Australia

Regional lockdown, tighter travel rules and new payments: NSW’s updated COVID-19 measures explained

As New South Wales recorded its worst day yet for COVID-19 cases on Saturday, all of regional NSW was put into lockdown and a raft of new government measures were announced.

The state government’s crisis cabinet met on Friday at the end of a week that has already seen more than 2,000 new cases.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Saturday the current state of affairs represented “the worst situation that New South Wales has been in since day one” of the pandemic.

Here’s what’s changing in the coming days.

All of regional NSW joins lockdown

From 5pm Saturday, all of regional NSW will join the rest of the state in lockdown. The new order has replaced existing orders in already-locked down regional areas.

Everyone must stay at home unless they have a reasonable excuse to leave, and not have visitors from outside their household. However, people still can have one visitor at one time for compassionate reasons or to fulfil carer responsibilities.

All hospitality venues must revert to takeaway. Retail premises are required to close except for those that provide essential goods. Service stations, banks, post offices, laundromats and drycleaners can remain open.

Anyone who leaves their home must have a mask at all times.

Employers have been asked to allow employees to work from home unless it is not reasonably practicable.

NSW records 466 new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases

 

Five-kilometre limit imposed

From Monday, the 10-kilometre-from-home rule for people in Greater Sydney and other locked-down areas will be reduced to 5km.

It means people will only be able to shop, exercise, or engage in recreational activities in their LGA or within 5km of home.

“You can do activity within your local government area but instead of 10km from your home, it will be 5km from your home,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Two new payments – including one for visa holders

Also from Monday, a new $320 payment will be available for workers who live in the LGAs of concern and need to isolate while waiting for COVID-19 test results.

Eligible workers aged 17 and over will be eligible for one COVID-19 Test and Isolate Support Payment over a four-week period.

The state government says it will help cover lost wages of casual workers but also those who may have exhausted their sick or carer’s leave to isolate at home.

The money should show up in affected workers’ bank accounts within three business days of applying online at Service NSW. 

There will also be a new $400 hardship payment payable through the Red Cross for temporary visa holders and others who are ineligible for other income support.

More ADF personell and greater fines

An extra 500 Australian Defence Force officers will be joining the NSW Police compliance operation from Monday to enforce tougher COVID-19 restrictions in the state. 

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said officers would be taking a stricter approach to compliance and imposing fines for breaches of the rules, some of which have increased five-fold to $5,000. 

“(Up until now) police have been taking a community-based policing response and I believe we will be policing much harder over the next 21 days – and I do not apologise for that,” he said.

Commissioner Fuller said the already expanded police presence in the COVID-hit LGA of Fairfield has helped create an impact.

“The health response, the police response and the whole of government response has seen COVID stabilise and start to fall,” he said.

Permit system for regional travel

A new permit system will be put in place for those in Greater Sydney looking to travel to the regions from 21 August.

Travellers will only be able to enter regional NSW if they have a permit from Service NSW and if they are authorised workers, inspecting real estate to live in, or travelling to a second home for work or maintenance purposes.

Ms Berejiklian said police would be able “to stop you and seek evidence for what you are doing” before then.

At least 1,400 officers will be monitoring road traffic to ensure compliance with the rules, Commissioner Fuller said. 

‘Singles bubble’ rules updated

From 21 August, people part of a singles bubble in the LGAs of concern will need to register their names with the government. 

Registration will soon be made available at nsw.gov.au.

The measure was introduced at the end of last month as a means of allowing people who live alone to connect with others. 

SBS is providing live translations of daily NSW COVID-19 press conferences in Arabic, Assyrian, Cantonese, Khmer, Mandarin and Vietnamese. You can stream those live translations at SBS Arabic24SBS AssyrianSBS CantoneseSBS ChineseSBS Khmer, and SBS Vietnamese Facebook pages.

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