NSW has recorded nine new locally-acquired cases of COVID-19 as authorities implore Sydneysiders to think twice about attending Boxing Day sales.
Nearly 40,000 people in NSW turned out on Christmas Day for testing, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on December 26, with nine positive results.
Another six COVID-19 cases were uncovered in the hotel quarantine system.
Eight of the nine local cases were connected to the northern beaches cluster – six of which were household contacts of prior cases – while the Bondi-based ninth case may be a false positive test result.
That person has no connection to the 116-strong northern beaches cluster, the source of which remains unclear.
“We know today the strategy we have in place is working and I want to really thank everybody for trying so hard and working so hard during what is often a time when we are all coming together,” Berejiklian said.
Berejiklian said outdoor gatherings of five people on the northern end of the northern beaches would be permissible from Sunday, despite the reimposition of the pre-Christmas stay-at-home orders.
On the southern end of the northern beaches, in suburbs such as Manly, outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people would be permitted. Stay-at-home orders in the peninsula’s south have also been reinstated.
For the rest of Sydney, 10-person private gathering restrictions apply once again.
Health orders would be revised from December 31 but Berejiklian predicted Sydneysiders would be watching New Year’s Eve fireworks from home this year.
“The reason we’re doing (restrictions) at the moment in three-day bite-sized chunks is to make sure we have the best advice available,” Berejiklian said.
Sydneysiders were also urged to think twice about attending Boxing Day sales on Saturday over fears of COVID-19 transmission.
It came as passengers on a regional flight and people lining up for Santa photos in the CBD were among the latest groups to be placed on alert.
People on flight ZL6469 from Sydney to Griffith, in NSW’s Riverina region, departing on Monday afternoon are considered close contacts of a virus case.
People who attended a Santa photo set-up on level three of Sydney’s QVB building between 10.15am and 11am on Wednesday should monitor for symptoms.
Berejiklian on Friday discouraged people from going to the CBD for Boxing Day sales. But the premier implored anyone who did venture out to wear a mask, use hand sanitiser and practise social distancing.
Many Sydneysiders made do with smaller Christmas celebrations on Friday because of restrictions on family gatherings.
But police were on Christmas afternoon called to help break up a large crowd at a park at Bronte in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
“It is absolutely appalling to see what was clearly a group of people, a large gathering of people, who didn’t give a damn about the rest of Sydney,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard told reporters on Saturday.
“That event, I am hoping, will not become a super-spreader event, but there’s every chance it could be.”