Sydney Braced for Longer Lockdown as Virus Cases Spike
Sydneysiders are braced for a longer and tighter lockdown after Australia’s biggest city recorded 50 new daily cases on Saturday.
“Things are going to get worse before they get better,” New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said at a press conference. “Unless we reduce that level of people in the community that are infectious, we won’t be able to turn things around as quickly as we can or as quickly as we should.”
Of the new cases, 26 were infectious while in the community. Total cases in the current delta variant outbreak are now at 489 and Berejiklian has warned that unless it is quickly brought under control, Sydney’s lockdown will need to stay in place beyond July 16.
The police issued 167 penalty notices for lockdown breaches yesterday and Berejiklian called on the public to respect the rules, and avoid leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary. “If people continue to flout the rules, that is our biggest risk of a prolonged lockdown,” she said.
On Friday, the government imposed stricter social-distancing measures including only allowing one person in a household to shop for food or other essentials once a day.
As the case numbers in Sydney climb, neighboring Victoria also flagged the possibility of a hard border closure. Victorians in regional New South Wales should make their way home now, the head of the state’s Covid-response taskforce said.
“If you haven’t left already, you need to leave as soon as you possibly can,” Jeroen Weimar told reporters. “The situation continues to evolve very, very rapidly.”
Residents of Sydney and surrounding areas are already barred from crossing into neighboring states but those outside the lockdown area have been able to travel.
While tough border restrictions helped Australia prevent the waves of death and illness that swept the U.S. and Europe, a slow vaccine rollout has left it still largely unprotected against the virus. Just 26% of the country’s roughly 26 million people have received their first jab, compared with 68% in the U.K, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker.
On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a deal with Pfizer Inc. will see millions of vaccine doses delivered earlier than previously scheduled, meaning every Australian will be offered at least one jab by year-end.
Vaccine access has been mainly limited to priority groups and the over 40s, with a shortage of supply meaning even those eligible face long waits to book appointments.
With no clear end in sight to the Sydney lockdown, Federal Labor opposition leader Anthony Albanese on Saturday called on Morrison to do more to support casual employees put out of work by the city’s closure.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.