News Coronavirus ‘Not out of the woods’: NSW Premier’s warning amid COVID optimism

‘Not out of the woods’: NSW Premier’s warning amid COVID optimism

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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned businesses that police and regulators will “throw the book” at them if they breach state coronavirus restrictions, after the state logged another 16 cases overnight.

Despite early signs its coronavirus outbreaks are coming under control, Ms Berejiklian said the upcoming fortnight will be “the most critical” to prevent a larger outbreak similar to that seen in Victoria.

NSW confirmed 16 new coronavirus infections for Wednesday – 15 from known clusters and one from a person in compulsory hotel quarantine.

“The fact that it is not a new stream or outbreak is reassuring at one level, but I still want to state that the state is on high alert,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Whether or not you live in a community which has had cases or not, we want everybody to think seriously about what they are doing over the weekend – to make sure you avoid crowds, make sure you avoid putting yourself in a situation that will compromise your health or those of others.

Ms Berejiklian on Wednesday said authorities would clamp down on businesses that do not follow new restrictions – including mandatory COVID-safe patron registrations, reduced caps on group bookings and hygiene marshals for venues – that will be enforced from Friday.

“Any business that doesn’t do the right thing, will have the book thrown at them,” she told reporters.

“If we don’t find them ourselves, we expect members of the community to let us know or staff members for that matter.”

Ms Berejiklian said the next few weeks were the most critical for the state since the lockdowns in March and April, in the early days of the COVID outbreak.

“We are not out of the woods by any stretch, quite the opposite,” she said.

Earlier, NSW Health confirmed an infection in a man in his 60s in the Port Stephens area. He was infected by a visitor from Sydney.

It urged anyone who visited the Salamander Bay Shopping Centre on July 15 to watch for COVID-19 symptoms.

The Sydney contact also visited the Windsor Castle Hotel in East Maitland between 6-8pm on July 13, NSW Health said.

By Wednesday, the Crossroads Hotel cluster had grown to 53 cases and there were 37 associated with the outbreak at the Thai Rock restaurant in Wetherill Park.

There are eight cases associated with the Bateman’s Bay Soldiers Club. NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said that cluster had not grown since Tuesday.

“Investigations are continuing, as we haven’t identified the source of that infection in that circumstance, but I would like to thank the Bateman’s Bay community for turning out in high numbers,” she said.

“That action of that community gives many good assurances that we are not missing any undetected community transmission.”

Club Malua, within 15 kilometres of the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club, has also closed for cleaning on Wednesday after NSW Health confirmed a positive case of coronavirus.

“We have been advised that Club Malua has a single positive case who attended the site on the 7th, 8th and 12th July,” the club wrote on its Facebook page.

NSW authorities are still urging anyone who has been in one of the venues of concern to be tested for the virus.

  • More details of affected NSW venues, see here

“Because we have wanted to take a very precautionary approach in this response, we actually have asked people to come forward to get testing in circumstances even if they have got minimal symptoms and in some cases no symptoms,” Dr Chant said.

“Even if those tests come back negative on individuals, if you have been exposed to COVID in those settings and we have asked you to isolate, it is essential that you do so.

“It means that we have assessed you as having sufficient enough contact for you to be in a high-risk category.”

Ms Berejiklian has said she won’t yet follow Victoria’s lead in enforcing mask use in public but believes NSW residents should wear them when social distancing isn’t possible.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed wearing masks on public transport.

“I should say, that’s what the NSW government is saying, by the way,” he told Sydney radio 2GB said.

“The approach is for people to exercise that common sense, the situation in Sydney in particular and in NSW more broadly, is not the situation in Melbourne. It could not be more different.”

From midnight Wednesday, Melbourne residents face a $200 fine if they do not wear a mask or other face covering when they leave their house, under new directives from the Victorian government.

Victoria recorded 484 new infections on Wednesday, the worst tally for any state or territory since the pandemic began.