Most of Sydney’s northern beaches will remain locked down over Christmas with the New South Wales Government announcing only a ‘modest’ easing of restrictions.
It comes after eight new locally acquired cases were recorded overnight despite almost 42,000 tests being carried out.
Seven are linked to the Avalon cluster while the eighth is a contact of a transport nurse involved in the quarantine system.
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From Thursday, Sydney’s northern beaches will be split into two different zones for Christmas.
A boundary will be established at the Narrabeen Bridge to the south and the Bahai Temple to the west.
Residents in the northern zone will be able to have five people from the same zone in their homes over Christmas.
But they are not allowed to leave the zone and cannot have visitors from outside.
“Both the science and the health advice tells us there are two distinct parts of the Northern Beaches and we’ll separate those areas geographically,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“So clearly the concentration of cases, the epicentre of the cluster, is in the northern part of the Northern Beaches.”
Those in the southern zone can have 10 people in their homes from outside the region over Christmas, but they cannot leave the area themselves.
“We don’t want people from the Northern Beaches mingling in other parts of Sydney at this stage but you can welcome people in,” The Premier said.
People in the rest of Greater Sydney will be allowed to have ten people in their homes for Christmas, plus any number of children under the age of 12.
“Can I stress, you cannot have different groups of 10 people during the day. It’s one group of 10 and you have to stick that group of 10, plus kids under 12.
“You can’t mix groups. You can’t have different rosters, having one-half of the family in the morning and the other half in the evening. Not possible.”
There will be no changes for regional New South Wales.
All restrictions will revert back to the current regime on December 27 however an announcement will be made on Saturday about whether the southern part of the northern beaches will also be placed back into hard lockdown.
The Premier says while there has been a modest easing of restrictions, all residents in Sydney should assess for themselves what they should do over the festive period.
“You may feel uncomfortable in going somewhere and welcoming someone to your home and everybody has to make that assessment. The last thing any of us want to do is inadvertently give the disease to those closest and dearest to us.”
Ms Berejiklian has again praised the thousands of people for coming out and getting tested.
“I’ve been so buoyed and humbled and amazed by the way in which the community have responded to what we’ve asked them to do. The testing numbers have been so pleasing. The way in which the Northern Beaches community in particular has responded has been so positive.”