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NSW's COVID-19 restrictions have been tightened again — here's what you need to know

ABC Health logo ABC Health 29/07/2021 By Paige Cockburn

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she's been forced to impose the "harshest restrictions Australia has ever seen" as her state's COVID-19 crisis continues to deteriorate.

Yesterday, Ms Berejiklian announced a four-week extension of Greater Sydney's lockdown, and a raft of new rules affecting shopping, schools, singles and construction.

But just 24 hours later she was forced to go even further after the state recorded 239 new COVID-19 cases — the highest number of daily infections ever seen in NSW.

Most of the new restrictions affect people living in the Sydney local government areas (LGAs) of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown, Georges River, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Cumberland, Parramatta and Blacktown, which have been identified as particularly high risk for COVID transmission. 

Here's a breakdown of the new rules.

Less movement, more masks

Residents in the eight LGAs of concern are now even more locked down.

From 12:01am tomorrow, people in those areas must not travel more than 5km from their home, and must wear face masks while outside their residences.

Ms Berejiklian said there were too many people in these areas having contact with others outside but not wearing masks.

"If you step foot outside your household, you now need to wear a mask at all times," she said.

This map shows where the affected LGAs are in relation to other parts of the lockdown area.

[map]

The new 5km rule applies to all movement.

It means you can't travel further than that to go to the shops, or exercise.

The only exceptions are if you need medical care, are getting vaccinated, are an essential worker or need an essential item which is not available locally.

If you live alone, and you planned to take advantage of the new "singles bubble" announced this week, the person you pair with must live within 5km of your home.

Ms Berejiklian warned more LGAs could be subjected to these new rules depending on infections over the coming days.

Police will also be cracking down ever harder on compliance.

The fine for not wearing a mask has been increased from $200 to $500.

Shopping must be done locally

In other parts of Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour, you can only shop for essential goods within your LGA or 10km from your home.

Again, the only exception to this is if the item is not available locally.

Ms Berejiklian said people were still travelling long distances to do shopping and transmission was occurring in shops.

"[We need to] make sure locals stay local," she said.

You can use this map to find out what is within 10km of your home:

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Only authorised workers can leave

If you live in one of the eight LGAs of concern you must not travel to another LGA for work unless you are classified as an "authorised worker".

If you don't know what an authorised worker is, you can find out here.

On top of this, the rules around surveillance testing in Sydney's south west are changing.

From 12:01am on July 31, all authorised workers in Canterbury-Bankstown will be required to get a COVID-19 test every three days if they leave the LGA for work.

But only aged-care and health workers in the Fairfield and Cumberland LGAs must be swabbed that regularly.

People are able to work while waiting for a result (as long as they don't have symptoms) and can get tested in the LGA they work in.

School's back (for some)

Year 12 students will return to face-to-face learning on Monday, August 16 under strict COVID protocols.

Ms Berejiklian said to make sure this was safe, a Pfizer vaccination program for Year 12 students in the eight LGAs of concern would be launched.

Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) will also take place on school campuses when Year 12 students return.

The Premier acknowledged RATs were not as accurate as other types of testing but said it would help identify cases quickly.

RATs typically return a result within 15 to 30 minutes and they are more likely to give a false positive than a false negative.

Singles bubble

Anyone living alone can now nominate one person to visit them in their home.

If you don't live in one of the eight LGAs of concern, your visitor cannot be from any of those areas, either.

If you do live in those areas, your visitor must live within 5km of your home.

"And it has to be the same person, you can't have a different person every day," Ms Berejiklian said.

Construction ban in some areas

A two-week hiatus on construction in Greater Sydney and its surrounds is set to end from 12:01am this Saturday, but there are major restrictions still in place.

Construction will still be banned in the eight LGAs of concern.

Construction workers from those areas will also not be allowed to leave their LGAs for work.

Outside those areas, construction in non-occupied settings will be permitted, but the number of workers on site will be capped at one per 4 square metres.

A non-occupied setting means construction sites where there are no residents.

Tradies and cleaners will be able to work in occupied settings long as they don't have contact with residents.

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