NSW is not out of the woods yet, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned, as she condemned the “brazen” acts of a group who broke lockdown to go to a wedding reception.
Twelve people have been fined over the Pyrmont event on Sunday after police discovered a number of guests and possibly the bride and groom were from the northern beaches – the epicentre of Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak.
“All of us are shaking our heads, absolutely aghast that that has occurred,” Ms Berejiklian said on Tuesday.
“Please know that if you do the wrong thing, you will get caught, especially when it is so brazen.”
People from the northern beaches are not currently permitted to leave their local area under strict rules to stop the spread of the virus.
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said on Tuesday more fines would be issued over the reception in Sydney’s inner city.
“The bride and groom were involved in it,” he said, adding that it’s believed they were also from the northern beaches.
Police Minister David Elliott described the breach as a “bastard act”.
Meanwhile, there are worrying signs the virus has jumped containment lines.
Three cases have popped up in Wollongong on the south coast, and Sydney’s in inner west and north that don’t have immediate links to the growing cluster on Sydney’s northern beaches.
“We don’t want people to think we’re out of the woods, far from it,” Ms Berejiklian said.
The mystery cases are under urgent investigation, and come on top of three new infections confirmed in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday.
Those cases are people already in isolation and linked to the cluster, which now stands at 129 cases. The cases were identified from 16,329 tests.
Ms Berejiklian pleaded with residents across the state to get tested in higher numbers.
The new cases come as Sydney approaches New Year’s Eve when NSW Police will be out in force to ensure people in Greater Sydney stick to the outdoor gathering limit of 50.
The premier asked Sydneysiders to demonstrate “personal responsibility” and stay COVID-safe on New Year’s Eve.
Sydneysiders have been mostly banned from watching the famous New Year’s Eve fireworks from the harbour after the foreshores were shut for the first time.
The state government is telling people to stay at home and watch the shortened seven-minute show at midnight to usher in 2021 on television.
The federal government has also warned it could punish backpacker or expatriates who breach of public health orders with deportation.
Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said the government was looking at deporting some of those who attended a large party at Bronte Beach on Christmas Day.
“Under the Migration Act if someone is threatening public safety or health their visa can be cancelled or revoked,” he warned.
New checkpoint to ease border congestion
A fourth checkpoint designed to ease congestion on Queensland’s border with NSW will open for New Year’s Eve as police work to balance resources across a number of COVID operations.
Queensland Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said the checkpoint would open at 7am on December 31 to help ease congestion around Coolangatta and Tweed Heads.
Almost 70 extra officers and SES personnel have been called on to assist at the border and Chief Supt Wheeler said police also had responsibility at airports and hotel quarantine sites.
“That’s what I mean when I say producing police officers instantly to stand a checkpoint up isn’t as easy as that, it’s complex and it’s a balancing act,” he said.
“I’d say to people who are sitting in long lines of traffic from time to time, if you’re wondering why we don’t have an additional couple of police to stand up another checkpoint or to help you get through quicker, it’s because we have to deal with people and investigative people who are putting our community at risk, who are lying deliberately on their border declaration passes.”
Queensland has recorded a further two cases of, which were both acquired overseas and reported from hotel quarantine.
Victoria has no new coronavirus cases as the state marks 60 days without any community transmission.
There are seven active cases as of Tuesday morning – six returning travellers in hotel quarantine and a teenage girl who is isolating at home after contracting the virus in NSW.
Victoria had 6899 tests in the previous 24 hours, while its NSW border remains closed.