Sydney and Victoria ramp up restrictions as more Covid clusters emerge

- December 31, 2020 3 MIN READ
Sydneysiders and Melburnians will be forced to have quieter ends to 2020 with new restrictions being announced by both states.

Victorians have just six hours to adapt to changes kicking in at 5pm on New Years Eve, with the number of people at private gatherings at home halved to 15 visitors, with mask use indoors also mandatory unless people are eating and drinking.

Victoria’s two-month run of no locally acquired cases ended yesterday with with three Covid-19 cases identified from the Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant where a NSW traveller dined on December 21. Three more cases were found today taking the Victoria total to six and close contacts have been identified in areas including  Melbourne, Barwon Heads and several other locations over the following week.

The list is on the Dept of Health and Human Services (DHHS) site here.

The DHHS has contacted 52 close contacts of the first three cases.

Acting Premier Jacinta Allan said people with New Year’s Eve gatherings with 30 guests will now need to halve the guest list to comply with the new rules. The figure includes anyone over 12 months old.

The good news is the residents of the house do not count in the 15 – that’s the visitor cap.

Victoria Health Minister Martin Foley also urged any Victorians across the border to head home urgently or face tougher quarantine rules as infections spread beyond the initial Northern Beaches cluster.

“Do not go to New South Wales. If you are in Victoria and if you are a Victorian in New South Wales, well beyond Wollongong and the Blue Mountains, come back,” he said.

“You do not want to be caught on the wrong side of a rapidly evolving situation.”

People who’ve been in the Blue Mountains and Wollongong regions will be barred from entering Victoria from midnight on January 1.

Victoria has already shut its border to people from the Northern Beaches, Greater Sydney and NSW Central Coast regions and the minister said more restrictions may be introduced to deal with a “very serious situation”.

Sydney infections spread

Meanwhile, NSW Health has recorded 17 positive Covid-19 infections, including 10 local infections and six linked to the new “Croydon cluster”. All six cases are members of an extended family who had close contact over Christmas.

Health authorities are still attempting to establish a link to pre-existing cases and NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian suggested more cases will likely emerge in the coming week.

“The Croydon cluster is of concern because there are no direct links at this stage,” she said.

“We anticipate because of the nature of that extended family’s movements that there will be more cases from that cluster.”

The Sydney fireworks will proceed, along with they Sydney test match.

NSW Health Minister urges caution

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has encouraged anyone with even minor symptoms to come forward for testing and urged people to remain at home or limit visits wherever possible.

“Anybody who is having friends around, make sure that no more than five people come to your home,” he said.

“And I would say, I mean, it’s obvious that when we have someone come into our home that they tend to be close to us and therefore we take chances in terms of kissing and cuddling and so on, but don’t do it. Don’t do it for the moment.

“Have them in your household, enjoy their company, but don’t get too close. Maintain that 1.5m social distancing. You’re doing them a favour, you’re doing yourself a favour, you’re doing your community a favour.”

South Australian premier Steven Marshall has also ramped up his state’s response to the NSW infections, introducing a hard border closer with the state from midnight on New Year’s Eve.

  • Additional reporting by Cec Busby.