The Premier has resisted calls to mandate the use of face masks throughout the pandemic, despite their use on public transport sitting at just over 30 per cent this week.
“Given where we are now, we believe very strongly – and I’ve used this word a lot in the last few days – in having a proportionate response to what we’re experiencing.
“Clearly, if the case numbers were going in the opposite direction, we’d look at all the settings.”
She took a swipe at other state premiers after borders across Australia were shut to NSW over the weekend as Sydney’s northern beaches outbreak grew.
“In NSW not only are we cautious with our approach but I think we assess the risk well and then make decisions according to that, unlike some of my other state colleagues who have taken what I think are overreaching actions, given what’s happened in NSW,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“We try and look at the big picture, we try and be compassionate as well as assessing the health risks.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has cited the lack of mandatory masks and wider stay-at-home orders as reasons to shut his state’s border to NSW.
However, Ms Berejiklian pointed out that she resisted closing the NSW border to Victoria earlier this year until Melbourne reached triple-figure daily coronavirus cases.
She said an announcement on the restrictions would be made “based on what we understand and know during the day”.
“The decision would be much easier if it wasn’t this time of year,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Eight new cases of COVID-19 were announced on Tuesday after a record 44,466 people turned up to testing clinics in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday.
Seven of those were linked to the Avalon cluster, while the eighth was a healthcare worker who had transported a symptomatic family of three to hotel quarantine after they arrived at Sydney Airport from the United States.
A close workplace contact of that worker has also tested positive to COVID-19 and will be included in Wednesday’s numbers.
The northern beaches restrictions, in place since 5pm on Saturday, are due to end at midnight on Wednesday, but University of NSW epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws said the peninsula’s residents should brace themselves to remain in lockdown until there has been “at least seven full days of zero cases”.
Professor McLaws said coronavirus “does not get cultural or religious festivals” and the state’s leaders needed to forget about Christmas and “do what is right”.
“We are on an edge where we are still not entirely certain that this is the end of the northern beaches outbreak,” she said. “We’re way away from zero.”
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said she was concerned by a growing number of venues visited by COVID-19 cases outside the northern beaches, because residents in those areas were not subject to the same lockdown provisions.
With contact tracing teams working around the clock, NSW Health added another 50 venues to its list yesterday.
Dr Chant said NSW Health was taking “a very low threshold for listing those venues”, but highlighted a number outside the northern beaches that were of concern as locations of further transmission.
As parts of the city locked down, road traffic declined by 60 per cent this week, while patronage on buses dropped by 75 per cent. Mask use on public transport is sitting at 33 per cent, more than double the previous week.
Tom Rabe is Transport Reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.
Jenny Noyes is a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald.
Kate Aubusson is Health Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.