Greater Sydney will remain in lockdown until at least the end of September, as NSW posted another 644 local COVID cases on Friday.
Masks will also become mandatory for everyone in NSW whenever they leave home, unless they are exercising.
The extension of the Sydney lockdown and compulsory mask-wearing are part of a dramatic tightening of virus rules across NSW announced on Friday.
They also include a 9pm-5am curfew for the 12 local government areas of most concern from Monday, and a strict one-hour limit on exercising outside the home.
“We fear for you,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said to the thousands of residents who now face even tougher coronavirus measures.
“We have imposed a lot of restrictions on you already but we do not want to see more of you end up in hospital, or lose loved ones.”
The vast majority of NSW’s virus cases are still being found in south-west Sydney.
The hotspot LGAs are: Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield, and some suburbs of Penrith.
“This is based on police information about the type of activity carried out by a small number of people,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Delta does not leave any room for error and I apologise the plea to the vast majority of people in those communities so doing the right thing but for our health and safety moving forward we need to make these difficult decisions.”
There were also four more deaths on Friday, taking the toll from the current outbreak to at least 65. They were:
- A woman in her 80s from Sydney’s inner west, who died at Royal North Shore Hospital. She was a resident at Wyoming Aged Care Facility and is the fourth death linked to this cluster;
- A man in his 70s from south-east Sydney, who died at St George Hospital, where he acquired his infection;
- A man in his 80s from western Sydney, who died at Nepean Hospital, where he acquired his infection;
- A woman in her 80s from south-west Sydney, who died at Campbelltown Hospital.
The extended lockdown will not apply to Shellharbour and the central coast. They will be included with regional NSW, whose lockdown was extended on Thursday until at least August 28.
Police will also get additional powers in a further crackdown on compliance. Any authorised workers leaving the hotspot LGAs will need a permit, as will anyone heading into those areas for work.
Commissioner Mick Fuller said the permits would come into effect later next week.
“If someone enters an LGA of concern without excuse, not only will they be fined, they will be sent home and they will have to self isolate for 14 days,” he said.
“We also have power to declare a residential apartment a risk and we can lock that apartment down until New South Wales Health has conducted the appropriate tests.”
Ms Berejiklian said the mandatory mask rules were to avoid instances of fleeting transmission and to aid police with compliance.
“I also want to stress that from Monday midnight, unless you’re exercising masks should be worn outdoors everywhere across NSW,” she said.
“Our concern is that when people are walking past a group of people or accidentally bumping into people that, that can cause that fleeting contact can cause transmission, and even when you’re exercising, you need to have the mask unless you’re doing some strenuous exercise.
“If you happen to come into contact with anybody else, the mask needs to be put on your face.”
The dramatic step-up in restrictions came after three days of case numbers in the 600s.
It also followed a record 132,000 people being vaccinated on Thursday.
More than half of the state’s eligible population has now had at least a single dose of a COVID shot. Ms Berejiklian said NSW was on target to hit six million shots by the end of August.
“Now it’s time to bunker down … and take this seriously,” she said.
“This is it. We do everything we can to reduce case numbers and we do everything we can to get those vaccination numbers up.”