NSW residents have been urged to stay away from a Black Lives Matter rally which was planned for Sydney on Tuesday as the state’s COVID-19 outbreak continues to grow.
The NSW Supreme Court blocked the protest on Sunday, amid concerns about COVID-19 community transmission.
But organisers were in the Court of Appeal on Monday seeking to have that decision overturned.
On Monday afternoon, the court rejected a challenge by the organisers which was primarily based on an argument that Justice Mark Ierace did not have the authority to prohibit the rally.
Chief Justice Tom Bathurst, sitting with Justices Andrew Bell and Robert Macfarlan, made no order as to legal costs after noting the challenge was a matter of public importance involving complex legislation.
The ruling means the rally remains an unauthorised event.
Organisers have said they intend to go ahead with the march, regardless of the court ruling, and that social distancing can be managed.
NSW Health reported 17 new COVID-19 cases on Monday (diagnosed in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday), with more venues linked to outbreaks bubbling across the state.
Chief medical officer Kerry Chant said the state’s hospitals were treating 101 people for COVID-19. Five people are in intensive care.
“This is a critical time over the next three to four weeks and if we can all play our part in changing behaviours and reducing interactions it will help us control the spread of COVID-19,” she said.
“This is an anxious time. I think this is a critical time where we need the community to modify their behaviours.”
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW was at a critical point in its coronavirus outbreak, and urged the public to remain vigilant.
“NSW, given the circumstances, is holding the line and doing OK but we are still on high alert,” she said on Monday.
She implored people not take part in the BLM rally.
“Conducting a protest at this time is highly irresponsible, we’re in a pandemic, this is not usual circumstances,” she said.
It’s a view backed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who said attending the march would be illegal.
“I would describe it as breaking the law,” he said.
“We are all subject to the law. I would encourage everybody to follow the law.”
Elsewhere, NSW now has nine confirmed COVID infections linked to a funeral service cluster in Sydney’s south-west.
There are also two more linked to the Thai Rock restaurant at Potts Point, one in a staff member. No links have yet been identified between the Potts Point restaurant and a cluster at another Thai Rock in Wetherill Park, which has 70 confirmed cases.
NSW Health said anyone who was at the Potts Point restaurant for more than two hours from July 15-July 25 should get tested and self-isolate for 14 days since they were last there, regardless of symptoms.
In other cases reported on Monday, a couple who tested positive for COVID-19 following the Bankstown funeral gathering attended Tan Viet Noodle House in Cabramatta, which is also known as Crispy Chicken Noodle House, between 1- 2pm on July 22. They were also at An Restaurant in Bankstown between 9-11am on July 23.
Anyone who attended these venues is asked to watch for symptoms and get tested if symptoms appear.
A case linked to the funeral cluster is a student at Georges River Grammar School in Georges Hall in Sydney’s south-west.
The school is closed for cleaning and close contacts are being directed to self-isolate.
Dr Chant also urged anyone in the Harris Park and Middleton Grange areas to monitor for symptoms and get tested even if they had the mildest of symptoms.