Two more NSW regional areas will begin snap lockdowns on Friday, as more coronavirus infections are detected outside Sydney.
The Glen Innes Severn LGA, in New England, and Hilltops LGA, in the state’s south-west, will go into lockdown at 6pm Friday.
NSW Health confirmed the decision on Friday afternoon, giving thousands of residents less than three hours warning of the impending shutdowns.
“Stay-at-home orders will be introduced for the Hilltops and Glen Innes local government areas from 6pm today (Friday) for seven days due to an increased COVID-19 public health risk,” it said.
“These stay-at-home orders also apply to anyone who has been in the Hilltops LGA, including Young and surrounding areas, since 3 September, and the Glen Innes LGA since 13 September.
The official notice for Glen Innes Severn came about an hour after local member and NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall confirmed it in a Facebook post.
“I am very sorry and realise this was not the news many of you were wanting to hear, especially small business owners,” he said.
“I fully appreciate the stress and strain this will place on you.”
Mr Marshall said the decision was because the COVID-positive case had been active in the community for three days while infectious.
Glen Innes Severn has a population of about 9000 people.
Young, the main centre of the Hilltops LGA, has had several COVID cases this week and there have been widespread rumours in the town of an impending lockdown.
One case was included in the 1284 reported across NSW on Friday. But deputy chief health officer Marianne Gale said that person’s household contacts had since also tested positive.
Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke also confirmed her region’s lockdown.
“I have just been advised moments ago by the Health Minister and NSW chief health officer that a decision has been taken to place the Hilltops LGA into a seven-day lockdown, from 6pm tonight, as a result of a confirmed positive COVID case announced this morning,” she wrote on Facebook.
“I appreciate that will come as a blow to many with school holidays upon us, and the small amount of time that we have been able to enjoy out of the recent statewide lockdown. I especially recognise the impact this will have on small business owners.”
Hilltops has a population of about 20,000, more than 7000 of whom live in Young.
Both regions join three other rural LGAs to be locked down this week – Yass, Lismore and Albury.
The same rules will apply as in the previous regional NSW lockdown. Everyone in both council areas must stay home unless for the handful of reasons to leave – including shopping for food, medical care, getting vaccinated, compassionate needs, exercise and work or tertiary education if it can’t be done at home.
Fully vaccinated people are still allowed to gather outside in groups of up to five.
There is the usual push for COVID testing across both regions, to help authorities determine how far the virus has spread.
“A strong response to testing will be a key factor in determining if these stay-at-home orders are extended beyond one week,” NSW Health said.