New South Wales authorities have announced a four-week extension of the Greater Sydney lockdown alongside a raft of updated restrictions as they work to curb the state’s current COVID-19 outbreak.
Citing low vaccination rates, authorities on Wednesday confirmed the current stay-at-home orders for Greater Sydney – including the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour – will remain in place until 28 August.
“It was fairly obvious, given the way the numbers were going in the last few days, it would have not been possible for us to get out of lockdown tomorrow or Friday,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Wednesday.
The updated restrictions for Greater Sydney apply to shopping and construction, with a support bubble for single people living alone and a pathway for Year 12 students to return to classrooms also announced. Fines for not wearing a mask across NSW have now also increased from $200 to $500.
Here’s a rundown of what’s changed.
As Greater Sydney residents enter their fifth week of lockdown, authorities have announced a singles bubble, allowing people who live alone to choose one family member or friend to visit.
But that person cannot change day-to-day and must remain the same for the next four weeks.
NSW Health says restrictions will apply for people in the eight local government areas of concern, which now extend to Parramatta, Campbelltown, Georges River, Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Blacktown and Cumberland.
Anyone in those areas wanting to form a bubble must ensure their buddy is also from that LGA and within a 5km distance. Anyone outside those areas cannot from a bubble with anyone in them.
For single people outside those LGAs, there is no limit on the distance they can travel to see their buddy, as it has been for intimate partners since the start of the lockdown.
Shopping and exercise
Rules around shopping have been brought closer to those for exercise.
Greater Sydney residents must limit their shopping to within their LGA or within 10km from their home, unless the item is not available locally.
However, residents of the eight LGAs can only shop and exercise within 5kms from their home.
Non-essential workers and surveillance testing
Non-essential workers in Parramatta, Campbelltown and Georges River – which have now joined the five existing LGAs of concern – are not allowed to leave their areas for work.
Only essential or authorised workers in these eight LGAs may leave their area for work.
From Saturday 31 July, all authorised workers from Canterbury-Bankstown must get tested for COVID-19 once every three days in order to leave their area.
In the Fairfield and Cumberland LGAs, only healthcare and aged care workers are required to be tested every three days.
Construction and business
From 12:01am on 31 July, construction in non-occupied settings outside the LGAs of concern can re-open as planned, but workers onsite will be capped at one person per four square metres. These “low risk” sites must have COVID safe plans in place.
Tradespeople, including cleaners who are able to work with zero contact with residents, will also be allowed to resume work but with no more than two people inside and five outside.
If contactless arrangements aren’t possible, the work cannot go ahead.
Construction and trade work cannot resume in the eight LGAs of concern, nor will workers be allowed to leave those areas.
Year 12 students
The state government says Year 12 students are set to return to face-to-face learning on 16 August, with plans being finalised to resume in-class study under strict COVID protocols.
“The NSW government is also working with industry and the Department of Education to introduce rapid antigen testing to mitigate against outbreaks in workplaces and schools,” NSW Health said in a statement.
Those students in the eight LGAs of concern will start being vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, with supplies set to be redirected from regional NSW.
All other students in Greater Sydney will continue remote learning for the next four weeks.