News Coronavirus NSW virus rules tighten amid alarming spike in Bondi cluster

NSW virus rules tighten amid alarming spike in Bondi cluster

nsw virus westfield bondi
NSW Health authorities are still most concerned about the virus' spread between visitors to Westfield Bondi. Photo: Getty
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Sydney’s mask rules have been extended and broadened for at least another week after a worrying spike in community virus cases, with 10 more infections on Tuesday.

NSW Health confirmed five locally acquired cases in the 24 hours to 8pm Monday, including two flagged earlier.

There are also a further seven new infections that came in after the 8pm cut-off. They will officially be part of Wednesday’s numbers.

The latest cases take the outbreak that began with a Bondi airport driver last week to 21 infections. They include people from Sydney’s northern and eastern suburbs, and a case in the Illawarra.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said all of the latest cases except one – a child from St Charles’ Waverley in Sydney’s eastern suburbs – had been in isolation during their infectious period.

“There is no doubt that an increased level of concern, given additional numbers of cases, but … given how absolutely contagious the virus is, we expected that household contacts already in isolation were likely to get the virus,” she said.

Ms Berejiklian announced an immediate extension of Sydney’s mandatory mask requirements until at least next Wednesday. The rules will also be expanded to apply across greater Sydney.

There will also be a crackdown on QR code compliance, with authorities flagging some businesses had not been following the rules. QR check-ins will also become mandatory in all shops – and for large shopping centres.

“Everybody in Sydney has to now follow that compulsory mask wearing in venues, including public transport – not just seven local government areas,” she said.

“That means hospitality workers, teleworkers and all of us that go shopping, fall into this.”

Ms Berejiklian said she felt the response was “proportionate” to the situation in Sydney.

“This is an important measure for us and we want to get on top of this,” she said.

But she stopped short of flagging even tighter measures, including a lockdown.

“While we do have this current outbreak, we have managed to keep everything open and that is our intention. If we want to do this for the duration of the pandemic, we’re going to have to adjust,” she said.

bondi cluster 21 cases
Testing has been stepped up across Sydney with the emergence of the latest outbreak.

Greatest concern for the virus’ spread remains centred on Bondi Junction Westfield. Everyone who shopped there – or even visited the car park – from June 12-18 is urged to be tested for the virus.

Chief health officer Kerry Chant said one of the most concerning infections is in a woman in her 20s who works at the shopping centre.

“We believe she was exposed again, probably through fleeting contact with one of the infectious people as they moved around Bondi Junction,” she said.

“We are casting the net very wide because we want to pick up any of these inadvertent transmissions.”

The other concerning case is the student at St Charles’, whose infection is yet to be traced.

NSW Health was working with the school on Tuesday morning to put together a plan to send all children home, and for broader testing. Dr Chant urged parents to remain calm.

“We want to find out how this child was exposed and establish that because cases where we don’t understand the acquisition means we have missed the case … so we are looking for an intermediate source,” she said.

A total of 28,645 tests were completed in 24 hours to 8pm Monday.