The Northern Beaches of Sydney have reverted to lockdown measures unseen since March in response to COVID-19 outbreaks.
Just as Victoria officially eliminated COVID-19, the local government areas of the Northern Beaches of Sydney will be forced to stay home from 5pm with the exception of four essential reasons. Premier Gladys Berejiklian outlined the rulings in a press conference this morning addressing the 38 known coronavirus cases linked to a cluster at the Avalon RSL and bowling club.
The announcement comes after contact tracing revealed the virus could have potentially been spread outside of the Northern Beaches as individuals with COVID-19 visited Bondi Westfield, the Cronulla Mall and RSL, and elsewhere. In wake of the announcement, Queensland and Western Australia have shut their borders to New South Wales, and Victoria have announced a ban on travelling from the Northern Beaches. If COVID-19 continues to spread to greater Sydney, the mandatory lockdown will include greater Sydney as well.
The four essential reasons to leave your home outlined by Berejiklian include going shopping for food and essential items, going to work, to receive medical treatment, or on compassionate grounds such as caring for an ill relative.
Acting Chief Medical Officer of Australia, Paul Kelly (no, not gravy daddy) says health authorities are working on the hypothesis that the Northern Beaches cluster is likely to have come from a traveller from the US at the start of December.
Professor Kelly said, “The molecular genomic testing of the virus suggests that is where it probably started. In a sense, that is patient zero, case zero, then we had the large clusters of people that attended those two venues in Avalon on the 11th and the 13th of the month.”
“There is a gap there. We haven’t identified the gap yet, how that virus got to the Avalon RSL. We have a clue overnight about the slightly earlier case from the Anytime Fitness, that person became ill on the 10th. We are getting closer to closing the gap. There is still a mystery about how that actually happened.”
NSW recorded 23 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
Seven cases were reported in overseas travellers. This brings the total number of cases in NSW since the start of the pandemic to 4,523. pic.twitter.com/5UmARm4aZq
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) December 19, 2020
The lockdown is expected by authorities to only be in place for four days while contact tracers hunt down the virus and residents get tested.
“We are hoping that will give us sufficient time to get on top of the virus so we can then ease up for Christmas and the New Year moving forward,” Ms Berejiklian said.
For the rest of Sydney, it has been requested by NSW health that residents of greater Sydney abandon nonessential activity until next Wednesday also, in the event the virus could possibly have spread elsewhere.
“Please limit your activity. We are asking you to do this in good faith. If you are planning a night out tonight, we ask you to consider changing those plans on staying at home…We want people to stay at home tonight and the next few nights so that we can ensure the virus does not spread.”
You heard them guys, it might be time for some time with your immediate household tonight, and possibly a time for a little self love if you need it.