NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned people against entering the Sydney CBD for the much-anticipated Boxing Day sales, given it provided an opportunity for the virus to be transmitted and spread when shoppers returned to the suburbs.
“We’d prefer people did not go to the CBD [on Boxing Day] because then you have people from all over Sydney coming to one location, and it only takes one or two cases for it to then spread everywhere else,” Ms Berejiklian said. “We know this is not the easiest message to give to those retailers.”
Dr Chant said she was particularly concerned about the CBD given the potential for further transmission from the Paragon Hotel’s sports bar near Circular Quay. Three positive COVID-19 cases are linked to the venue after a December 16 exposure.
Meanwhile, a child associated with a cluster from the Paddington Alimentari cafe tested positive after the 8pm reporting deadline on Christmas Eve, and will be included in Saturday’s figures.
New COVID-19 locations on Friday included QVB’s santa photos on December 23, Central Park food court in Chippendale on December 17, cafes in Crows Nest, Glebe and Auburn, and multiple bus routes. (The full list can be seen here.)
Ms Berejiklian urged people to only move around the city if they have to over coming days and to wear masks at shopping centres or on public transport.
The Premier, who has resisted mandating face masks, said they only provided the fourth line of defence.
“Just because you’re wearing a mask does not protect you from getting the virus or from transmitting the virus,” Ms Berejiklian said.
She praised Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner for opening his state to greater Sydney and NSW, except for people from the northern beaches hotspot, and urged other state and territory leaders to follow his lead.
“[Mr Gunner] has been consistent the whole way through and I do ask other colleagues, other state leaders, to consider the actions of the Northern Territory,” she said.
“I think the NT’s response is measured and proportionate to the risk.”
Victoria, which recorded its 56th consecutive day without community transmission, will consider lifting border restrictions next week.
Queensland won’t lift its restrictions until at least January 8 after an unlinked case from Western Sydney on December 22.
The Belrose Hotel worker is believed to have had mild virus symptoms as early as December 10. Dr Chant urged people from the northern beaches suburb, as well as Davidson, to come forward for testing. The hotel sits near the Belrose Country Club Retirement Village.
People living in the southern section of the northern beaches – where restrictions were loosened on December 23 to allow 10 people into their homes from anywhere in Sydney – will learn on Boxing Day whether the Premier intends to return them to a harsher lockdown.
Eased restrictions for the rest of the city, where children were excluded from the 10-person limit for visiting households, will revert after December 27.
Tom Rabe is Transport Reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.
Josh Dye is a news reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.