Sydney could be plunged into lockdown if new Covid cases aren’t linked to the Bondi cluster start to emerge, as more stores are added to the growing list of exposure sites and virus fragments are found in the sewage of 15 suburbs.
NSW Health has added five venues to the list of exposure sites in the city on Tuesday evening, including Wallabies Thai Restaurant in Mascot and Mascot Central Shopping Precinct.
The ANZ bank in Martin Place was also added, along with two more shops in Bondi Junction – Chanel fragrance and beauty on level four of the shopping centre, and Starbucks on level 2.
The eastern suburbs shopping mall has been at the heart of Sydney’s latest outbreak, which swelled to 21 on Tuesday.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has historically dismissed suggestions that the entire city should be locked down in the event of another coronavirus surge.
But she changed her tune on Tuesday after it was revealed that a child from Charles Catholic Primary School at Waverley tested positive with no known ties to the Bondi outbreak.
Gladys Berejiklian addresses media during a press conference at NSW Parliament in Sydney on Tuesday, in which she hinted lockdown restrictions could be brought in
The Bondi cluster has ballooned to 21 cases, with several others unlinked to the outbreak (pictured, testing in Bondi on Tuesday)
‘Because all but one case is linked to an existing case and that case was only discovered a few hours ago … that gives us a degree of confidence that what we have asked people to do matches the risk that is there at the moment,’ she said.
‘If that changes, if we suddenly have a number of unlinked cases and if we suddenly have them outside the geographic region they are concentrated in that we will obviously adjust the health advice and we will respond to that (idea of a lockdown).’
She did announce a week-long extension of mask restrictions, which have now been expanded to include all of Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra region, as of 4pm on Tuesday.
Face masks are compulsory on public transport and indoor venues until midnight on June 30.
Pictured: Digital signs encourage customers to wear face masks at Westfield Bondi Junction – with all visitors at any time from June 12 to 18 told to get tested
‘We will extend it to all of Greater Sydney. That means excluding the Central Coast and excluding the Hunter, but also they will be required to adhere to that compulsory mask wearing indoors for hospitality workers when we are going shopping, going grocery shopping, going to events inside,’ she told reporters.
‘It is only when you are eating or drinking indoors at a venue that you can’t or shouldn’t wear a mask. In every other circumstance, if you live or are in Sydney, you must wear a mask for another week beyond Wednesday midnight.’
The last lockdown in Sydney happened in December after the Northern Beaches cluster swelled to more than 150 cases.
At just 38 cases, Ms Berejiklian gave a stay-at-home order to everyone in the region on December 19, meaning residents were urged to stay home unless travelling for work, shopping for essentials, visiting a doctor, or for exercise.
The area north of Narrabeen was locked down for three weeks of Christmas and New Year, while those living south of the Narrabeen Bridge were released from restrictions a week earlier.
Pictured: Cars line up for Covid-19 testing at Bondi in Sydney on Tuesday as 12 new cases were announced
Of seven new cases announced on Tuesday and due to be included in Wednesday’s figures, six are household contacts of previously known cases and already in isolation.
The five cases from Tuesday include a woman in her 60s from the Illawarra and a woman in her 40s from Sydney’s north.
Both are contacts of previously reported cases and already in isolation.
A woman in her 20s from the city’s eastern suburbs also tested positive and officials said her case is linked to the Bondi cluster. That infection is still under investigation.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said authorities were particularly concerned about the woman in her 20s as she worked in the Bondi Junction area.
‘We are calling out for anyone who has been in Bondi Junction including the car parks at any time between June 12 and June 18 to get a test,’ she said.
Pictured: Commuters are seen wearing masks in Sydney during restrictions in January this year – which were brought in after a cluster of 150 broke out on the city’s Northern Beaches
Health authorities said on Monday the growing outbreak in Sydney’s east was at a critical phase.
Dr Chant said concerns remain over the extreme transmissibility of the Delta strain of the illness.
‘In some instances, the exchanges have been scaringly fleeting,’ NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said 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 said the contagious nature of the virus means the state is at a critical stage in managing the outbreak.