Major restrictions imposed in Sydney as COVID cluster worsens

Sydney’s COVID outbreak has escalated significantly with a further 16 cases recorded since yesterday, prompting tough and wide-ranging restrictions.

Three extra cases were detected before 8pm last night with a further 13 cases confirmed since then.

Eight of today’s cases contracted the virus at a party in West Hoxton where an infected worker from Bondi Junction had also attended.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a raft of new restrictions but is still resisting a wider lockdown for now.

The restrictions will apply across Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour.

Households will be limited to no more than five visitors, including children.

The one person per four square metre rule will return while patrons will have to be seated in bars and restaurants.

Dancing and singing will be banned, except for at weddings while outdoor seated events will be limited to 50 per cent capacity.

Dance and gym classes will be limited to 20 people but people must wear masks at all times.

Mask wearing will also be mandatory in all indoor settings including workplaces.

On top of that, people who live or work in the Waverley, City of Sydney, Randwick, Canada Bay, Inner West, Bayside and Woollahra council areas are being warned to travel outside of metropolitan Sydney unless ‘utterly essential’.

People from outside those councils are also being urged to avoid travelling to those areas.

“We’re not saying you cannot leave your home for any reason in metropolitan Sydney, you can. We are not putting any objections on you leaving the home for any purpose, but if you happen to live or work in those seven LGA is, we don’t want you moving outside of Sydney,” Ms Berejiklian.

“We don’t want spreading to our regions. We don’t want spreading to holiday destinations within New South Wales, at regional New South Wales in particular and I think the vast majority of the public understand that.”

The Premier has so far resisted a lockdown but insists it remains an option.

“I am not going to rule out further action, I am not going to rule out what happens beyond a week, because we don’t know. We certainly didn’t expect this situation a few days ago.

“If we need to take further action within the week or after the week, we are open to that but we just don’t know yet because the situation is evolving.”

Concerns for elderly woman missing in northern NSW

Police are appealing for help to find an elderly woman who has been missing from northern NSW for two days.

Margaret Gribble was last seen leaving a home on Camden Street at Ballina about 4pm on Monday.

It’s understood a community member reported the 88-year-old missing to officers, who have been searching for her ever since.

“Police have been told she has not made contact with friends or family members since Monday, which is out of character for her,” NSW police said.

Margaret is described as being of Caucasian appearance, about 167cm tall, of a thin build, with short grey hair and brown eyes.

It is believed she walks with the aid of a walking frame.

Anyone who sees Margaret or knows of her whereabouts is urged to contact Ballina Police Station on 02 6681 8699 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

NSW records double-digit spike in new COVID-19 cases

New South Wales has recorded 12 new local cases of COVID-19 today, including two which were already announced yesterday.

NSW Health said five cases were recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, while an additional seven locally acquired cases came in after the 8pm cut-off.

Premier Gladys Berejeklian said all of the cases, bar one, are directly linked to existing cases.

The one exception is a student at Saint Charles Catholic Primary School at Waverley and the school is in the process of notifying parents,” Premier Berejeklian said.

“I urge parents to wait for instructions from the school because we are keen to make sure that students and parents have access to testing and we want to make sure there isn’t a rush with all parents descending on the school at the same time.”

Authorities are now also asking anyone who was at Westfield Bondi Junction (including the car park) at any time between 12 June and 18 June to get tested for COVID-19.

It comes after it was revealed one of today’s new cases, a woman in her 20s, contracted the virus through “fleeting contact” at the shopping centre.

“Only people with symptoms and those who have been to specific exposure venues at the listed times need to test and isolate,” NSW Health said.

As a result of the spike in cases, the NSW Government has extended the mandatory wearing of face masks for another week, with all of Greater Sydney now included.

“The NSW Government will be extending the existing mask-wearing provisions for an additional week,” the Premier said.

“It will now continue to be mandatory for another week. We will extend it to all of Greater Sydney.”

There are now 21 cases linked to the Bondi cluster.

WATCH: Police hunt three men over alleged kidnapping of cricketer Stuart MacGill

Police investigating the alleged kidnapping of former Test cricketer Stuart MacGill have released images of three men they believe may be able to help with inquiries.

MacGill was allegedly forced into a car outside his home on Sydney’s Lower North Shore in April and driven to a property in Bringelly.

He was allegedly assaulted and threatened at gunpoint before being released about an hour later and dumped in Belmore.

Four men, including the brother of MacGill’s partner have been charged over the incident.

Police are now searching for three more men as part of the investigation.

Footage has been released showing two of the men entering a Bunnings store hours before the kidnapping where it’s believed they purchased items used during the incident.

The first man depicted in the CCTV is described as being of Pacific Islander/Maori appearance, aged between 20 and 25, about 180cm–190cm tall, with a solid build, brown eyes, dark shaved hair in a ponytail and a tattoo on his right hand.

The second man depicted in the CCTV is described as being Pacific Islander/Maori appearance, aged between 20 and 25, about 175cm–185cm tall, with a solid build, brown eyes, short dark hair and stubble.

IMAGE: NSW Police

A COMFIT image of a third man has also been released.

He is described as being of Middle Eastern appearance, aged 25-35, of solid build, with short dark coloured thinning hair and a brown and red coloured beard.

The man was seen driving a white Toyota Camry with a rideshare sticker on the rear and is believed to frequent the Ryde area.

IMAGE: NSW Police

It comes as MacGill spoke publicly for the first time about the ordeal in an interview with A Current Affair, insisting he was innocently caught up in the situation.

“I know that I have done nothing wrong, Maria has done nothing wrong. If people choose to think something contrary to what’s been presented by both myself and the police, then that’s up to them,” MacGill said.

WATCH: CCTV footage released as part of investigations by Strike Force Cain – 

 

Sydney restrictions likely to be extended

COVID-19 restrictions in Sydney will likely be extended as an outbreak in the city reaches a “critical phase”.

Two new locally transmitted cases have been recorded in NSW, taking Sydney’s eastern suburbs COVID cluster to 11.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant says it’s an “optimistic sign” the pair are both close contacts of previously reported cases and tested positive while in isolation.

The woman in her 50s from Sydney’s north and the man in his 30s from the eastern suburbs were both diagnosed after the 8pm cut off and will be included in Tuesday’s numbers.

Another two cases, announced on Sunday morning, were recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday and have been included in Monday’s figures.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says authorities are very concerned by the extremely contagious nature of this Delta strain.

“In some instances, the exchanges have been scaringly fleeting,” she told reporters on Monday.

“People not even physically touching each other but literally fleetingly coming into the same airspace has seen the virus transferred from one person to another.”

Dr Chant says the new infections are a positive sign contact tracing and isolation is working, but says NSW isn’t out of the woods.

“From one person alone we’ve had four or five cases … even if they infect one or two each, you can see how it grows exponentially.”

“That’s why this is such a critical phase.

“We need to find all the cases, and make sure we identify the close contacts and casual contacts.”

NSW Health said in a statement that people in the eastern suburbs who don’t have symptoms and have not been at exposure venues at the listed times don’t need to isolate.

However they are encouraged to avoid gatherings, minimise their movements, and work from home if possible.

The growing cluster has also prompted the government to mandate mask-wearing in seven local council areas.

Anyone shopping, working in hospitality or indoors must wear a mask unless eating or drinking if they live in the local government areas of Randwick, Bayside, Botany Bay, Inner West, City of Sydney, Waverley and Woollahra.

Masks are also compulsory on public transport in Greater Sydney, Wollongong and Shellharbour local government areas until Thursday.

Greater Sydney and Blue Mountains residents have been told to avoid non-essential visits to aged care and disability facilities and if visiting must wear a mask with a limit of two visitors a day.

Ms Berejiklian said restrictions would likely be extended and called for more people to get tested.

She also appealed for more Pfizer vaccine doses at a national cabinet meeting on Monday.

“The current outbreak we’re experiencing demonstrates the risk is always there, the threats are always there, no matter how good your systems are,” Ms Berejiklian told Sydney radio 2GB on Monday morning.

“Other states have received a top-up, and I just want to make sure we get our fair share, especially given the vast majority of Aussies coming back home are coming through Sydney Airport.”

She later told reporters she had been assured the doses would be distributed to states according to their population.

The latest outbreak was sparked last week when an unvaccinated limousine driver, who transported overseas aircrew to and from the airport, tested positive after visiting multiple venues, including the popular Bondi Junction shopping centre.

Hundreds of people are isolating after scores of close contact exposure sites were identified across more than a dozen suburbs.

© AAP 2021