Millions of Australians will remain locked down in New South Wales until at least August 28 after the state reported another death and 177 locally acquired cases on Wednesday.
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there were too many infectious people in the community to lift the lockdown and further restrictions were needed in some areas to contain the outbreak.
“Please know that I am as upset and frustrated as all of you that we weren’t able to get the case numbers where we would have liked to at this point in time but that’s the reality,” the Premier said.
The latest round of infections takes the total number of deaths and cases linked to the current outbreak to 11 and 2574 respectively.
Here are the major rule changes coming into effect.
1. Shopping restricted
From 12.01am on Thursday, all residents living in areas currently under lockdown must limit essential shopping to outlets within 10 kilometres of their home.
2. Authorised Workers Order expanded
The local government areas of Paramatta, Campbelltown and Georges River will join the list of LGAs subjected to the Authorised Workers Order from 12.01am on Thursday.
This means only authorised workers will be allowed to leave the following LGAs for work:
- Georges River
Authorised workers in these areas must also complete regular COVID-19 testing.
In Canterbury-Bankstown, all authorised workers must get a COVID-19 test every three days regardless of whether they have systems.
In the seven other high LGAs, only health and aged-care workers will be required to get a test every three days, while all other authorised workers will need to get a test on a weekly basis.
3. Construction partially resumes
Outside the hardest-hit LGAs, tradies will be allowed to resume construction work on non-occupied sites from 12.01am on Saturday.
This includes home renovations in situations where the home owner can keep a safe distance from the worksite and maintain no contact with tradies.
But the industry will be subject to a cap of one worker for every four square metres.
“Put in place segregation [so] there is no mix between tradies and the household and we want to make that absolutely clear,” said deputy premier John Barilaro.
4. Single household bubble
From 12.01am on Saturday, Sydneysiders who live alone will be able to form a ‘single bubble’ with one other person.
Outside the eight hardest-hit areas, there will be no limit on the distance that bubble buddies can travel to provide compassionate support.
But if you don’t live in one of the high-risk LGAs, your visitor cannot be from one of those areas.
“And it has to be the same person. You can’t have a different person every day,” Ms Berejiklian said.
5. Year 12 vaccine program
Year 12 students will resume face-to-face learning on August 16, while all other students living in areas currently under lockdown will continue remote learning for another four weeks.
Year 12 students from the high-risk LGAs will also be offered the Pfizer vaccine in an attempt to contain the outbreak, with up to 40,000 doses to be redirected from regional NSW.
And a rapid antigen testing program is in the works for year 12 students across the state.
NSW health said people can check to see if they are eligible to receive a vaccine, and if eligible, book an appointment at a clinic, via the Australian government’s eligibility checker.
6. Extra financial support
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said it was a “difficult day” for workers and businesses in the state but more support was now available.
Access to the joint NSW and Commonwealth government JobSaver program will be expanded, with eligibility relaxed to include businesses with annual turnover of between $75,000 and $250 million – the upper threshold was previously $50 million – provided they experienced a decline in revenue of at least 30 per cent.
The maximum weekly payment under that program has also increased from $10,000 to $100,000 – but businesses must keep the same number of staff on the books.
Non-employing businesses (i.e. sole traders) will remain eligible for a maximum weekly payment of $1000.
In other changes, the maximum amounts available under the COVID-19 Disaster Payment will increase from $600 to $750 a week for people who have lost more than 20 hours a week as a result of the lockdown, and from $375 to $450 for people who have lost more than eight hours.
And people receiving welfare payments like JobSeeker will be able to apply for a new weekly supplement worth $200.
You can find out more here.