Continually shifting lockdown conditions are causing confusion and frustration in Sydney as the NSW premier revealed imposing the toughest measures yet was one of the hardest days of her career.
Residents of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool were initially told only health and emergency workers could leave their areas for work, but the list of approved occupations has now blown out to 35 including warehousing, manufacturing, transport, coffin makers and telecommunications.
After weeks of continually changing public health orders, Ms Berejiklian said she would not rule out even further “tweaks” to the latest iteration of restrictions.
“Our aim is to quash the virus but if there is anything we can do to ease things in the community, and we may be able to resume some level of activity, that will be based on health advice,” she said.
Ms Berejiklian said there could be a lag of five to six days before the strict new rules, which include a ban on construction and building maintenance until midnight July 30, have an impact on infection numbers.
The embattled premier admitted her decision to impose the harshest measures yet on the Harbour City had caused her anguish.
“I’m not embarrassed to say that in public life, yesterday was probably the most difficult day I’ve had personally,” she said on Sunday.
“They are decisions that affect the lives and livelihoods, they are decisions that affect millions of people, but my job and the job of our government is to keep people safe, to reduce transmission, reduce the risk.”
Meanwhile it’s being reported Victoria’s lockdown which was due to expire midnight Tuesday could be extended to Friday or the following Wednesday.
Victoria Premier Dan Andrews has promised an update on the lockdown on Monday but said on Sunday it was still too early to make a decision.
Mr Andrews said the state’s lockdown was having the desired effect on the outbreak as there were no new chains of transmission among the infections.
Victoria recorded 16 new locally acquired cases in the 24 hours to midnight on Saturday but authorities advised there had been an extra case added in the hour before Sunday’s press conference.
The additional infection was that of a man in Mildura who had presented at hospital with COVID-19 symptoms after attending the Carlton-Geelong AFL match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last weekend.
The locally acquired cases have all been linked to the current outbreaks and Victoria’s health department says it is engaging with six schools after they were linked to positive cases.
NSW is yet to see a significant drop in case numbers despite being under some form of lockdown in the capital for three weeks.
The state recorded 105 new virus cases on Sunday, with 27 infectious while in the community, and the death of a woman in her 90s in Sydney’s southeast.
A total of 66 of Sunday’s cases were linked to known clusters while 39 remain under investigation.
The majority of Sunday’s cases were concentrated in southwestern Sydney, with 69 found in the Fairfield local government area.
Stay-at-home orders have been tightened in Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool with locals not allowed to leave until July 30.
Tougher restrictions also apply to the entire Greater Sydney region, with only supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and few other retailers allowed to open and construction sites shut.
NSW police say they will target Sydney beaches to ensure compliance, with “high-visibility” patrols at Manly Beach, Bondi Beach and other coastal areas to ensure social distancing while people exercise.
Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon reminded Sydney residents they are now required to carry a face mask when out of their homes and to wear them when appropriate.
“In order to achieve community safety, police will not hesitate to enforce the public health order if they discover people are not complying with them,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
Officers on Saturday responded to some 860 reports from members of the community concerned about health order breaches, according to Mr Lanyon.
In all, more than 240 people were issued $200 fines.
Aussie Olympic team’s virus scare
The Australian Olympic athletics team was put into lockdown for several hours over the weekend because of a staff member’s inconclusive COVID-19 test.
But tests later on Sunday confirmed the person was not infected and the team’s Tokyo preparations in Cairns are going ahead as planned.
The bulk of the Australian athletics team is at a pre-departure training camp in Cairns, with other members of the squad in Europe and Sydney.
The first group from the Cairns athletics camp will fly to Tokyo on July 26.
Australian Olympic team chef de mission Ian Chesterman revealed on Sunday that the person had tested negative in Melbourne before travelling on Thursday to join the athletics team at its Cairns training camp.
A further test in Cairns produced the inconclusive result, prompting all members of the athletics team to be confined to their rooms for several hours until Saturday evening.
Two days ago, tennis star Alex de Minaur had to pull out of the Games after testing positive to coronavirus.
Meanwhile two South African soccer players have become the first athletes inside the Olympic village to test positive for COVID-19.
Overall South Africa has four confirmed infections after the soccer team’s video analyst and the country’s Sevens rugby coach Neil Powell also tested positive.
Six British track and field athletes and two staff members have been forced to isolate after being identified as close contacts to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 on their flight to Japan.
The British Olympic Association said the group had been flagged through Tokyo 2020’s reporting service and were now undergoing a period of self-isolation in their rooms at the team’s preparation camp. None of the six athletes were named.
In other news, organisers said another athlete had tested positive but the person was not residing in the Olympic village.
The first International Olympic Committee (IOC) member has also reported a positive test upon entering Tokyo, Ryu Seung-min of South Korea.
The IOC’s Refugee Olympic Team chef de mission Tegla Loroupe has tested positive for COVID-19 in a training camp in Qatar.
But the IOC said the Olympic refugee team would start arriving in Tokyo later on Sunday, ending speculation about their participation.
Loroupe is expected to stay behind.
Tokyo reported 1,008 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the 29th straight day that cases were higher than seven days previously.
It was also the fifth straight day with more than 1,000 cases reported.
Isolating Giants, Swans out of AFL clash
The AFL may need to pause the season after eight Sydney and Greater Western Sydney players were forced into isolation, premiership-winning coach Adam Simpson says.
Star forward Toby Greene is among eight players from the Giants and the Swans now isolating in Queensland after attending a COVID-19 exposure site.
The eight players were made unavailable for Sunday night’s game between GWS and Sydney in Queensland.
The AFL says 15 players and staff members from the two Sydney-based clubs attended the Wallabies’ Test match against France in Melbourne on Tuesday night.
They were in an area of Melbourne’s AAMI Park that has since been reclassified as a Tier 2 exposure site by the Victorian Government.
West Coast coach Simpson says the incidents highlight the tightrope the AFL is treading amid coronavirus outbreaks in Sydney and Melbourne.
“I would hate to be in the AFL’s shoes at the moment, it’s a big decision to make,” Simpson said after the Eagles’ win against Adelaide in Adelaide on Sunday night.
“They have done a pretty good job in trying to keep the season going, the clubs have handled it a lot better – I know we have – trying to pivot quite quickly on where the season is and what we need to do.
“So we’re up for it.
“But there probably will be a time where you might need to take a breath and see where things settle.”
UK PM reverses plan to skip quarantine
In the UK, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Finance Minister Rishi Sunak will both self-isolate in line with national guidance, reversing heavily criticised plans to take part in a pilot scheme that would have allowed them to continue working.
The government announced that Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak had been exposed to a person with COVID-19 and would take part in a trial scheme that allowed them to keep working instead of self-isolating for 10 days.
Mr Johnson had a meeting on Friday with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.
But less than three hours later that decision had been reversed after a flurry of criticism from voters, political opponents and business owners.
Mr Johnson will isolate at Chequers, his country residence, a spokesman said in a statement.
“He will not be taking part in the testing pilot,” the spokesman said. “He will continue to conduct meetings with ministers remotely.”