Residents of NSW’s Yass local government area will be sent back into a snap lockdown within hours after the discovery of a COVID case in the town on Monday.
NSW Health said the snap lockdown order, issued on Monday afternoon, would apply for a fortnight from 12.01am Tuesday.
The southern tablelands region emerged from lockdown only on Saturday, but now residents face at least another two weeks under stay-at-home orders. They will be allowed to leave home only:
- To shop for food or other essential goods and services;
- For medical care or compassionate needs, including COVID vaccinations;
- For the fully vaccinated only – to attend an outdoor gathering of up to five people for exercise or outdoor recreation, so long as all those at the gathering aged 16 years or over are fully vaccinated;
- Go to work or tertiary education that cannot be done at home;
- To attend a wedding or a funeral. A maximum of 11 people – including the couple, witnesses, guests and celebrants – can attend a wedding service. A maximum of 10 people can attend a funeral.
NSW Health said urgent contact tracing and investigations were underway after the positive case emerged. It followed detection of the virus in Yass’s wastewater.
The snap lockdown order came after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian earlier warned unvaccinated residents they might miss out when millions of others are again granted “freedoms” within weeks.
NSW had another 1257 local virus cases on Monday – the Yass case will be officially included in Tuesday’s numbers. There were also seven more fatalities – three men their 80s, two in their 90s, and two women in their 60s and 90s – taking NSW’s toll from the current outbreak to 184.
But vaccinated NSW households can now go on picnics and enjoy more outdoor exercise, as virus rules are tweaked again.
By Monday, 78.5 per cent of NSW residents aged 16 and older had had one vaccine dose, while 46.2 per cent were fully vaccinated.
Ms Berejiklian said her government was yet to decide what freedoms would become available once 80 per cent of eligible people had had both doses.
She said getting a COVID shot was an individual choice – but warned those who opted out “not to expect to do everything that vaccinated people do even when we hit 80 per cent”.
“I don’t want people to think they can sit back, let everybody else do the hard work and then turn up when it’s 80 per cent and get everything else that vaccinated people are. That’s not the right message,” she said.
“I want to say it clearly – that if you’re not vaccinated, you will not have the freedom or the freedoms that vaccinated people have, even when we get to 80 per cent double dose.”
Her comments were in contrast to her Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, who earlier told Sydney radio that unvaccinated people would receive similar freedoms to the fully-vaccinated.
“The 70 per cent road map gives us an opportunity to open up the economy and lift restrictions,” he told 2GB.
“If they don’t want to do it that’s fine, you might have to wait another three to four weeks after that when we get to 80 per cent and above.
“This is about giving the ones that have gone and got vaccinated the opportunity to have a level of freedom … we’ve got to reboot the economy and this is the safest way. I apologise for that but it will only be a three to four weeks of short inconvenience.”
Ms Berejiklian said overall vaccination rates in NSW continued to climb but there had been a “slight slowdown” recently. She warned against complacency.
“Whilst people start enjoying some things they couldn’t enjoy last week, I urge the community, please do not get complacent, do not let your guard down,” she said.
NSW has been warned of a “challenging” two months ahead with peaks expected in its virus cases and hospitalisations. There are 1189 COVID-19 patients in NSW hospitals, with 222 in intensive care beds and 94 on ventilators.
Also on Monday, Ms Berejiklian rebuffed suggestions she delayed in locking down greater Sydney after learning a western Sydney COVID-19 “super-spreader” party had not been contained.
In a response on Friday to questions on notice to a parliamentary inquiry, NSW Health said it had learned on June 24 that some attendees of a West Hoxton birthday party – at which dozens caught COVID-19 – had been missed by contact tracers.
The citywide lockdown began on June 26, one day after Sydney’s central and eastern suburbs were locked down.
The response provided by NSW Health does not specify when the department shared its updated knowledge of the West Hoxton party with the government, or what occurred between June 24 and the citywide lockdown on June 26.
Ms Berejiklian denied she received advice to lock down Sydney sooner than June 26.
“It was within hours of getting advice,” she said.
“I could have waited an extra hour or extra day but I chose to come back on the same day and hold another press conference because as soon as we got upstairs, Dr [Kerry] Chant provided us with additional advice and we reacted within hours.
“I look back now and think we did remarkably well to suppress the virus with a largely unvaccinated population … I’m hopeful the higher vaccination rates will start kicking in.”