Shopping, getting your hair done and riding the bus are just a few of the activities set to look a little bit different in Greater Sydney as of midnight Saturday.
On Saturday morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced residents in the area, which includes Wollongong, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains, will have to wear masks in some public indoor places, or else risk copping a $200 fine.
Mask-wearing will be compulsory in settings including shopping centres, public transport, places of worship, hair and beauty salons, gaming areas of establishments and entertainment venues such as cinemas. Staff in hospitality venues and casinos will also have to wear a mask. (We put together a handy guide on where to buy masks that support small businesses here.)
The new rules come as seven new cases of COVID were recorded in the previous 24 hours until Friday 8pm. Five of the cases are from western and south-western Sydney and linked to the known Berala cluster, while the sixth case is still under investigation.
NSW recorded seven locally acquired cases of #COVID19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, with an additional 12 cases in returned travellers in hotel quarantine. This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in NSW to 4,758 since the beginning of the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/K2m38p6uwx
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) January 2, 2021
Also in Saturday morning’s press conference, Ms Berejiklian announced gym classes in Greater Sydney to be restricted to 30 people and places of worship, weddings and funerals to be capped at 100 attendees, all subject to the four square metre rule. Outdoor performances and protestors are also to be limited to 300 attendees while outdoor seated events are limited to 2000.
Good news for those in the southern half of the Northern Beaches: lockdown will be lifted as of Saturday midnight and subjected to the same provisions as Greater Sydney. “You [residents of that area] do not have to comply with the stay-at-home conditions,” Ms Berejiklian said via the ABC. “Thankfully, according to the health advice, the risk of transmission in that part of the Northern Beaches has dissipated.”
Those in the north part of the Northern Beaches are still not allowed to have visitors to their home, non-essential businesses must remain closed and outdoor gatherings for exercise and recreation are capped at five people. The stay-at-home rules will remain until January 9.
In other COVID-related news, Victoria closed its border to NSW on Friday midnight after NSW recorded 10 new cases that day. Victoria now has 29 active cases.
Yesterday there were 10 new local cases reported, 2 cases internationally acquired and in hotel quarantine. Thanks to all who were tested, 18,337 results were received. #EveryTestHelps #StaySafeStayOpen More later: https://t.co/lIUrl1hf3W #COVID19Vic pic.twitter.com/m9A6q7E2ki
— VicGovDHHS (@VicGovDHHS) January 1, 2021
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley called the cluster, linked to the New South Wales outbreak, “a very serious matter.”
“We are determined to get on top of it and I know that requires what appears to some people to be tough measures, but the virus does not respect state borders,” he said via 9News.
To keep up-to-date with COVID news in Australia, follow The Guardian’s rolling coverage here.