Five million Greater Sydney residents will be locked down for an extra seven days as the Covid Delta variant continues to spread around the city with 27 new cases on Wednesday, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced.
There will be no relaxation of restrictions as planned on Friday, with shops and restaurants kept shut and schools closed except for children of essential workers until Friday July 16.
The extension also applies to the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Shellharbour and Wollongong.
Some Sydney residents vented their anger on Wednesday morning after news of the extension was leaked to the media.
Broadcaster Ben Fordham, who hosts one of Sydney's most popular breakfast radio shows, fielded dozens of calls from exasperated parents and businesses owners.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
George street in Sydney's CBD was empty on Wednesday morning as lockdown continued
Residents lined up to get a vaccine at Sydney's Olympic Park where a mass hub is operating
'People are at breaking point, businesses are at breaking point. We are hearing heartbreaking stories everywhere,' he said on the show.
'We have had 18 months to prepare ourselves… this must be our final lockdown.'
One called named Michael said: 'This is just getting ridiculous now. About 1,500 people a year die of the flu. Did we shut the bloody city down?'
Caller Chris added: 'Open Sydney, look after the elderly, look after the vulnerable. That's it.'
But a poll of 1,000 Daily Mail Australia readers found 58 per cent were in favour of extending the lockdown to snuff out the deadly disease which can leave victims suffering for weeks.
One in 20 people who caught Covid in NSW's first wave still had symptoms three months later such as fatigue, shortness of breath, a cough, joint pain and chest pain.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
While nations around the world are opening up after successful vaccination rollouts, only nine per cent of Aussie adults are doubled jabbed, meaning lockdowns are still required.
Sydney and surrounding areas will remain in lockdown for at least another week as the city's rampant Covid-19 outbreak continues to spread throughout the western suburbs. Pictured: Sydneysiders stroll around Bondi Beach during lockdown on Tuesday
While nations around the world are opening up after successful vaccination rollouts, only nine per cent of Aussie adults are doubled jabbed. Pictured: Sydney vaccine queues
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Fordham reminded Premier Gladys Berejiklian that she has repeatedly said the nation needs to 'learn to live with the virus.'
'You said New South Wales should remain open to give business confidence so what's changed,' he said on his show.
The premier on Tuesday said the highly infectious Delta strain, which spawned in India, posed a greater threat to public health than previous strains.
With community transmission confirmed in Sydney's west late on Tuesday night, including in a busy Coles in Parramatta, the NSW government made the call to extend restrictions until 11.59pm on July 16.
Crisis meetings were held throughout Tuesday, with the government reportedly having considered three different options - a three, five or seven day extension.
In an unusual late-night drop of new Covid-19 exposure sites which added to fears about the outbreak, health chiefs revealed people had infected others at four venues across the city.
Of most concern to contact tracers is an infected Commonwealth Bank staff member who unwittingly spread the virus after working three shifts from June 28 to 30 at a branch in Roselands in Sydney's southwest, forcing staff and customers into isolation.
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The situation is also worsening in Sydney's west, with customers of the Coles at Westfield Parramatta (pictured) and Country Growers grocery store told to isolate for 14 days regardless of whether they get a negative Covid test result
As part of the extended lockdown, schools will be shut with at-home-learning taking the place of face-to-face classes (pictured, parents collect children at St Charle's Primary School at Waverley in Sydney, June 22, after a child became infected with Covid-19)
- Stay-at-home orders will be extended to July 16
- Schools in Greater Sydney will start at-home learning to replace face-to-face classes
- No child will be turned away from schools, meaning those in need can still attend
- There will be no regional easing of restrictions
- Schools will be open in regional NSW
- Infections have spread from Sydney's east to the wester suburbs, worrying contact tracers
NSW Health revealed there had been 'transmission of Covid-19 to customers' at the bank, with the virus also being spread at two supermarkets in Paramatta, in Sydney's west.
The exposure dates at the bank are Monday June 28, Tuesday, June 29 and Wednesday June 30, with customers told to get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days.
Customers who attended Coles at Westfield Parramatta and Country Growers grocery store have also been told to get tested immediately and self isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result.
The same goes for a construction site in Toongabbie, where an infected tradie worked for five days from June 28 to July 2 before testing positive.
All of the above four venues were visited by infected people, and were also the site of a spreading event.
Speaking about the possibility lockdown would be extended earlier on Tuesday, Ms Berejiklian said the infectiousness of the Indian Delta strain had dramatically altered the situation.
'The difference now to what occurred in the last year or so - since we had the only one other lockdown [the national lockdown in March 2020] - is the Delta strain,' Ms Berejiklian said.
'This strain is different to what we have experienced. If you look at other jurisdictions around the world, we can see that you can't afford to let this get away from you.'
Other exposed sites announced on Tuesday include Coles in Hurtsville, McDonald's at Bonnyrigg and Woolworths in Hillsdale.
The lockdown was brought in on June 26 to confine the highly infectious Indian Delta strain to the epicentre in Sydney's east (pictured, a woman goes for a jog during Sydney's lockdown in Bondi on Tuesday)