NSW people could be slapped with $5000 on-the-spot fines and now have tighter restrictions on their movements as police and military escalate enforcement as part of ‘Operation Stay at Home’.
On the worst day of NSW’s Delta crisis on Saturday, the rest of the state joined the lockdown from 5pm as cases soared to a record 466, with four deaths.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced the expanded lockdown on Twitter, hours after the premier’s daily press conference, amid rising concern over case numbers in regional areas and virus fragments found in sewage systems in places with no known cases.
“It’s to make sure that we don’t become overwhelmed. A lot of our small regional communities don’t have an ICU unit so we would be transporting people from little town to some of the major centres,” Mr Barilaro told ABC News.
Of particular concern was Dubbo where cases swelled overnight Friday and Saturday morning, with 42 active cases now across the Western NSW Local Health District.
While Greater Sydney has endured lockdown for nearly seven weeks, Mr Barilaro said he hoped the newly-locked down regional communities could be out in a week if they did the right thing.
Earlier before the lockdown announcement, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Saturday had been the “most concerning day”.
“This is literally a war, and we know it has been a war for some time but never to this extent,” she said at the 11am press conference.
“I know we will get through these difficult times; we always do, and I never give up hope that our citizens will enjoy those freedoms that we had before the outbreak as soon as we can.”
Police have warned they will be out in full force in affected Local Government Areas, with officers able to impose larger fines of $5000 for breaching public health orders.
One-the-spot fines which Commissioner Mick Fuller said were “the biggest I’ve ever seen” have been increased as follows:
- $5,000 fine for breaching home quarantine
- $5,000 fine for lying on a permit
- $5,000 fine for lying to a contact tracer
- $3,000 fine for breaching the two person exercise rule
- $3,000 fine for breaching rules around going into regional NSW
A further 500 Australian Defence Force troops, in addition to the 300 already deployed, will assist with compliance checks and patrols in NSW while police ramp up operations across the state.
Police Minister David Elliott said the police commissioner requested the ADF reinforcements along with the boost to health orders.
“We’ve had to tighten the current public health orders because of the minority who exploited them,” he said in a statement on Saturday.
Defence personnel have also been assigned in Victoria to assist authorities with enforcement.
Victoria posted 21 fresh infections, Queensland six, and the ACT one.
The new case takes the total in the ACT’s outbreak to seven, with the territory in lockdown until at least Thursday.
⚠️PUBLIC HEALTH ALERT – NEW VENUES OF CONCERN⚠️
NSW Health has been notified of new venues of concern associated with confirmed cases of COVID 19, as well as sewage detections. pic.twitter.com/Je3rD6VA7y
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) August 14, 2021
Restrictions will also be tightened in Greater Sydney from next week with exercise restricted from ten kilometres to five from the home.
“Exercise means exercise, many people know that but unfortunately some people were trying to get around the rules imposed,” Ms Berejiklian said.
People in Greater Sydney will also need a permit to travel to regional NSW, and single people will need to register their “singles buddies”.
In newly-locked down regional areas people must only leave their residence for an essential reason, with all schooling to be conducted from home.
Everyone must carry masks at all times, no visitors are allowed in the home unless for carers’ responsibilities or for compassionate reasons, and those in a relationship.
The biggest increases in case numbers in western Sydney were in Blacktown, Doonside, Mount Druitt, Marylands, Guildford and Auburn.
Of the new local cases, 121 are linked to known outbreaks and 345 are under investigation, while 87 people were in the community for all or part of the time they were infectious.
Health authorities are urging Victorians not to delay getting tested, as concern grows about the number of cases in the community while infectious.
The state recorded 21 new locally acquired cases on Saturday, with 10 of those active in the community while infectious, as Melbourne’s lockdown continues.
Eight mystery cases are yet to be linked from the City of Melbourne, Glenroy, Melton South, Middle Park, Brunswick West and Wyndham Vale, as well as cases in Newport and West Footscray that were identified earlier this month.
“We are very concerned about what we’re seeing across Melbourne,” Department of Health deputy secretary Kate Matson said on Saturday.
“We won’t have unlinked cases if people come forward to get testing as soon as they possibly can, at the earliest sign of symptoms.”
There are now more than 455 exposure sites spread across multiple Melbourne suburbs, including the Royal Melbourne Women’s Hospital and Chadstone Shopping Centre.
Of Saturday’s new infections, 15 were linked to a growing cluster in Glenroy, which has been driven by mystery cases in multiple households.
There are now 22 cases linked directly to Glenroy West Primary School, with 345 close contacts isolating.
The state conducted 33,675 tests on Friday, but Health Minister Martin Foley said he would prefer this number be above 40,000 tests per day.
“If you have symptoms, you need to go and get tested. If someone in your family has symptoms, encourage them to get tested. Because there is every chance if you don’t get tested and you pass this virus on to someone else, then they will pass it on to more people,” he said.
Mr Foley announced the state will launch a series of new drive-in vaccination centres across Melbourne, after administering a record 29,490 vaccine doses on Friday.
For exposure sites visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/exposure-sites