Sydney’s northern beaches will enter a lockdown similar to the one imposed during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March as a cluster of cases in the area increased to 41.
From late Saturday afternoon until midnight Wednesday, residents will only be permitted to leave their homes for five basic reasons: medical care, exercise, grocery shop, work or for compassionate care reasons.
An additional 23 cases were recorded in the 24 hours, including 10 already announced, taking the new cases to 41. All but two of those are from the so-called Avalon cluster, named after a community of about 10,000 people on the northern beaches about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from downtown Sydney.
New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the restrictions are essential if Sydney has any hope of a semi-normal Christmas.
“We’re hoping that will give us sufficient time to get on top of the virus, so that we can then ease up for Christmas and the New Year,” she said.
The new cases came as health officials asked hundreds of gym goers on Sydney’s northern beaches to get tested and isolate immediately. The gym adds to a lengthy list of venues, including a lawn bowling club, visited by confirmed cases published by authorities on Friday.
Other states acted to prevent the cases jumping borders, with more barriers for New South Wales residents put in place by Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Most of those involved 14-day quarantine periods for people from the northern beaches who travel to those states.