The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced modest changes to restrictions over the Christmas period to allow residents in lockdown to still have some semblance of Christmas celebrations.
The premier said the crisis council had weighed up the risks to public health and people’s mental health when making the decision to tweak the lockdown conditions.
For the next three days (December 24, 25 and 26 residents will have slightly relaxed conditions. If you are in regional NSW there are no changes and you have free movement to visit friends and relatives.
Those in Greater Sydney will now be able to have 10 people visit their house plus children under 12.
The Northern Beaches will now be split into two zones the northern and southern zone, with different conditions for each location over the next three days. Residents of the northern part of the Northern Beaches are still unable to leave their home but are able to accept five people into their home – as long as they also reside in the same community.
“If you’re a resident of the northern part of the Northern Beaches, if you live north of the Narrabeen Bridge and east of the Bahar Temple at Mona Vale roads, you cannot leave your area,” Berejiklian said.
“You are still in lockdown. You can’t accept anybody outside your community and I apologise for that but we have to maintain a lockdown in that area.”
Those in the southern zone (such as Manly or Dee Why) will be allowed to have 10 people into their home on the 24th, 25th and 26th. However, they can’t leave the area.
“You can have other people come in from the region or other parts of Greater Sydney,” the Premier said.
“But you can’t leave. We don’t want people from the Northern Beaches mingling in other parts of Sydney at this stage, but you can welcome people in.”
Decide if you want to invite people in
The premier stressed it is up to individuals to assess whether they would like to welcome any visitors to their homes.
“You may feel uncomfortable in going somewhere and welcoming someone to your home and everybody has to make that assessment,” the premier said.
“The last thing any of us want to do is inadvertently give the disease to those closest and dearest to us. I please ask everybody to think about that.”
Another record day of testing
The easing of restrictions came as the state records over 42,000 tests overnight with only eight cases of local transmission. Of these new cases, seven are linked to the Avalon cluster while the eighth was a close contact of the NSW health transport worker.
That takes the total number of cases linked to the Avalon cluster to 97.
Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said genome sequencing had now identified that the health worker did not acquire COVID-19 from returning travellers but in fact their infection was linked to the Avalon Cluster. Chant said contact tracers are still investigating how the health care worker is linked to the Avalon cluster.
If you have symptoms get tested
The premier urged people across NSW to get tested no matter how mild symptoms may be, saying that robust testing was the best defence in identifying community transmission.
“What we’re most concerned about is obviously, if we have the high rates of testing, the longer we get, it gives us a little bit more assurance that there weren’t chains of transmission established by the missing link,” she said.
“And that is why we need the community across New South Wales to come forward for testing. This is our best insurance policy that we’re not missing undetected transmission, and we will also be watching closely the sewage surveillance, which is also our other early warning indicator.”
Businesses to adopt Service NSW QR code by new year
The accuracy of data provided by QR code apps was also called into question by the premier. Berejiklian suggests that information provided by the Service NSW QR code was the most reliable and that from January 2021 hospitality venues would all be required to adopt the Service NSW QR code.
“Our health team is outstanding we need to make their job easier – it’s time to comply and make sure QR codes and are in place, but we remain unsatisfied with the level of compliance for people who aren’t using the Service NSW QR code,” said Berejiklian.
“So by January 1 we want all hairdressers, all hospitality venues, to be using the service NSW App and the Service NSW QR system,” she said.
“The week after that all businesses and organisations using the Service NSW App,” Berejiklian concluded.
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