Millions of Sydney residents will be under movement control orders until at least July 9, as the New South Wales state government announced more Covid-19 cases on Sunday.
An additional 30 cases were reported as authorities tightened curbs and warned of potentially longer or wider restrictions to come.
NSW Health said there were now 79 patients being treated for Covid-19. “One of whom is in intensive care but not being ventilated,” the state ministry said. “Most cases (94 per cent) are being treated in non-acute, out-of-hospital care, including returned travellers.”
People living in the City of Sydney as well as the Waverley, Randwick, Canada Bay, Inner West, Bayside and Woollahra local government areas, will only be allowed to leave their homes for shopping for food or other essential goods and services, medical care or compassionate needs, exercise outdoors in groups of 10 or fewer, or essential work, or education, that cannot be performed from home.
These additional cases have been to exposure sites outside the Sydney local government areas, which have already been locked down. As a result, “health advice is evolving” and “if we need to take further action we will immediately notify the community”, said Gladys Berejiklian, NSW premier.
“Do not leave metropolitan Sydney under any circumstances,” she said.
New Zealand has suspended its quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia over the outbreaks.
On Saturday, Paul Kelly, Australia’s chief medical officer, widened the hotspot area to include Wollongong, more than 80km south of Sydney, as well as the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions.
Australia’s federal Covid-19 committee is due to hold an emergency meeting on Monday over the rising case numbers.
Victorian health minister Martin Foley warned people from NSW hotspots to stay out of the state or face a A$5,000 fine.
He said Victoria Police were patrolling border areas and using mobile and automated technology to scan car number plates of people entering the state from NSW.
Darwin, in Australia’s remote Northern Territory, faces a two-day lockdown over an outbreak centred on a mine.
There are now five positive cases detected from the Granites gold mine in the Tanami Desert. One case has since travelled to New South Wales, another to Queensland and a third to Palmerston, near Darwin.
The 48-hour lockdown applies to the Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield council areas
The Smith Street mall in Darwin’s centre was deserted on Sunday, ABC reported, and shop shutters were rolled down as the lockdown came into effect.
Small businesses forced to close would receive a one-off payment of A$1,000 (US$750), said Michael Gunner, chief minister.