The restrictions cover approximately five million people after Delta variant-related cases, as neighboring New Zealand raises the alert level.
People in Sydney, Australia’s largest city, have been ordered not to leave the metropolitan area, as authorities are scrambling to contain a number of new coronavirus cases of the Delta variant, a development that has caused neighboring New Zealand to raise its alert level following a possible exposure of an Australian tourist.
New South Wales (Gladys Berejiklian) Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian announced on Wednesday the strictest sidewalks, affecting some five million people living and working in the city.
“Clearly this is an evolving situation,” Berejiklian said at a news conference.
The new rules went into effect at 4pm Sydney time (6am GMT) and will remain in place for a week.
“Given what has happened, the NSW government will take action today to limit the spread of what is a highly contagious variant of COVID.”
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard described the situation as “a very real and current danger” to the city, as a cluster first identified on Bondi Beach grew to 21 cases, with eight confirmed on Wednesday morning.
Most of the recently confirmed cases were tracked in a single event, where a mass rally was held on Tuesday.
“This is a new and more dangerous version of the virus,” Hazzard said during the press conference.
The new restrictions include a limit on home visitors to five people, including children, Berejiklian said.
The mask suit, which had already been reset on Friday, will be expanded with people required to wear masks to all indoor settings away from home and at outdoor events. Measures also include capacity limits on public transportation and gym classes, while singing will not be allowed in covered venues, including places of worship.
Authorities are also urging people to take evidence.
“If we comply with the health orders today, we will have a good chance of overcoming this outbreak,” Berejiklian told reporters.
New Zealand on alert
Warning people: new COVID restrictions for Sydney from 4pm today. Keep everyone safe. pic.twitter.com/9ELNGiS2fr
– Jenny Leong MP 梁 珍妮 (@jennyleong) June 23, 2021
As of Wednesday, Australia had recorded more than 30,300 cases and 910 deaths.
The country has been one of the most successful in the world in containing the pandemic, which has allowed it to reopen the border with New Zealand.
But new cases are proving the travel bubble among the neighbors.
On Wednesday, New Zealand raised its pandemic alert level in Wellington to the second level, which remains at a level of one blockade.
Earlier, an Australian tourist who visited the capital over the weekend tested positive for COVID when he returned to Sydney.
“These are precautionary measures that will be maintained as we contact the tracking and test all we need,” said New Zealand COVID Response Minister Chris Hipkins.
Below the high alert level, offices, schools and businesses are still allowed to open, but people have to follow the rules of social distancing.
Meetings of more than 100 people, including weddings and other celebrations, are prohibited.
New Zealand has a population of five million people and has recorded a total of 2,720 cases and 26 deaths. The country has recorded a recovery rate of 98.2%.
In Australia itself, Queensland and Victoria have closed their borders to people from many parts of Sydney as a result of the new cases.