Residents of Greater Sydney and surrounds are bracing for more COVID-19 cases on the first day of a two-week lockdown.
Premier Gladys Berejikilian ordered the lockdown of Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong on Saturday.
Residents are only allowed to leave home for work that can’t be done at home, to shop for essential items, for exercise, to seek medical care or for caregiving or compassionate reasons.
The Australian Retailers Association estimates the loss in retail trade during the lockdown will reach $ 2 billion.
The lockdown order followed news that COVID-19 case numbers in the so-called Bondi cluster swelled by 12 to 80.
There are 73 close contact exposure sites across the eastern suburbs, inner west, northern beaches, the north and greater western Sydney.
There are also 108 sites where people who have visited are considered ‘casual contacts’.
NSW Health has issued an alert for passengers who travelled on five Virgin flights to and from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and the Gold Coast on Friday and Saturday after a flight attendant tested positive to the virus.
Details of the flights can be found on the NSW Health website and all passengers are asked to get tested and isolate, following news the crew member could have been infectious at the time.
Ms Berejiklian has warned people that virus case numbers will climb in coming days.
“We should brace ourselves because the contact tracers have done such a good job in identifying potential cases and their close contacts … we know that the numbers will go up the next few days,” she said on Saturday.
Anyone in NSW who has been to Greater Sydney since June 21 is also being asked to stay at home for the lockdown period.
Exercise outdoors is allowed in groups of up to 10, and COVID-safe funerals can proceed with up to 100 people.
Weddings are allowed on Sunday with restrictions in place, but must be cancelled from Monday.
Ms Berejiklian urged people to abide by rules, saying police “will not be afraid to throw the book at anybody who does the wrong thing”.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard warned people not to try to flee the lockdown areas either.
“If a police officer detects that you’re there, and there’s say five people in the car, that’s potentially, if he decides you’re going to court: $ 11,000 times five, a maximum fine (of) $ 55,000,” Mr Hazzard said.
The premier urged people not to panic buy, or stress about money with shops to remain open and financial assistance to be available.
“It’s never easy when all of us have to face these circumstances, but we’re all in the same situation,” she said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says special payments of $ 500 per week will kick in on Thursday for eligible people impacted by the lockdown.
“This pandemic, sadly, is still raging all around the world, and from time to time it will have its impact here in Australia,” he said in a Facebook video message.
“Australians are working very hard around the clock in so many areas to ensure Australia is protected.”
Australian Associated Press