Sydney’s Northern Beaches community is in lockdown, with the rest of the city on standby in case infection spread leads to broader restrictions.
The NSW premier has flagged a possible return to tighter measures in the state capital.
“To put everybody on notice, we will be considering today after consulting obviously with the relevant people, whether this time tomorrow we do revert back to some restrictions in greater Sydney,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Saturday.
“That is a possibility.”
Overnight, authorities issued a number of new public health alerts.
Hundreds of people who attended Anytime Fitness on Avalon Parade on or after 8 December are now considered “close contacts” and should get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days after their most recent visit to the gym.
Anyone who attended the gym between Monday 23 November and Monday 7 December should get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have also visited a number of locations around Sydney, including Nomad Restaurant and Strawberry Hills Hotel in Surry Hills on 16 December.
A full list of venues with COVID-19 health alerts can be found here.
The Northern Beaches cluster grew by 23 cases to 40 infections on Saturday, which prompted other states to strengthen their borders against Sydney travellers.
More cases were diagnosed after the 8pm cutoff on Saturday and will be announced on Sunday, with the premier indicating the outbreak will grow by the same number or more cases.
Northern Beaches residents are under stay-at-home orders last imposed back in March at the height of the COVID-19 crisis.
The lockdown lasts until Wednesday in an effort, Ms Berejiklian said, to give Sydney a chance for a semi-normal Christmas.
“We’re hoping that will give us sufficient time to get on top of the virus, so that we can then ease up for Christmas and the New Year,” she said.
People are permitted to leave their homes for five basic reasons: to seek medical care, exercise, grocery shop, work or for compassionate care reasons.
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant has said only three of all cases diagnosed so far are not linked to the Avalon Bowlo or Avalon RSL, the two venues at the centre of the cluster.
She confirmed sewerage testing in the Northern Beaches returned a negative result for the virus on 10 December , indicating the first community case occurred after that date.
NSW Health has asked hundreds of gym-goers on Sydney’s Northern Beaches to get tested and isolate immediately.
The latest state to ramp up its border restrictions against NSW is Tasmania. Premier Peter Gutwein announced on Saturday his health officials had raised greater Sydney to “medium risk” level.
All travellers to Tasmania from Sydney – not just from the Northern Beaches – will be required to quarantine for two weeks.
Late on Saturday, it was announced that the Sydney to Hobart yacht race had been cancelled for the first time in its history, with organisers admitting border restrictions forced by Sydney’s coronavirus outbreak made it impossible to stage.
“We are bitterly disappointed to cancel the race this year especially considering the plans and preparations we had put in place to have a COVID Safe race,” Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) commodore Noel Cornish said, announcing the cancellation on Saturday night, less than six days out from the scheduled Boxing Day start.
Queensland reimposed a border permit system from 1am Sunday and Victoria flagged the possibility of following Tasmania, if the virus spreads.
Ms Berejiklian has urged her interstate counterparts to take a proportional response.
“It is a hotspot, no denying that, but… there’s no evidence that it’s outside Northern Beaches,” she said.
Genomic sequencing has connected the cluster to a US strain of the virus, which may have entered NSW in a returned traveller in early December.
That traveller has never left the hotel quarantine system, and the connection between that case and the northern beaches remains unclear.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus. Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania.