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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is under pressure to introduce tighter rules after 77 new locally transmitted coronavirus cases were recorded on Sunday and more than 100 are expected on Monday.
“Tomorrow and the few days afterwards will be worse, much worse than we’ve seen today,” she told reporters on Sunday as the state recorded its first death of the outbreak.
Experts say that without a serious change to the rules to reflect what Melbourne did during its second wave, “worse” is an understatement.
The current rules for Sydneysiders mean a person can only leave home for four reasons — to get food and essential items once a day, for work, for exercise or to seek medical care or a vaccination.
Shopping can be carried out by only one person per household and a 10km travel limit has been imposed for exercise and outdoor recreation.
Exercise was initially allowed with up to 10 people outdoors but that number has been slashed to two.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media during a COVID-19 press conference in Sydney. Photo / News Corp Australia
Reasonable excuses to be out of the home include accessing childcare, donating blood, moving house, attending a funeral, providing care, accessing social services, undertaking legal obligations and to escape risk of harm.
Face masks are mandatory in all indoor settings including public transport and funerals have been capped at 10 people.
Under the current rules, pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes are open for takeaway, but places of worship, hairdressers, auction houses, betting agencies, markets, massage parlours, nightclubs and swimming pools are all closed with no exceptions.
All schools have been closed to face-to-face learning.
Adjunct Professor at UNSW and health policy consultant Bill Bowtell is among experts calling for tighter restrictions.
He told ABC News Breakfast the current rules are “not enough, they are not like the stage four restrictions in the gold standard state for these things, which is Victoria, and until they are we will be running behind to try to stop the spread of the Delta variant in Sydney”.
He said the “big retailers that are not providing essential goods and services should not be open”.
“The police have a lot more to do than stand outside essential retailers. Let’s get real. We got into this problem because there’s too much politics, too much influence by big business. What’s going to get us out of it is following the science.”
Professor of Epidemiology at the University of South Australia, Adrian Esterman, told news.com.au more of the same will result in cases continuing to climb.
“Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” he said.
“I can’t see why (numbers) will go down with a further week of lockdown, unless there is further intervention. This means imposing even tighter restrictions, including tightening the definition of an essential worker or introducing a curfew, and somehow getting better compliance with the regulations.”
ABC Radio Melbourne host Raf Epstein tweeted Sydney is “like watching a replay of a football game”.
“You already know your team is going to lose and you know all the mistakes they made …
and you’re still shouting at the screen,” he wrote.
The comments come after a woman in her 90s died on Saturday, hours after testing positive for Covid-19.
Hers was the first death in a locally-acquired infection in Australia this year.
Lockdown rules were tightened Friday and Ms Berejiklian warned that stay-at-home orders were expected to remain in place unless there was a dramatic turnaround.
“Given where we’re at and given the lockdown was supposed to be lifted on Friday, everybody can tell it’s highly unlikely at this stage, given where the numbers are,” she said.
Sydney has recorded 566 new infections since the beginning of the outbreak mid-June.
The Federal Government launched a new advertising campaign on Sunday encouraging people to “arm yourself” against Covid-19 by getting jabbed, though vaccines are yet to be offered to most under-40s.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said other “graphic” adverts would be broadcast in Sydney urging people to follow stay-at-home orders, as police step up enforcement amid reports that flouting of the rules was widespread.
Australia has recorded just over 31,000 cases of Covid-19 and 911 deaths in a population of about 25 million to date.
Text by Rohan Smith, news.com.au