Restrictions Reimposed in Sydney as Cluster Grows to 70 Cases

December 19, 2020 Updated: December 19, 2020

The New South Wales government has tightened restrictions after the COVID-19 cluster linked to Sydney ballooned to 70 cases.

The state reported another 30 cases in the 24 hours to 9 a.m. on Sunday with 28 linked to the cluster on Sydney’s northern beaches.

That takes the total number of known coronavirus cases in NSW to 70.

“While the numbers are higher today than yesterday, the one positive is we still have not seen evidence of massive seeding outside the northern beaches community and our aim, of course, is to keep that in place,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Sunday.

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A group of friends dine at Yama Gardens in Darlinghurst on May 15, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The government has reimposed a number of restrictions for the Sydney metropolitan area to contain the virus.

From midnight until Wednesday household gatherings have been limited to 10 people and patrons will need to maintain a four-square metre distancing at venues.

Places of worship and hospitality venues attendance will be capped at 300 people.

Singing and chanting at indoor venues is banned and dance floors will only be allowed at weddings.

“I thank everybody for your patience. I think this is the last thing any of us wanted this time of the year but, as we know, we are in a pandemic and all of us must make changes,” Berejiklian said.

“We are all in this together and I am confident we will get through this as long as we all stick together and stick to the advice provided.”

The new list of cases, released by NSW Health on Saturday night, showed the virus had spread to greater Sydney and other parts of NSW.

Public health alerts apply to Nomad Restaurant, Cuckoo Callay, and the Strawberry Hills Hotel in inner-city Surry Hills, the Rose of Australia pub in Erskineville and the Sydney Trapeze School at St Peters. New locations also include Turramurra and Homebush.

Spots in Forster and Raymond Terrace, both hours north of Sydney, are also on the warning list.

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People waiting in long lines for Covid-19 tests at the Brookvale Centre in Sydney, Australia on Dec. 19, 2020. (Lee Hulsman/Getty Images)P

The new list also includes venues in the northern beaches, the epicentre of the recent cluster.

Of particular concern is the Anytime Fitness in Avalon, where known cases attended over several days while infectious.

Anyone who attended the gym on or after Dec. 8 is considered a close contact and must self-isolate for 14 days. People who worked out there between Nov. 23 and Dec. 7 should be tested as well.

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, Berejiklian said, to give Sydney a chance for a semi-normal Christmas.

People are permitted to leave their homes for five basic reasons: to seek medical care, exercise, grocery shop, work or for compassionate care reasons.

By Marty Silk and Hannah Ryan