Greater Sydney lock down for another month

Millions of people in Greater Sydney and beyond will remain in lockdown for another four weeks as NSW recorded another 177 locally acquired COVID-19 infections.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed a five-week lockdown will be extended until at least August 28 for Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour.

“I am as upset and frustrated as all of you that we were not able to get the case numbers we would have liked at this point in time but that is the reality,” she said on Wednesday. 

The extra time would allow more people to get vaccinated, particularly in areas most affected by the current outbreak.

“We really need people to do the right thing at all times,” she said. 

“Do not let your guard down.”

Of the 177 cases recorded in the 24-hours to 8pm on Tuesday, 68 were circulating in the community for all (46) or part (22) of their infectious period. The isolation status of another 62 remains under investigation.

A woman in her 90s died overnight in Liverpool Hospital, bringing the state’s death toll for the current outbreak which began mid-June to 11.

The Parramatta, Campbelltown and Georges River local government areas have been added to five others meaning only essential workers can leave those zones.

“That localised, targeted response is what we hope will have the desired effect. Having fewer people mobile from those communities we know the virus is circulating,” Ms Berejiklian said.

But HSC students will return to the classroom on August 16 and those in the eight local government areas where the virus is spreading quickly will start being vaccinated with the Pfizer jab.

A singles bubble will be introduced, allowing those who live alone to nominate one designated family member or friend to visit for companionship, with restrictions in LGAs of concern.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said construction with new COVID-19 protocols would resume in Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour on Saturday.

“This is a gesture of goodwill from the government through health advice, working with the sector to allow the sector to start back up later this year,” he said.

Construction activity, including works in residential homes where there is no contact between workers and residents, will be allowed.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the state and federal government JobSaver program would be “significantly boosted” to give greater support to businesses and individuals impacted by the extended lockdown

JobSaver payments will now be available to businesses with an annual turnover of between $75,000 and $250 million, up from $50 million, which have experienced a revenue decline of 30 per cent or more.

The maximum weekly payment has also been increased, with businesses that maintain their employee headcount now able to receive between $1,500 and $100,000 per week, up from $10,000.

Payments will be based on 40 per cent of their weekly NSW payroll.

“We have made it clear that businesses can’t reduce headcount,” Mr Perrottet said. 

“We want to make sure that workers remain connected to their businesses as we move through this lockdown period.”

Wednesday marks the first day adults aged 18 to 39 can book an AstraZeneca jab at participating pharmacies while they can also book with NSW vaccination hubs from Friday.

The premier thanked the tens of thousands of people in NSW who had gone to get the AstraZeneca vaccine over the last few days. 

In NSW, 30.4 per cent of the population has now received their first dose of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca.

Some 13.1 per cent of the population – 1.07 million residents – have received two doses.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant commended the 95,532 people who had been tested in the 24-hour period to Tuesday night. 

Dr Chant said the two main drivers of transmission were still in households and workplaces.

“I again urge you to take up the opportunity for vaccination as soon as possible,” she said. 

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