Christmas is officially off the cards in NSW as a raft of strict new COVID-19 restrictions has been imposed to try and contain the growing coronavirus cluster that started in the Norther Beaches.
New South Wales has recorded a further 15 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, with all locally acquired cases linking to the Norther Beaches Avalon cluster.
It comes after the state recorded 30 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, of which 28 were linked to the Northern beaches cluster while two were under investigation.
While a leading infectious disease expert warned Greater Sydney will need to go into an immediate short lockdown before Christmas to prevent cases from surging to 3000 by early January, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a raft of social distancing measures to control the spread.
It’s uncertain as to whether these guidelines will work or not, but regardless, Christmas gatherings and events will need to be reduced or cancelled altogether.
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Suburbs in lockdown until Wednesday
The Northern Beaches area (stretching from and including Manly to Forrestville and Avalon) are in lockdown until midnight on Wednesday the 23rd of December, with residents only allowed to leave their home for the purposes of work (if they can’t work from home), essential care, shopping to get essential goods and to exercise.
Gatherings at home
Social gatherings hosted at home are to be limited to 10 people maximum, for residents of Greater Sydney – which includes those living in the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast.
Gatherings outside the home
Hospitality, religious and all venues are now limited to allowing four people in, per four square metres – a doubling of the previous restrictions which was two metres. All events are capped at a maximum of 300 people.
Singing, dancing and chanting
Singing and chanting at indoor venues will not be allowed.
Dancefloors are also of the cards, except for weddings, where a maximum of 20 people from the bridal party will be permitted.
Aged care facilities
People in the Greater Sydney area and the Central Coast, Illawarra-Shoalhaven and Nepean Blue Mountains have been asked not to visit aged care facilities until 11:59pm on Wednesday 23 December – unless it is critical.
Health minister Brad Hazzard has asked all residents of the Greater Sydney area to wear face masks whenever social distancing isn’t possible indoors – including when at the supermarket, taking public transport and when attending any indoor vendors where the four metre rule can’t be followed. He said, “It may well be wise to wear those masks going through Christmas and New Year in the Greater Sydney area.”
Christmas has also been cancelled for anyone who had plans to travel and see family and friends in another state.
As of 1am Saturday 19 December, anyone who has travelled to a COVID-19 hotspot (Greater Sydney, including Sydney’s Northern Beaches, the Central Coast, Illawarra-Shoalhaven, and Nepean Blue Mountains local government areas) in the last 14 days is permitted to enter Queensland and will be turned away at the border. Those wishing to enter Queensland can apply for an exemption to enter the state and, if granted, they will still be required to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense.
Victoria has banned travel into the state from Greater Sydney, and introduced a permit system for entry for the rest of NSW.
The Greater Sydney area has now been labelled a “red zone” while the Northern Beaches are considered a “hot zone”, the highest alert level.
Only travellers from NSW with special exemptions will be allowed to fly into WA after midnight on Saturday December 19.
Anyone in WA from NSW since December 11 needs to get tested and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
The Northern Territory declared Greater Sydney, the local government areas of Central Coast Council and City of Blue Mountains, and the Illawarra region COVID-19 hotspots as of 3pm on December 20, 2020.
Anyone who has been in the Northern Beaches area since December 11 is banned from entering SA.
Anyone arriving from NSW by plane or road will be tested on arrival and those from greater Sydney will go into hotel quarantine.
Travellers to Tasmania from Sydney will be required to quarantine for two weeks.
Anyone who has been in the areas of Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Illawarra-Shoalhaven and Nepean-Blue Mountains since December 11 and arriving after midnight on Sunday 20 December will have to self-quarantine for 14 days.