must be in place and high-risk activities including choirs and dancing have been banned.
Funerals and places of worship will be limited to 100 people, subject to the one person per four square metre rule and must have a COVID-Safe business registration.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said this tightening was to reduce the risk of uncontrollable breakouts and ensure NSW stays open for business.
"Unfortunately we must live with COVID-19 and the way it has changed our lives," Ms Berejiklian said.
"These rules will give businesses and the community a degree of certainty into the foreseeable future, and help NSW avoid uncontrolled virus spread."