As expected, the NSW government has extended the lockdown for Greater Sydney by four weeks due to low COVID-19 vaccination rates across the state.
The extension of the stay-at-home orders means residents across Greater Sydney, including the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour, will have to wait until at least Saturday 28 August before they can exit lockdown.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the extra time will allow residents to significantly increase the uptake of vaccines in areas most affected by the current outbreak and across the state.
Berejiklian warned that higher vaccination rates and following the health orders are the only way to guarantee the further easing of restrictions.
“Though the Pfizer supply is insufficient, there is plenty of AstraZeneca, and updated federal health advice recommends anyone aged 18 and over in Greater Sydney should access the jab,” she said.
“If you are unvaccinated, please organise a jab as soon as you possibly can, especially if you live in an LGA of concern.”
The extended lockdown comes with changes to restrictions for Greater Sydneysiders in regard to shopping, work, construction and education.
A ‘singles bubble’ will also be introduced from Saturday, allowing people who live alone to nominate one designated family member or friend to visit for companionship. Restrictions will apply for people in the LGAs of concern.
News of Greater Sydney’s extended stay-at-home orders comes as the lockdown shackles were broken for Victoria and South Australia today.
At a press conference yesterday, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said that while the state’s exit from lockdown was good news, a lot of restrictions remain.
For the next two weeks, Victoria’s 10-kilometre travel limit has been be lifted, but no visitors are allowed in homes.
The one-person-per-four-square-metre rule applies to hospitality and retail venues and gyms, but masks are still mandatory both indoors and outdoors.
The state’s ski fields are now open, but those heading to the snow require a negative test to enter.
However, in bad news for those living and/or working in Wagga Wagga, Hay, Lockhart and Murrumbidgee, all four local government areas have been scrapped from the border bubble between Victoria and NSW.
“If you want to travel to Victoria from those four local government areas, you would need a permit,” Premier Andrews said.
“We’re only granting permits for those who are approved workers, and even only then when it is absolutely necessary.
“I take no pleasure in having to essentially lock out those four communities from Victoria, but there’s a refusal to lock people in Sydney into Sydney, so I have no choice but to make these changes.
“I will foreshadow with you that there will be further border changes. I’m not in a place to announce those today, but I’ll announce those as soon as we can.”
South Australia’s stay-at-home order has also been lifted, meaning several changes to the current restrictions.
The density requirement for businesses has changed to one person per four square metres, and only seated consumption of food and beverages are permitted indoors and outdoors.
No singing, dancing or shisha consumption are allowed, private gatherings are capped at 10, and weddings and funerals are capped at 50 (the density limit applies).
Intrastate travel and events with under 1,000 people in South Australia are permitted, as long as density requirements are followed. Masks are also required for indoor events.
Further advice will be provided or events with a COVID Management Plan (events with over 1,000 people).
However, there is no change to South Australia’s border bubbles at this stage.
Premier Steven Marshall said the lifting of restrictions is a step towards normality and part of a sensible pathway out.
It is expected these restrictions will be in place for one week before further easing occurs.
South Australian Tourism Commission CEO Rodney Harrex said that while the end of the state’s lockdown is positive news, the restrictions will continue to have an impact on the tourism sector.
“The South Australian Tourism Commission is working on our own pathway out of this, and how we will entice South Australians to see SA again, as soon as it is safe to do so,” he said.
“We’re also continuing our work with organisers of our managed and sponsored events, to help get these up and running as again as quickly as possible.”
Featured image source: ABC News