A statewide lockdown of New South Wales has begun after it set a new record in its Covid-19 outbreak.
Stay-at-home orders are in place across the state until 12.01am on Sunday, August 22.
Anyone who leaves their home will need to have a reasonable excuse. They also cannot have visitors in their home from outside their household, including family and friends. All hospitality venues will be closed to the public, including pubs, restaurants and cafes, except for takeaway. Most retail premises are required to close.
People who leave their home are required to carry a mask with them at all times. They must be worn when working outdoors, by all school staff, by all people in outdoor markets, outdoor shopping strips, and in an outdoor queues waiting for products such as coffee and food.
Berejiklian announced the new restrictions at 3.45pm (local time) via social media, rather than at her morning press conference.
Regional residents were given just over an hour to prepare for lockdown.
Police operation ordered to enforce restrictions
An unprecedented flood of NSW police officers, including heavily armed riot squad officers, and several hundred extra Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel will also inundate Sydney in a major lockdown compliance operation.
The extraordinary show of force, beginning this weekend, is in response to the worsening Covid-19 crisis in NSW, which on Saturday recorded its worst day yet with 466 new local cases.
Those high up the police food chain have pressured Premier Gladys Berejiklian to beef-up their powers with an updated health order, blaming low compliance for spiking infections.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said officers on the ground have reported difficulty “getting compliance from some members of the community”.
According to Fuller, movement within the Greater Sydney region still remains too high.
As a result, police will launch operation Stay At Home in the early hours of Monday morning with the help of 500 additional ADF troops deployed to residential areas across Sydney.
There are already 300 men and women of the armed services on the ground.
NSW now has 1400 Highway Patrol officers across the state working solely on enforcing compliance. Drivers have been told to expect more roadblocks, where police will be checking identification and proof of address.
“These are some of the strongest laws, with some of the strongest police action coming. I am not apologetic,” Fuller continued.
“Please don’t write in and complain to me, we have given ample warnings and cautions, and that time has gone. Thank you.”
Fuller said “some of the biggest fines that I have ever seen” will also apply to rule-breakers, warning he will “not apologise” for a hard line approach.
Residents in Greater Sydney have now had their 10km travel radius shaved down to 5km.
Singles in local government areas of concern will need to formally nominate a bubble partner within their circle. Those wishing to travel beyond their radius will need to apply for a permit.
A new permit system for the state will come in place midnight, will only allow “generally one person” from each household to travel for what is essential business.
A cafe in Leichhardt in the city’s inner-west was shut down this week for 14 days after “continual breaches of the health order”.
“I won’t apologise that more businesses will be closed over the next 21 days. The permit system is essential in terms of protecting regional New South Wales,” Fuller told the media.
“I think it is important that those people who have been getting around the orders, taking family on vacations to other premises, that is over.”
Premier Gladys Berejiklian today reminded the state of the additional fines for breaching any number of the state’s health orders.
“The health orders will be formally enforced from midnight [on Sunday], however between now and then police will still be able to impose these additional fines, even though the health orders kick in on Monday morning,” Berejiklian told cameras on Saturday morning.
Between now and then, if police have evidence that you are doing the wrong thing in any of these categories, these additional fines will apply:
– A$5,000 on the spot for quarantine breach, which is currently A$1000
– A$5,000 on the spot for lying on a permanent, for lying to a contact racer, which is already a criminal offence
– A$3000 on the spot for breaching the two person exercise rule in any way
– A$3000 on the spot for breaching rules going into regional New South Wales
“The buck stops with me,” she continued. “I’m the Premier. I have to make announcements and decisions on behalf of the government and we do that based on whole government advice, of government consultation, and we are working our way through this pandemic.
Berejiklian said NSW has to “accept that this is the worst situation the state has been in since day one”, with Primer Minister Scott Morrison declaring the Delta outbreak as Australia’s “third wave”.
“It has an impact on the national economy and health system, and that’s why we have been so vigilant in trying to get as many jabs in arms in as short a time period as possible,” she said, admitting many thought Australia was exempt of a coronavirus crisis after dodging astronomical case numbers as seen across the rest of the globe in 2021.
“For a long time, nearly a year and a half, we were different to the rest of the world, and now, we are not different from the rest of the world, the Delta strain is diabolical, and we have to accept and be real about that.”
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