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NSW extends mask-wearing restrictions as Sydney’s COVID-19 cluster grows to nine

Mandatory mask rules have been extended in NSW after Sydney’s eastern suburbs coronavirus cluster grew to nine cases.

The state recorded two local cases in the 24 hours to 8pm, including a man in his 30s who was revealed on Saturday to have attended Westfield Bondi Junction. The second is a household contact of that man, with both also spending time in Wollongong.

A further two cases were found after 8pm and will be included in Monday’s numbers.

These include a woman and a man in their 50s from the Sutherland Shire, who are both close contacts of a previously reported case and have been in isolation. The man is believed to have acquired the virus while working at a Salvation Army store.

The state’s chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said the current testing numbers of 24,500 need to be higher.

She renewed pleas for people who visited the Bondi Junction Westfield shopping centre on 12 and 13 June to present for testing.

Detection of virus fragments have also been identified in the Brooklyn catchment area, along with the Camellia North and South catchment areas.

“I would like to see those testing numbers exceed 30,000 or 40,000. The quicker we can diagnose cases, the quicker we can get ahead of the transmission of this virus,” she said.

The list of coronavirus exposure sites was updated on Sunday evening to include shopping centres, clothing outlets, cafes, restaurants and fitness facilities in Drummoyne, Parramatta, Hurstville, Castle Hill, Merrylands and Baulkham Hills.

A person is tested at a coronavirus testing facility at Bondi Beach in Sydney.

Following the latest cases, mandatory mask wearing has been extended to indoor settings, including hospitality workers, in seven local government areas in Sydney around the eastern suburbs.

The LGAs include Randwick, Bayside, Botany, Inner West, City of Sydney, Waverley and Woollahra.

Mandatory mask wearing on public transport will also be extended to the Wollongong and Shellharbour areas.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it is important to remain on high alert “no matter where we live”.

“We ask everybody to not be complacent,” she said, adding that further restrictions will be introduced if necessary.

“We know everybody is tired. All of us are. We have to keep doing the right thing until we get the vaccine to the majority of our population.”

Dr Chant said the mask rules would operate in a similar way to measures adopted during Sydney’s lockdown last year, with a fact sheet clarifying details to be released later on Sunday.

Masks won’t be expected in school settings, nor where it impractical while eating or doing strenuous physical exercise, although Dr Chant urged people to adopt physical distancing and hygiene protocols wherever possible.

“It is around common-sense. We are asking everyone to moderate (their activities) at this time to ensure the social distancing,” she said.

In a statement, NSW Health said indoor mask wearing in the seven local government areas would cover venues including retail, theatres, aged care facilities and for front-of-house hospitality staff.

“NSW Health continues to remind people to avoid non-essential visits to aged care and disability facilities, but if visiting, wear a mask and limit visits to two people per day,” a spokesperson said.

Source: sbs