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NSW braces for COVID-19 cases spike as authorities flag possible harsher restrictions for Sydney’s southwest

Harsher localised restrictions could be introduced for communities in Sydney’s southwest if COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly in the area, the NSW premier has warned.

Gladys Berejiklian on Wednesday announced the lockdown orders governing five million people in Sydney and its surrounds would be extended by one week – until at least 16 July.

But with the number of new cases who have spent time in the community while infectious remaining high, it may not be enough to stop the spread in some suburbs, she said.

NSW recorded 27 new local cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday. Just 13 of the new cases were in isolation for the entirety of their infectious period.

Ms Berejiklian warned case numbers would spike in the coming days due to the highly infectious Delta strain of the virus spreading rapidly in the local government areas of Fairfield, Liverpool and Canterbury-Bankstown.

If the situation further deteriorates in those communities, harsher localised restrictions could be imposed, she warned.

While current restrictions permit exercising in groups of 10 and care visits, the premier implored people in those council areas to avoid such activities.

“Most of us have stocked up on groceries, probably have more things than we need, so please avoid leaving the house, avoid going to indoor areas, avoid any activity unless absolutely necessary,” Ms Berejiklian said on Wednesday.

New venue alerts were issued on Wednesday afternoon for Bunnings in Ashfield, a Commonwealth Bank and Woolworths at Riverwood and a Dan Murphy’s in Strathfield South.

Retail venues in Marrickville, Granville, Woollahra, Fairfield, and Wetherill Park are among the new exposure sites, as are a garage in Ashfield and a petrol station in South Granville.

Seven COVID-19 patients are currently in intensive care, including one in their 30s.

Mandatory masks for teachers and senior students

Meanwhile, NSW teachers and senior students in Greater Sydney and surrounds will have to wear masks when they return to school next term.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the new COVID-safe rules apply to schools inside areas impacted by the stay-at-home orders – Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour.

Masks will be mandatory for all staff in all school settings, as well as students from Year 7 upwards when on-site learning resumes on 19 July, she said on Thursday.

Ms Mitchell says she understands it’s a challenging time for students, staff and parents but schools are prepared to manage the restrictions.

In regional areas, masks will be recommended for all staff in all school settings as well as high school students.

On Wednesday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that when term three resumes next week, pupils in the lockdown areas would be learning from home while regional schools would have strict COVID restrictions.

Pupils who were due to return from holidays next week will mostly learn from home, but schools will be open for children of essential workers.

Source: sbs