Australian state tightens restrictions, makes masks mandatory as cluster grows

Australian state tightens restrictions, makes masks mandatory as cluster grows”

Breaches on the order can result in a $200 on-the-spot fine, but a grace period will be in effect until Monday.

From midnight tonight (Saturday) face masks will be compulsory in indoor settings in greater Sydney, including shopping centres, catching public transport, cinemas, places of worship, hair and beauty salons and hospitality venues.

The NSW premier also revealed there had been seven cases of community transmission in the state in the 24 hours up until 8pm last night.

Two are connected to the Avalon cluster on the northern beaches, five are connected to the Berala cluster in Sydney's west and one is a household contact of a case in Wollongong.

"You [residents of that area] do not have to comply with the stay-at-home conditions", Ms Berejiklian said.

These stay-at-home provisions will remain in place until January 9. Children under 12 are exempt but are encouraged to wear masks where practicable.

"While we are not changing any restrictions to New South Wales and Victoria at this stage, as we've seen, things can change really quickly with this virus, so I continue to urge Queenslanders travelling to these states to reassess their plans - if it is not necessary, then consider staying here", she said in a statement on Friday.

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Some other restrictions were also put into effect for Greater Sydney from midnight Saturday, such as 30-people cap for gym classes, places of worship and religious services limited to 1 person per 4 square metres up to a maximum of 100 people per separate area, 500-people cap for outdoor performances and protests and no nightclubs.

"Irrespective of if you think it was just a fleeting visit to this premises, we want you to act in a very precautionary way and are asking for your assistance", she said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media during a COVID-19 press conference in Sydney.

The Premier defended the event going forward despite warnings it could be a potential superspreading event, saying the State Government was trying to find the "right balance".

"There was something we could look forward to and something we could find a sense of normality through".

Australia has reported more than 28,450 Covid-19 cases and 909 deaths since the pandemic began.

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