The New South Wales (NSW) government has introduced tougher new restrictions for its residents following its worst day yet in the current outbreak.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a series of new rules and heavier fines on Saturday, which are hoped to help stem the spread of the virus.
NSW recorded 466 new cases and four deaths reported on Saturday. Of those, the source remains unknown for 345 - just 121 are linked to a known cluster, comprising of 101 household contacts and 20 close contacts.
The four deaths were a man in his 70s from southwestern Sydney, a man in his 80s also from southwestern Sydney, a woman in her 40s from northern Sydney and a woman in her 70s from the southwest. Forty-three people have now died in the current outbreak, which began almost two months ago.
Berejiklian told reporters while there was no "strong evidence" about outdoor transmission, a reduction of the activity bubble from 10km to 5km was to support the police in "operational matters".
NSW currently has 12 local government areas of concern (Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield and certain suburbs in Penrith), where the activity limit has been reduced to 5km.
That reduction is part of a wave of stricter restrictions coming into place from Monday - but what do they actually mean?
Residents will only have a 5km bubble to move outside of their homes for genuine exercise and shopping, and Sydneysiders will have to apply for a permit to visit regional areas.
All residents will have to wear a mask whenever they go outside and NSW police will ramp up their presence in areas of concern, including deploying riot squads and enhancing random checkpoints on key roads.
About 500 extra Australian Defence Force officers will also be deployed, following a request from NSW Police for assistance in monitoring compliance.
This has also seen the introduction of stricter and heavier fines for people that break the new rules.
Berejiklian said while the health order would officially be enforced from 12.01am Monday, between now and then, the following heavier penalties would apply:
- $5000 on the spot fine for breaching self-isolation rules
- $5000 on the spot fine for lying on a permit (already a criminal offence)
- $5000 on the spot fine for lying to a contact tracer (already a criminal offence)
- $3000 on the spot fine for breaching the two person outdoor exercise/recreation rule
- $3000 on the spot fine for breaching rules around entry into regional NSW for authorised work, inspecting real estate and travelling to your second home.
In an interview on Nova FM on Saturday morning, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: "Unless you absolutely have to be somewhere else to work or you're an emergency worker or you’re putting jabs in arms or you're indeed going to get vaccinated today or to get tested... please stay at home, you know, watch the telly, read a book, cook a curry."
Earlier on Saturday, the state of Victoria reported 21 new local cases, 10 of them infectious while in the community.