Sydney will remain in lockdown for another four weeks after having already endured a month of stay-at-home orders and restrictions, the New South Wales government announced on Wednesday.
A release from the NSW government cited “low vaccination rates” for the continuing lockdown. “This extra time will allow NSW residents to significantly increase the uptake of vaccines in areas most affected by the current outbreak and across the state.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that the city with more than 5.3 million people cannot come out of lockdown because of an increase in cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus in the recent days, and that higher vaccination rates and complying with the imposed orders are the only way to guarantee the easing of restrictions. The CCP virus causes the disease COVID-19.
Sydney reported 177 new infections on Tuesday, a slight increase from 172 new cases recorded on Monday. The state has seen a total of 8,105 cases altogether since Jan. 25, 2020, of which 2,291 cases are active as of Wednesday afternoon.
Berejiklian told reporters that all areas currently locked down “will continue to be locked down for a further four weeks.” The decision affects Greater Sydney including Shell Harbour, Wollongong, the Blue Mountains, and the Central Coast, which will now be under lockdown until Aug. 28.
Further from 11.59 p.m. on Wednesday, an additional three local government (LGA) areas—Georges River, Parramatta and Campbeltown—will join Cumberland, Canterbury-Bankstown, Blacktown, Liverpool and Fairfield under tightened restrictions after the Delta variant continues to spread throughout the city. Residents in 8 LGAs will be unable to leave their LGAs unless they work in one of the 12 authorised sectors nominated by the NSW government.
Berejiklian said that there is “plenty of AstraZeneca” and that anyone 18 and over in Greater Sydney “should access the jab.” She said that unvaccinated people should “please organise a jab” especially if they are in one of the restricted LGAs.
The restrictions will continue to affect students, who must keep up with their education from home, except for those in year 12, who will return to face to face learning on Aug. 16..
The state government noted, however, that year 12 students who live in one of the 8 LGAs will be “subject to a Pfizer vaccination program.”
The news of the extension comes after thousands demonstrated in Sydney to protest the lockdown imposed on the city.
Berejiklian on Wednesday announced the government has partially lifted one of its most controversial lockdowns restrictions—the ban on construction work. Now, non-occupied worksites around the city and its surroundings will be allowed to re-open from Saturday.
The government had faced heavy criticism for the ban on construction work, including from the construction union, the CFMEU.
“Last Friday, we were still told the industry could keep going,” CFMEU Secretary Darren Greenfield said. “To come out and flip a switch was atrocious.”
He added, “We’re still angry, but we need to start telling the government—everyone in the industry and everyone in NSW as well—that we need to get back up and running.”
Both the federal and state government have announced new support packages in an effort to soften the financial blow caused by the imposed lockdown.
Under the new federal package, full-time workers will get weekly support payments of $750, while part-time workers will get $450. The new payments will start from claims processed the week prior to Aug. 2.
Individuals receiving Centrelink payments will be eligible for an additional $200 a week if they lose more than eight hours of work per week.
The NSW government will also offer eligible businesses and not-for-profits payments of between $1,500 and $100,000 a week, depending on their payroll.
The payment will be calculated based on 40 percent of payroll for businesses that have suffered a decline of 30 percent or more in turnover. The NSW government expects the scheme will cover more than 400,000 businesses employing 3.3 million workers in NSW.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported on the vaccination requirement for students in LGAs of concern. The Pfizer vaccine is highly prioritized for students aged 16 to 18 in the eight LGAs of concern. The Epoch Times regrets the error.