The restrictions cover about five million people after cases linked to Delta variants, as neighboring New Zealand raises the alert level.
People in Sydney, Australia’s largest city, have been ordered not to leave the metropolitan area, as authorities are committed to contain a series of new cases of coronavirus of the Delta variant – a development that has encouraged nearby New Zealand to raise its alert level following a possible exposure by an Australian tourist.
The First State of New South Wales (NSW), Gladys Berejiklian, announced on Wednesday the tightest edges – affecting around five million people living and working in the city.
“Clearly this is an evolving situation,” Berejiklian said at a press conference.
The new rules come into force at 4pm Sydney (06:00 GMT) and will remain in force for one week.
“In view of what has happened, the NSW government will act today to limit the spread of what is a highly contagious variant of COVID.”
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard described the situation as “a very real and current danger” to the city as a cluster identified for the first time on Bondi Beach grows to 21 houses with eight confirmed Wednesday morning.
Most of the newly confirmed cases were traced to a single event, where a mass meeting was held Tuesday.
“This is a new and more dangerous version of the virus,” Hazzard said during the press conference.
The new restrictions include a limit on visitors to the home to five people, including children, Berejiklian said.
The mask attire, which was already restored on Friday, will be expanded with people having to wear masks in all indoor settings outside the home and at events organized in the open air. Measures also include capacity limits for public transportation and in gym classes, while singing in indoor venues, including places of worship, will not be allowed.
Authorities also urged people to appear for evidence.
“If we follow the health order today, we will have a good chance to catch on to this fire,” Berejiklian told reporters.
New Zealand on alert
Heads up folks – new COVID restrictions for Sydney starting at 4 pm today. Stay safe at all. pic.twitter.com/9ELNGiS2fr
– Jenny Leong MP 梁 珍妮 (@jennyleong) June 23, 2021
As of Wednesday, Australia had recorded more than 30,300 cases and 910 deaths.
The country has been one of the most successful in the world in dealing with the pandemic, allowing it to reopen its border in New Zealand.
But new cases test the travel bubble among the neighbors.
On Wednesday, New Zealand raised its pandemic alert level in Wellington to level two, which is at a low level close to a block.
Earlier, an Australian tourist who visited the capital over the weekend tested positive for COVID when they returned to Sydney.
“These are precautionary measures that will remain in place as we contact track and test all we need,” said New Zealand’s COVID response minister Chris Hipkins.
Below the high alert level, offices, schools and businesses are still allowed to open, but people are required to follow the rules of social distance.
Meetings of more than 100 people are prohibited, including weddings and other celebrations.
New Zealand has a population of five million people, and has recorded a total of 2,720 cases and 26 deaths. The country posted a recovery rate of 98.2 percent.
In Australia itself, Queensland and Victoria have both closed their borders to people from many parts of Sydney because of the new homes.