Tighter COVID-19 lockdown rules are looming for Greater Sydney as the NSW government braces for another day of stubbornly high infection numbers.
There will also be a crackdown on lockdown compliance and improve contact tracing through the public transport network.
More inspectors have been deployed across Sydney and regional areas from Saturday to ensure people are wearing masks and using QR check-in codes.
Digital and Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said check-ins at worksites, supermarkets and other retails venues were vital to ensure contact tracers could do their job.
“The Service NSW QR code is not wallpaper, it’s there to protect your staff and customers as we battle the Delta variant,” Mr Dominello said.
“The green tick on the Service NSW app is a safety stamp – it means the contact tracers can do their job keeping the community safe.”
At the same time, the government has urged people using public transport to register their credit and debit card details in the Opal Travel app or on the transport NSW website to enhance contact-tracing efforts.
“This is the first time globally that any transport department has been able to facilitate contact tracing through contactless payments, and it is another great example of how we are harnessing innovation to keep our customers safe,” Transport Minister Andrew Constance said.
“We are using technology to do all we can to ensure our customers, frontline workers and community are protected.”
NSW recorded 97 new local virus cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday, with at least 46 out in the community for part or all of their infectious period.
The outbreak has passed 1000 cases since it began on June 16.
With the number of cases in the community while infectious failing to slide despite three weeks of lockdown, the NSW government crisis cabinet met on Friday afternoon to consider harsher lockdown settings.
The outcome of that meeting will be revealed on Saturday.
The Australian Medical Association on Friday called for a harder NSW lockdown, including the closure of all non-essential retail and business activity. It also wanted stronger limits on travel distances from home.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she wouldn’t “hesitate to go harder” on restrictions, but only if they had a tangible public health benefit.
She also warned case numbers would likely surge again at the weekend.
“We need to make sure that any decisions we take will have the desired effect of reducing those numbers,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.
Three-quarters of the new recorded cases were recorded in the Fairfield local government area, which has become the epicentre of the outbreak.
From Saturday, essential workers who live in the Fairfield area but work elsewhere will be obliged to take a test every three days. There are three 24-hour testing clinics in the council area.
NSW Health has confirmed a healthcare worker at Liverpool and Campbelltown hospitals returned a positive test after a patient also tested positive. Non-urgent surgery has been postponed at both hospitals.
New exposure sites were issued for several venues on Friday evening, most notably the Woolworths Lennox Shopping Centre in Emu Plains, Service NSW at Liverpool, Coles at Hurstville and a Lakemba butcher.
IKEA at Marsden Park was also listed as an exposure site.
The NSW government said on Friday night anyone travelling to the state from Victoria will be required to follow stay-at-home rules.