Tough New Covid Restrictions for Greater Sydney

by Sonia Hickey
shop closed covid

Just a month ago, the New South Wales Premier told a Liberal Party Council meeting in Canberra that the state would never go into lockdown again.

Touting the state as the nation’s leader in containing outbreaks, and backed by PM Scott Morrison’s praise of New South Wales as the “gold standard,” Ms Berejiklian told the meeting: ‘We’ve demonstrated in NSW that there’s an alternate way to heavy-handed lockdowns.”

In the speech, which is still available on Facebook, Ms Berejiklian pat herself and her colleagues on the back, crediting ‘good government’ as a key reason for the state having to endure just one lockdown in 2020.

“In NSW we didn’t make up lists about who was an ‘essential worker’ – our attitude was if you have a job and you’re working, you’re essential. Go ahead and do it”, the Premier assured her audience.

These words could now haunt the Premier as businesses around the state go broke, people lose their jobs by the thousands, or have their hours cut. While the Government has announced a new package of financial assistance which should start to flow at the end of this month, for many small operators, which make up the majority of businesses, it’s too late.

So many are counting the costs of yet another lockdown, the parameters of which just got tighter. An airport limo driver infected with the highly contagious Delta strain has sparked the biggest Covid crisis  in New South Wales since the Ruby Princess debacle last year .

With case numbers still rising, authorities have responded with tough new restrictions enforceable as at 11.59pm Saturday 17 July 2021.

New Restrictions

People who live in the local government areas (LGAs) of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool will not be allowed to leave those regions for work.

The only people exempt from the new stay-at-home orders are in those areas are emergency services and health workers. People working in aged-care or the disability sector are considered health workers. Police will be vigilantly checking why people are not at home.

Those people permitted to leave the LGAs for work under the strict new rules must be tested for COVID-19 every three days, even if they don’t have symptoms.

Businesses which ask employees to come into the office when this is not essential could face a $10,000 on-the-spot fine.

Changes for areas surrounding Sydney

There are several other major changes being made to the lockdown affecting Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour.

Many non-essential retail businesses will be forced to close, although they will still be able to operate “click and collect”, takeaway and delivery services.

Essential businesses are those which:

  • Supermarkets and grocery stores (including bottle shops, butchers, bakeries and fishmongers)
  • Stores that predominantly sell health, medical, maternity and infant supplies
  • Pharmacies and chemists
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Hardware stores
  • Agricultural stores
  • Pet supplies
  • Post officers and newsagents
  • Office supplies

Under the current guidelines, if you’re planning to go to a business that is open, you must check-in using the Service NSW smartphone app. All premises must also offer visitors another way to ‘check-in’ if they don’t have a smartphone, and wear a face mask.

From 12:01am Monday, July 19, all construction will be paused – this includes government work on roads and infrastructure. Non-urgent maintenance, including cleaning services and repair work on residential premises will be paused. You can get a tradie in if you have an emergency.

Residents in the Greater Sydney Region including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour can only leave home for the following reasons:

  • Shopping for food or other essential goods and services – one person, per household, per day may leave home to shop.
  • Medical care or compassionate needs (including to get a COVID-19 vaccine).
  • Exercise outdoors only.
  • Essential work, or education, where you cannot work or study from home
  • You can only gather outside in groups of two (or, with members of your household) and it must be for exercise.
  • You cannot carpool, unless the passengers in the car are family members.
  • If you’re exercising, you can only do so within 10km of your home.
  • You must wear a face mask when indoors (unless you’re at home), or when you can’t socially distance outdoors.

In regional New South Wales, the current restrictions are:

  • People must not travel t and from the areas considered ‘Greater Sydney and Surrounds” (as mentioned above.
  • Only 5 people are allowed to visit a home at any one time.
  • The one-person-per-four-square-metres rule determines capacity at venues.
  • Singing and dancing are not permitted.
  • Face masks must be worn for exercise, and at all public indoor venues, on public transport and in the outdoors when social distancing is not possible.
  • Check-in is required at all venues you visit.

All restrictions in NSW are continually under review and are due to end at midnight on 30 July, but authorities have already warned they may be extended beyond that date.

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Author

Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice, and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team.

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