A huge overhaul to Sydney’s coronavirus restrictions could see the city’s south-west plunged into an even harder lockdown, while areas with few new cases may see rules relaxed.
The plan threatens to tear the city apart, after mask-less walkers were seen enjoying winter sunshine on the eastern beaches while those in the Covid-ravaged south-west are under police watch.
Some locals in the hotspot areas, Fairfield, Liverpool and Canterbury-Bankstown, have been sensationally accused by government sources of lying about their whereabouts when called by contact tracers and doing cash-in-hand jobs.
Of the 124 new cases on Thursday, 54 lived in the south-west while 40 were from western Sydney alongside 18 from the city and eight from the south-east.
The huge discrepancy in local infections has lead some officials to consider placing the three south-west LGAs into a heightened lockdown, sources say, which could see more police patrols or the tightening of travel rules.
A divided Sydney could see stricter lockdown imposed on the south-west (pictured, right in Bankstown) while other parts of the city enjoy exercise at the beach (left in Bondi)
A change to restrictions being considered by officials could see the city’s south-west plunged into an even harder lockdown, while areas with few new cases could see rules relaxed
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday that the number of new infections over the weekend will determine how restrictions in the city will change after July 30, when they’re currently set to end.
Discussions about how restrictions may be changed to further lock down the south-west and ease pressure on areas with few cases will begin next week, The Australian reported.
Areas pegged for eased restrictions in the overhaul include the Northern Beaches, Shellharbour and the Central Coast, which have both seen too few case numbers to warrant stay-home orders.
Shellharbour especially has not had a single case since June, but residents still face the same stay-home orders as people in the heart of Sydney.
Kiama MP Gareth Ward urged NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Thursday to rethink restrictions for the south coast.
‘It is totally unreasonable to keep the people of the Shellharbour LGA in lockdown. If circumstances change, restrictions could be reconsidered,’ Mr Ward wrote.
Sydney faces becoming a tale of two cities with officials considering tighter restrictions in the south-west (pictured, women in Bondi on the Eastern Beaches enjoy a sunny Thursday walk)
Meanwhile in the south-west, police have been patrolling the streets to ensure compliance with coronavirus rules (pictured, police speak to anti-lockdown protestors in Bankstown)
CASE NUMBERS IN THE SOUTH-WEST:
Almost half the new figures from Thursday were recorded in south-west Sydney, specifically:
Cumberland LGA: 23 cases
But health officials are said to be deeply concerned that the daily infection rates aren’t going down in the south-west of the city, and that the number of infected people out in the community is steadily on the rise.
As it stands, people in Greater Sydney are not allowed to leave their homes except to shop for groceries, go to work, meet up with one other person outside, see the GP or care for someone.
Residents have already endured almost four weeks of what was supposed to be a one week lockdown, but the city has continued to record high case numbers every day.
Despite rules dictating outdoor exercise can be done with one other person, far larger crowds have been seen hanging out in Sydney’s east – where the outbreak first began on June 16 with an infected airport driver from Bondi.
While those in the city’s eastern suburbs were seen out enjoying the beach on a sun-drenched Thursday, the situation in the south-west is dire.
People flocking to Bronte Beach on Thursday morning to soak up the sun for their daily exercise (pictured)
Three women wearing face masks stop in the street in Lakemba on Thursday (pictured) with the south-western regions suffering a spike in cases
A large crowd of people gathered to enjoy the morning sun in Bronte on Thursday (pictured). The city recorded 124 new Covid cases just hours later
Residents of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool are already banned from leaving their LGAs entirely unless they are authorised workers.
Even then, they have to present regular Covid test results, which has seen queues spiral for hours.
The region is at the centre of the current outbreak and has already been subject to tougher restrictions than the rest of the city due to a disproportionate number of cases recorded in those areas.
But it could face an even tighter lockdown after this weekend with allegations some people have been untruthful about their movements when speaking with contact tracers – stymieing the effort to release accurate exposure sites, resulting in high case numbers.
Others have allegedly been working for cash or hiding information from authorities, sources claimed.
Eastern suburbs locals walking with coffees and chatting with friends (pictured on Thursday), while the city’s south-western suburbs face harsher restrictions
Two women walking down Haldon Street in Lakemba, in Sydney’s south-west (pictured on Thursday). The region has become the epicentre of the latest outbreak
FIND THE LATEST EXPOSURE SITES NEAR YOU
At a press conference on Thursday, NSW Executive Director Health Protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty called for higher levels of testing in south-west and western Sydney.
Areas singled out for a testing drive were Toongabbie, Mount Druitt, Rooty Hill, Fairfield, Liverpool and Bankstown as well as in high-risk areas across the city’s south, including Narwee and the Georges River and Bayside LGAs.
Fairfield continues to record the highest number of cases of any local government area – with health officials finding 30 Covid-19 infections in the region in the last day alone.
Dr McAnulty said of the new cases, 23 were found in the Cumberland LGA, 21 in Canterbury-Bankstown, 12 in Blacktown and 11 in Liverpool.
A health worker in a medical centre in Lakemba which offers Covid-19 vaccines on Thursday (pictured) amid a looming tightening of restrictions for the area
A police car is seen driving past cafes at Bronte Beach on Thursday morning (pictured) as crowds of locals enjoyed the sunshine
Meanwhile, people at Bronte Beach in the city’s east swarmed to the beach to soak up the sun, in stark contrast to the sparse and masked-up shoppers in the south-west epicentre.
Rugged up in coats and hoodies, beach dwellers could be seen standing together and chatting while holding takeaway coffees.
In her daily press conference, Ms Berejiklian warned residents to ‘assume anybody you’re in contact with has the virus’.
Crowds were seen enjoying the morning sun on Thursday on the eastern beaches of Sydney (pictured)
People gathering together at Bronte Beach in the city’s eastern suburbs on Thursday (pictured) despite rule dictating people can only exercise in groups of two
Gladys Berejiklin said Sydney’s restrictions will likely be extended beyond July 30, which was the extended cut-off date
She said many Covid-positive Sydneysiders were visiting chemists, buying groceries and performing essential work.
The 124 cases were detected from 85,185 tests to 8pm on Wednesday night, the most conducted in a single 24-hour period in the state during the entire pandemic.
The spike in cases is the highest during Sydney’s latest outbreak; the last time there were this many infections found in NSW in one day was during the first wave in April 2020
Ms Berejiklian said on Thursday Covid-19 was still spreading rapidly in the city’s west and south-west in households and workplaces, and warned Sydney’s lockdown would likely continue in some form beyond the scheduled July 30 expiry date.
A police officer stands in a cafe at Bronte Beach on July 22. The eastern suburbs was at the centre of the city’s outbreak, but most new infections are being recorded west of the city
Pictured: People shopping in Lakemba, in Sydney’s south-west. The region could be subject to harsher restrictions
‘This disease is so contagious and when you have, literally – in one industry – thousands of people moving around, that means potentially thousands of cases of transmission every day,’ she said.
‘I suspect case numbers will get worse before they get better
‘The strongest message we can give everybody at this time is please stay at home. It’s cruel how contagious this virus is. Any human contact means you can pick up or spread it.’
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the decision to close her state’s border with NSW on Thursday morning on Twitter.
The border closures will come into place from 1am on Friday morning.
Latest Covid exposure sites in NSW
Anyone who attended the following venues at the times listed is a close contact and must get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result.
Croydon Park Lebanese Bakery and International Food 125 Georges River Road. Wednesday 14 July 9:05am to 9:20am
Croydon Park BP Croydon Park 236-240 Georges River Road. Friday 16 July 4:50pm to 5:05pm
Lakemba Hamze Supermarket 124 Haldon St. Saturday 17 July 11:45am to 12:00pm
Belrose Woolworths Glenrose. Glenrose Village Shopping Centre, 56-58 Glen Street. Monday 19 July 5:55am to 6:00pm Tuesday 20 July 7.00am to 4:00pm
Green Valley Polla’s Market 193 Wilson Road. Monday 19 July 1:00pm to 5:00pm
Parramatta Chemist Warehouse 202-208 Church Street. Monday 19 July 3:45pm to 12:00am
Smithfield: All Parts Auto, Wednesday July 14 from 8:15am – 9:15am
Campsie: Tong Li Supermarket, Thursday July from 8:45am – 7:45pm, Friday July 16 from 8:45am – 7:45am and Saturday July 17 from 8:45am – 7:45pm
Lakemba: Exim Supermarket, Monday July 19 from 8:50pm – 9:10pm
Lakemba: Chemist Warehouse, Saturday July 17 from 4:20pm – 4:40pm and Monday July 19 from 3:10pm – 3:25pm
Lakemba: Traboulsi Bakery, Monday July 19 from 3:30pm – 3:45pm
Marrickville: Durable Kitchens Factory, Tuesday July 13 from 7:30am – 4pm, Wednesday July 14 from 9:55am – 4pm, Thursday July 15 from 8:55am – 7pm and Friday July 16 from 7:30am – 7pm
Alexandria: Mercedes Benz Sydney, Wednesday July 14 from 11:25am – 11:50am
Belrose: Woolworths Glenrose Village, Tuesday July 20 from 7am – 2:30pm and Wednesday July 21 from 7:00am – 1:30pm
Belrose: Three Beans Cafe Glenrose Village, Monday July 19 from 6:50am – 7am, Tuesday July 20 from 6:50am – 7am and Wednesday July 21 from 6:50am – 7am
Anyone who attended the following venues at the times listed is a casual contact who must immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received.
Wetherill Park Woolworths 561-583 Polding Street. Monday 12 July 8:30pm to 5:45pm
Harris Park Shri Refreshment Bar 53C Wigram Street. Wednesday 14 July 6:00pm to 6:15pm
Bonnyrigg Big W 100 Bonnyrigg Avenue. Saturday 17 July 1:35pm to 3:45pm
Roselands Aldi Roselands Shopping Centre, 14 Roselands Avenue. Saturday 17 July 10:00am to 11:00am
Burwood Coles Westfield Burwood, 100 Burwood Road. Monday 19 July 11:45am to 12:20pm
Belrose Glenrose Village Shopping Centre 56-58 Glen Street. Tuesday 20 July 6:50am to 1:30pm. Wednesday 21 July 6:50am to 2:30pm
Bondi Junction: Commonwealth Bank, Thursday July 15 from 1:45pm – 2:15pm
Eastern Creek: Choice Pharmacy, Tuesday July 13 from 1:45pm – 2:00pm
Hinchinbrook: Green Valley Woolworths, Thursday July 15 from 6:45pm – 7:15pm
Green Valley: Valley Fresh, Saturday July 17 from 2:45pm – 3:20pm
Haymarket: Tong Li Supermarket, Monday July 18 from 6:00pm – 7:00pm
Haymarket: Paddy’s Market, Wednesday July 14 from 5:00pm – 6:00pm and Thursday July 15 (all day)
Haymarket: Beijing Tong Ren Tang, Friday July 16 from 3:30pm – 4:00pm
Roselands: Pentonzi, Saturday July 17 from 11:00am – 11:10am
Parramatta: Shell Coles Express, Wednesday July 14 from 4:30pm – 5:00pm
Concerns of heightened lockdown restrictions in some areas come as 30 new venues were added to Sydney’s spiralling Covid exposure site list late on Thursday night.
The new list includes a range of venues in Lakemba, Smithfield and Campsie in the city’s south-west – the new epicentres of the city’s latest outbreak.
Two venues in Croydon, in the city’s inner-west, have been declared as high-risk sites, the Lebanese Bakery and International Food store and a BP petrol station.
A public health warning has also been issued for the Hamze Supermarket in the Covid-ravaged suburb of Lakemba in the city’s south-west.
The catchment area services around 19,000 people in Byron Bay, Wategos, Suffolk Park, Sunrise and Broken Head putting thousands of residents on high alert
Fragment of coronavirus have also been found in sewage in Byron Bay, an area with no known Covid cases and more than 700km from Sydney.
The worrying alert for 19,000 residents of the area sparks fears an infected Sydneysider may have slipped into the popular holiday town undetected.
NSW Health issued the alert on Thursday evening after the particles were discovered at the sewage treatment plant in the coastal town.
The catchment area services nearly 20,000 people in Byron Bay, Wategos, Suffolk Park, Sunrise and Broken Head.
There are currently no known cases of Covid-19 in these areas with the detection of the unchecked virus fragments coming of ‘great concern’ to health authorities.
Residents have been asked to remain especially vigilant for symptoms, and if they appear to immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received.
Chemist Warehouse in Parramatta was exposed to the virus on July 19 from 3:45pm to 12:00am, with attending shoppers asked to get tested and isolate until a negative result