Sydney ramps up lockdown: ‘non-critical’ retail shuts, construction stopped, office staff must work from home

- July 17, 2021 3 MIN READ
All construction in Sydney will cease and non-essential retailers will close until at least July 30 as COVID-19 infections across the city remain high.

There were 111 new cases of the Delta strain in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, with 29 active in the community during the infectious period.

Among the 111 new local cases, 83 are from south-western Sydney local health district, including 60 from the Fairfield local government area.

A man in his 80s from south-western Sydney who had Covid died yesterday.

Premier Gladys Berejilklian set zero infections active in the community as the government’s benchmark for ending lockdown restrictions, but said that figure, in the mid-20s for most of this week, has remained “stubbornly high”.

The government has ramped up lockdown restrictions as a consequence.

Residents in three south-western Sydney council areas that are the epicentre of the will be confined to their region from midnight tonight unless a health or emergency services worker, the Premier said.

“If you live in either the Fairfield, Canterbury/ Bankstown, or Liverpool local government areas, you cannot leave those local government areas for work unless you work in health or emergency services, and that takes effect from midnight tonight,” she said.

More broadly, the following changes come into effect across Greater Sydney including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour until midnight on Friday, July 30:

From 11.59pm on Saturday, July 17:

Retail premises must close (‘click and collect’, takeaway and home delivery can still operate), except the following can remain open:

  • Supermarkets and grocery stores (including butchers, bakeries, fruit and vegetable stores, liquor stores and fishmongers);
  • Stores that predominantly sell health, medical, maternity and infant supplies;
  • Pharmacies and chemists;
  • Petrol stations;
  • Car hire;
  • Banks and financial institutions;
  • Hardware, nurseries and building supplies;
  • Agricultural and rural supplies;
  • Pet supplies;
  • Post offices and newsagents; and
  • Office supplies.
  • In addition to the stay-at-home rules, residents of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool LGAs cannot leave their area for work except for emergency services and healthcare workers (including aged and disability workers).
  • Workers who do need to leave any of those 3 LGAs for work must be tested every three days, even if they do not have symptoms;
  • Anyone who leaves the home must have a mask with them at all times. They must be worn when working outdoors, in outdoor markets, outdoor shopping strips, and in an outdoor queues waiting for products such as coffee and food; and
  • Carpooling is banned unless among members of the same household.

From 12.01am on Monday, July 19:

  • All construction to be paused; and
  • Non-urgent maintenance, including cleaning services, and repair work on residential premises to be paused.

From 12.01am on Wednesday, July 21:

  • Employers must allow employees to work from home if they are able to, or face fines of up to $10,000.

All other restrictions currently in place across Greater Sydney including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour will remain in place.

Restrictions in regional NSW remain unchanged.

Having appealed to “commonsense” all week on outlining what retail stores should open – luxury handbag retailers were among those continuing to trade – the Premier has now followed the lead set by her Victorian counterpart, Dan Andrews, in setting a prescriptive list of “critical” shops that are the only retailers allow to open.

“From midnight tonight, we will also make sure that only critical retail remains open,” she said.

“But anything which is regarded as non-critical retail will not be able to have face-to-face. We will be able to have cricket — click and collect, delivery or take away but please know we have considered carefully what is on the critical list

Premier Berejiklian said they don’t want employees being forced to go into the office and the government is ramping up fines against bosses as a consequence.

We’ve said that for employees, anyone who works in an office environment should be working from home, but if your boss forces you to come into work in an office environment, your boss could be given and on the spot fine of $10,000,” she said.

The Premier said the decision to cease construction work for the next fortnight was a “very difficult one” and she “can’t remember a time when our state has been challenged to such an extent”.

“I’ve always said to our community that we’ll always take the decisions to keep our community safe and to allow businesses to bounce back as soon as possible,” she said.

“None of this is easy and none of us would have made these decisions, unless it was based on the health advice and unless it gives us the best chance of quashing the virus in the shortest amount of time.

“We are already on lockdown and we are asking our community to go that step further until July 30.”

For the latest information on the government’s COVID response and rules, visit nsw.gov.au/covid-19